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What can we learn from a man stripped of all his worldly possessions and dignity? The psychologist Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning spent four years in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He survived some of the most inhumane treatment in modern history. As a doctor, Frankl focused his energy and strength on studying those around him during this deprivation. He learned a huge amount about the importance of living a life of meaning.
Everyday Life in Auschwitz
Frankl interviewed hundreds of inmates he treated in camp hospitals. He identified that those who survived the illness and mistreatment almost always had a deeper meaning or purpose in their lives. In Frankl’s own case, he was determined to survive to be reunited with his wife, the love of his life. This drove him to dig frozen earth, endure countless beatings and fight off the scourges of malnutrition and tetanus for four years.
What Makes Us Give Up?
Frankl watched fellow inmates succumb to what he called “giveupitis”. One day, they would simply lie in bed and refuse to get up, ignoring beatings and abuse from the guards. At this point, Frankl sadly noted that they had given up their reason for living and their death was usually came within a day or two. Without purpose they had no reason to go on.
The Power of Purpose
Frankl’s groundbreaking work has huge significance for your life. Without meaning, life can be tinged with a deep seated feeling of futility and emptiness. Frankl saw this manifest in “giveupitis” amongst his patients and fellow inmates. Today this lack of meaning can lead to a lack of motivation, energy and excitement. It can hold you back from chasing your vision and goals and keep you stuck in the ordinary.
Finding a deeper purpose provides the motivation to strive for success. It helps with springing out of bed in the morning and providing the energy to push for what is really important.
How to Find your Purpose
Ask yourself the following questions to identify your purpose:
- Think about your toughest situations when you’ve been closest to giving up. What was the spark that kept burning and got you through?
- What did you continue to believe in?
- Think about your greatest and most fulfilling moments in life where you felt most proud?
- What was your driving force to achieve these amazing feats?
- What makes you feel proud about what you did?
- Who are the most important people in your life?
- What do they mean to you?
- How do they inspire and motivate you?
So, what is your purpose? How do you plan to make the most of that today and every day? What have you learned from Viktor Frankl’s experience? Please share your passion with the LOL Community by leaving a comment. And if you have time, pick up a copy of Man’s Search for Meaning, a truly inspiring read.
Photo credit: Studio 494 from Flickr Creative Commons