“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
– Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Frankl famously survived the Nazi death camps of WW2 and wrote a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
One can only imagine the horrors he endured on a daily basis — the mass killings, the humiliation, the awful experiments, the ongoing torture. Given the daily nightmares, we’d probably forgive him for not being overly enthusiastic about life. But Frankl was a curious fellow and he became fascinated with one question.
What made the difference between those who survived and those who didn’t?
And that’s a curious question, isn’t it?
Frankl discovered, that those who found meaning in what they endured, were much more likely to survive, even thrive. It sounds bizarre though, doesn’t it? How can one find meaning in “hell?” you might well ask. Maybe Frankl would have responded, “What is to give light must endure burning,” as he is often quoted.
For me, Frankl seems to be saying that the lack of meaning/purpose is the ultimate existential stress, and just as crucially, that finding meaning and purpose (even in the most horrific of circumstances) is the ultimate cure for sadness, depression, grief and fear. Could that be true?
I’ve seen a similar pattern in clients I have worked with. Part of the reason that states of apathy, sadness, and fear are so debilitating is because they are so inwardly focused and so energetically contracted. Like Frankl, I’ve seen those who bump themselves out of depression and hopelessness often find some external focus. (Often volunteering I’ve noticed, interestingly).
Another example — I used to have a lot of anxiety, and in my experience, when you’re having an anxiety attack, your entire focus is about what YOU are thinking, what you are feeling, and what people think about YOU.
As I was learning to conquer my demons, once again I found it helpful to develop some external focus – playing guitar, photography, internet marketing — really anything that reminds you that there are other things going on in the universe other than what your particular body/mind is experiencing!
This is why the lower vibrations on the energetic scale — apathy, grief, fear, are so dead — it’s because they are so inwardly focused. As you move up the scale into desire/lust, anger, pride, the energy is more alive and focused outside of yourself.
(And, even without a lofty “purpose,” a “boring” external focus does prevent you from continually reinforcing your internal garbage over and over!)
So if you were to ask me, “What’s the ultimate cure for sadness, grief and fear etc?”
I would suggest looking for some positive meaning for what you’ve been through, or even some outward focus to occupy the mind.
Put another way, what’s the potential cost of NOT having some external focus? Well, negative patterns tend to beget negative patterns. That’s how things get out of control, and worse.
What’s the likely upside? In all likelihood, you find something that you either enjoy or is just ‘ok’.
Worst case scenario – it takes your mind off your internal garbage for a while, which stops the endless reinforcement of it. Best case scenario – you enjoy yourself, feel better about yourself, and begin to feel much more positive generally.
Here’s an audio I’d like you to listen to that guides you step by step in finding some meaning, purpose, or “freely chosen task” as Frankl calls it. Just listen along with this audio and after about 10 minutes, I guide you through a series of questions to help you hone in on a meaning/purpose to raise your energy:
WARNING: Although it’s called “Wealth-Creation In The Zone,” this isn’t necessarily about money and abundance. For me, “wealth” means having an abundance of all resources that are important to you, and what could be more important than your life, your peace of mind, and nurturing your unique talents and gifts?
This session will help you create and nuture an area of focus in your life — which as you’ll hear me explain in the audio, in addition to growing a business, could be something like photography, volunteering, learning to paint, or play a musical instrument.
If you enjoy this audio, you have the option to upgrade and download the complete series. The 7-day series will show you how to get into daily inspired action on what would be most magical and fulfilling for you in your life. Use Coupon Code WEALTH99 at checkout and you’ll get a $30 discount (valid for another 48 hours).
– Matt Clarkson
P.S. Thought you might enjoy another quote from Frankl:
“The uniqueness of man, his humanness, does not contradict the fact that in the psychological and biological dimensions he is still an animal.”
– The Unheard Cry for Meaning