on the meaning of life.

Finding meaning in life can be a life-long quest. It’s more about your actions than a single big discovery. Nothing in our existence is fixed, and as we will explain in this article, meaning is about constant (trans)formation and choices rather than a single big discovery. In fact, it’s not about the discovery at all.

Life doesn’t just happen to us. We happen to life, and we make it meaningful.

— Viktor Frankl

It’s essential to make a distinction between the meaning of life in a global or philosophical sphere and the understanding of how each person can live a life that is meaningful. The first can seem utterly overwhelming to grasp when we need to get a hold of it the most (after all, it took philosophers lifetimes to ponder about it). It’s also not very practical for every day use. The latter, however, is something each of us can exercise for ourselves, developing our own definition.

Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of Logotherapy* and Holocaust survivor, had a profound outlook on this topic. He wasn’t concerned with the meaning of life in general, but rather with finding its meaning at any given moment. He argues that the meaning of life is to seek one’s ways that are unique to them and never cease to exercise the freedom of the will and the will to meaning – which in Logotherapy are considered the most primary, most powerful driving forces in humans.

In this understanding, meaning is the very art of living you should practice daily, at every step. As long as you live, the definitions of meaning will be formed and questioned by the current of life. Nothing in our existence is fixed. Understanding this basic truth is the first crucial step on the pathway to meaning. If you skip it, you will get stuck in an endless loop. Accept that meaning is subject to change, and you will start progressing.

It is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.

— Viktor Frankl

We see more clearly now that the meaning of life is a sort of a deep-installed compass that guides us in our journey.

How to figure out yours then?

The Stoics believed that the meaning of life is first and foremost the pursuit of wisdom and virtue. In doing so, we find happiness and respect for ourselves. But that’s not enough to acquire a profound sense of leading a meaningful life.

To fulfill their role and generate a sense of meaning, they have to be applied equally inside and outside to the world. Whatever we ennoble within, should be done only with the goal of benefitting the world. Otherwise it simply won’t serve its purpose.

(…) The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself (…). The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

— Viktor Frankl

To find out what are the Three Categories through which you can create meaning in your life, and to start figuring out your ways to meaning right away, follow the link below and continue in the stoic app.

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