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The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Mirror oh mirror, which is the greatest of them all?

April 5th, 2011 by dimpledbrain

Have you ever wondered what is the driving force in man? There are people who are anchored in gadgets while others in power and authority. Compare the driving force in a tech junkie, a politician, a rich man and a monk.

The 3 main concepts that explain the driving force in man:

  1. Freudian’s will to pleasure – to satisfy biological (i.e. carnal) & psychological needs
  2. Nietzsche’s will to power – to reach the highest possible position in life (achievement, ambition etc) Friedrich Neitzsche is the guy who coined the saying “That which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”
  3. Frankl’s will to meaning – to find a meaning in one’s life. You guess it right. It’s Viktor Frankl & Man’s Search for Meaning (mouse over to About Me if you haven’t gotten the slightest clue)

Why is the will to meaning the greatest of them all?

Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning chronicled the time he spent in four concentration camps under Nazi occupation during WWII. He observed that after some time, those who survived were not the richest nor were they the most powerful (before the war broke out) ; but those who had a will to live. It is the will to meaning that has enabled people to survive. Even sex was not desirable after some time in concentration camps.

According to Frankl, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways:

  1. by creating a work or doing a deed
  2. by experiencing something or encountering someone
  3. by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering and that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances

From Covey’s Habit 7 & the 4 quadrants (Click here if you want to go to that post), I expanded the view below to include the elements that I think fuel the growth of each quadrant ( Help: Let me know if you think there are more to this or if you violently object my classification)

  1. Physical – money
  2. Mental – wisdom, knowledge and intelligence
  3. Social/Emotional – relationship
  4. Spiritual – love, faith and hope

Thus in my mind, the greatest of them all must be the spiritual realm. Have you found your will to meaning?

p/s: “In order to prove that something is not, one has to prove that every possible example of that something is not. While, if one wants to prove that something is, just one example would be enough. Viktor Frankl’s account of his experience as a concentration camp prisoner gives these examples, and not just one, but many. The examples of people whose will for meaning was stronger than death.”

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