The secret to long life: Man’s Search for meaning

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Do you want to have long life? It is very simple. Anyone can, not accounting for the things outside our control. That’s because we are all born with the need for the very thing in our lives.

I was reading Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning when I came across a shocking concept in the pages: Provisional existence. He describes the concentration camps as provisional existence of unknown limit. The prisoners were in effect sentenced to death, only they didn’t know if it was going to be in two days or in two years. This state cuts off the life force that keeps you living because of a hope for a future. Then decay physically and psychologically quickens. They had nothing to live for, nothing to hope for, they had no future. Or at least no physical future as Dr Frankl points out because most ignored the present and did all they can to diminish it, because the future has been taken from them. What was more shocking he said that the same thing happens to unemployed people as seen in a study done on coal mines who lost their employment.

Image by Rob van Ruiten from Pixabay 

Given the current unemployment rate in South Africa, imagining millions of people living with a level of hopelessness that is mentioned on the same sentence as a concentration camp prisoner unsettled me a great deal. However, to be unemployed and free affords some provisions that a concentration camps victim did not have. Dr Frankl writes that there is power in respecting the present in all its glory and gore because denying it is denying your own existence and calling that inconsequential and meaningless. Ultimately (wo)man must have something to live for to continue living. Whether it’s a loved one or an unfinished project.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, ” He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” In their case it was not as simple as creating through tasks and executing these, to them accepting their suffering daily as it came built more resilience than wising it away, or conjuring a hope of a nearby date of emancipation. I wrote about the power of surrender in my new book on loss and love, and it is a theme of my last season of growth that I aim to never forget and hope you get to find out more about it in a few months when my full book is released.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

Find your why. Picture it in your mind every morning when you wake up. Then go and do all in your strength to make it happen- the creating process. If it’s not a physical task, still. Find it. And when it comes about, enjoy it. This too is part of life, then go and form another why. You see how important it is, so make it something worthwhile, because your very life depends on it.


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