As the new year arrives, so does the impulse to make resolutions. However, rather than resolve for the umpteenth time to quit smoking, lose weight or get along with the in-laws, how about we give up resolutions entirely. Instead, let’s reflect on this question: “Do you have the means to live, but little meaning to live for?”
The question comes from Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who lived in Vienna during World War II. After the Nazi invasion, the good doctor and his family were arrested and sent to a concentration camp.
While imprisoned, Frankl saw his fellow prisoners treated with such cruelty they lost their humanity, their health and ultimately, their will to live.
But Frankl preserved his humanity and survived. How? By realizing his purpose in life was to study the experiences of his fellow prisoners and to share what he learned. This gave him the will to live – and the raw material for the book he later wrote, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
In his book, Frankl talks about the three drivers, or “wills” in life. The first driver is the will to pleasure – the desire to feel good and avoid pain. There is nothing inherently wrong with this driver. However, because it focuses on the self rather than on others, it only takes you so far.