He who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW. Life is not a quest for pleasure or a quest for meaning. The greatest quest is to find meaning in life. The possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for others) and in courage during challenging times.
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. 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. The last of human freedom – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. There were always choices to make. Everyday, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob of your very self, your inner freedom, which determined whether or not you would become the victim of circumstances.
An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.
Instead of taking life’s difficulties as a test of their inner strength, they did not take their life seriously and despised it as something of no consequences. They preferred to close their eyes and to live in the past. Life for such people became meaningless. It is an unique capability of man that he can only live by looking to the future – sub specie aeternitatis. And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task.
We had to learn ourselves and furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead of think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life- daily and hourly. One answer must consist, not in talk and meditation but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
In previous post, I shared that I was suffering from “unemployment neurosis” earlier this year. This neurosis originated from a twofold erroneous identification: being jobless was equated with being useless and being useless was equated with having a meaningless life. Studies show that when this group of people who suffered from unemployment neurosis volunteer in youth organizations, adult education, public libraries and the like – in other words, as soon as they could fill their abundant free time with some sort of unpaid but meaningful activity – their depression disappeared although their economic situation had not changed and their hunger was the same. True enough, I started work in April and I was too busy to monitor the drop in market prices, my depression seems to disappear on its own.
I will continue with my quest to seek meaning in life.