Finding Meaning in Life Is Good for Your Health
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” Both the book and its most famous quote were products of an incredibly difficult experience. During World War II, Frankl and his family were deported from their native Vienna to various concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He was the only member of his family to survive.
Frankl knew just how unbearable the “how” of life could be. And yet, as Frankl explained, humans are meaning-seeking creatures. We want to believe that there’s more to life than meeting our basic survival needs of food, water, shelter, and safety. Even more, we need this to be true. Otherwise, ours becomes a purely animal existence. Despite all the zoo placards and biology textbooks assuring us that humans are just animals, we certainly don’t act like survival and promulgating the species are all that matters.
Without meaning, hope is difficult, if not impossible. At best, without meaning, we resort to a kind of detachment and resignation. At worst, we resort to self-harm, violence, or even suicide…