19 April, 2011

Searching for Meaning

When you are encountered by a suffering, it is not the physical pain that comes with the unexpected loss that, but the mental agony caused by the injustice and the unreasonableness of it all. It is then, that one needs to understand the reality of life, which is that life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. Even in the gravest situations, the greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. 

They say that there can be three possible sources for meaning: at work, when you are doing something significant, in love when you care for another person, and in courage during difficult times. 

Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it. At one point, a person may remain brave, dignified and unselfish, or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. While only a few people are examples of the former, but it is sufficient proof that man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.

The most enduring insight, one that I have called on often in my own life and in countless counseling situations is that forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to your suffering. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.

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