Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unconditional Meaning

When I worked in the mental health field in a jail setting, I discovered a book entitled, "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. This book is now on my shelf with memories of the many times it circulated around the jail, read by hundreds of inmates. Each time I sent it out it came back to my office a little more tattered and worn--a testimony to those searching for meaning in their lives.

We long to understand the world we live in, so we apply meaning to everything. Assigning meaning to people, situations and conditions in our life is our way of defining what we believe they are, so they make sense to us and we can relate to them. No two people see anything exactly the same, so we each create our own world, but rarely aware of our own involvement in our creation. While we tend to focus on the world outside of ourselves, there's another world inside--the place where we put meaning, or lack of meaning, on our own life as a person.

According to Frankl, "The striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone: only then does it achieve a significance that will satisfy his own will to meaning." Your life can only be lived by you, and you must see its meaning.

Those who have a "why" to live, can bear with almost any "how." Friedrich Nietsche

You may ask yourself, Does my life count for anything? Do I matter? Am I of any importance in the world? Would I be missed if I disappeared? You may believe you don't matter because you haven't done anything that you believe merits greatness. Or you may focus on your failures rather than your successes, and the picture looks grey. But take another look at your life--how you express in your work, with family and friends, with strangers, with things you love to do, in your spiritual life. Only you can be you, and that in itself has meaning.

Whether you know it or not, you have touched lives. And you can't erase that. You have come through your own suffering, and no one else could have carried your load. It was yours. And there is meaning even in the suffering. Your life cannot be repeated or replaced. You cannot be replaced.

Each flower petal, each cloud in the sky, or each drop of water is unique unto itself, a divine creation with its own mission to express its unique self. This has meaning, and as with your life, this meaning is unconditional, unqualified, absolute.

You are beautiful, and the world needs you.


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