Last night I finished up the bestselling book “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. It inspired me to write this article. I felt that I stumbled over something very profound. Meaning seems to be a buzzword and highlighting its importance for our lives like stating the obvious. However, diving into the “why” and “how” can open minds.
Meaning as our main driver
Frankl was born into a Jewish family and locked for years in Nazi death camps. During this time he discovered that the daily struggle for survival can be won by finding and focusing on meaning in life. No matter the circumstances, we are always in control of our attitudes. We can give meaning to the hardships in our lives if we want to. No one can take this freedom to think and act away from us.
Upon his release, Frankl founded logotherapy. A science, which is based on the concept of meaning (logos) as the main driver for human survival and design of life. Unlike the will to pleasure (on which the Freudian psychoanalysis is centered) and the will to power (which the Adlerian psychology is based on), the “will to meaning” seems to be a sustainable concept that doesn’t kick in once the Maslow’s basic needs are satisfied but already in the beginning. In fact we pursue our search for meaning in parallel to all other ones and it seems to be superior to power and pleasure. In fact, latter are shadows or side-effects of meaning but can never substitute it.
How do you find meaning?
At ExperienceZone, we translate meaning with mission. Our mission is our individual and unique reason for existence. We believe that there’s no subordinate or superior missions. Founding a family is equally important as colonizing Mars (as Elon Musk strives to do). Only one rule applies: Your mission needs to contribute to humanity and/or planet earth. Why’s that? Our actual desire is to be connected. Neurologically we’re wired to contribute, feel part of a larger means and want to be appreciated for what we do. So, there’re three steps:
- Initiation: You need to feel the need to define your mission first. Frankl says this either happens through a) suffering, like in his case. Once you’re existence is stripped to its bare bones, we recognize what is really important. Nowadays, we’re swamped by external stimulus (mind media), which distracted and ultimately detached from our natural desires as human beings. Another way to find meaning is through b) other people. In particular: Love. Love is way more that physical attraction or emotional attachment. It’s seeing a potential in someone, which didn’t actualize yet. It results in admiration and unconditional giving. Last year, I met someone, who opened my heart and thus helped me to shape my mission “use my energy and enthusiasm to inspire others and support them in unfolding their own talents in meaningful and harmonic ways”. The third trigger to discover you mission is via c) doing a meaningful work or deed. This is especially important for those who focus on the area career & financials in their lives.
- Definition: You need to write down your mission and best case paint it in bright colors. Vision is our most important sense. Vaguely knowing what you want to do with the few decades you’ve been granted on this planet is not enough. Make is explicit. Commit to it. Place your mission statement at prominent places in your living area. This way, you’ll always be reminded and thus win over your subconscious to support its manifestation.
- Execution: Strategy is nothing without action. Come up with a plan. What do you need to do to make your mission come true. I founded ExperienceZone. The first stepping stone towards materializing my dream. Just to be clear: There will be stumbling blocks along the way. People might not support you but laugh at or turn their backs on you. That’s totally fine. You’re not on this planet to please others but to fulfill your mission. Stay true to yourself and your individual reason for existence. Let others inspire your change but never kill your dreams. The means you’re putting in place might be suboptimal. Feel free to listen to others’ advises to become better in executing against your strategy but stay authentic and listen to your heart.