In these difficult times, where many of our family members and those around us are passing away, where we are away from our loved ones, and sometimes feel anxious and disoriented, different existential questions may appear: What is the point All this? What is the meaning of suffering? What is the purpose of my life? Where am I going?
There is a lot of wisdom in Nietzsche's well-known phrase when he says: "Whoever has a reason to live can bear almost any how." Viktor Frankl in his book, "The man in search of meaning" (which I recommend his reading), argues that people who have a purpose or a meaningful life manage to overcome adversities with greater success, including, for example, the conditions so horrible from a concentration camp that Frankl describes to us.
It also happens that we live in the postmodern era, an era that characterizes a society forced to live in a more open and reflective way, depersonalized by various technologies, which faces risks and uncertainties daily and composed of social and cultural forms that offer little emotional containment and personal stability. All these transformations have caused anxiety and despair to increase forcefully and to diminish our internal resources to take charge of psychic suffering.
Wong (2012) explains that the existential meaning is related to at least 7 questions:
- Who I am?
- What should I do with my life to make it worthwhile?
- What can I do to find happiness and be satisfied in life?
- How can I make the right decisions in a time of moral ambiguity and conflicting values?
- Where am I from and where am I going?
- What is the meaning of living in the face of suffering and death?
- What happens after death?
Although everyone will have to answer their own questions, Yalom (1984) describes some activities that can help us find a sense of vital purpose:
- Altruism: the Royal Spanish Academy defines altruism as "Diligence in procuring the good of others even at the expense of their own." Making the world a better place, serving others, or volunteering are activities that provide meaning to many people's lives.
- Consecration to a causeFor example, religious. For an activity to have meaning it is important that the individual be raised above her own level.
- The creativity: The fact of creating something new, original or beautiful, constitutes a powerful antidote against the lack of vital sense.
- Self-realization: that is, the motivation for our own personal growth. Another source of personal meaning is the belief that human beings must strive for fulfillment and take time to put into practice all their potential qualities. Maslow tells us that "when the person feels fulfilled, he no longer cares about the" expression of himself "and cares about caring for others or engaging in goals that transcend his own self."