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Man's search for meaning

by Shaun Kober
April 11th 2022

 “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, to choose one's own way.”

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what does it mean to live life to the fullest train to your potential and perform at your best leave nothing on the table. That's a non negotiable is that I strive to be better every day because if I'm not on top of my game, how is anybody else going to follow me down the road? Keep demanding more of yourself to live up to that potential and to stay hungry. Training is progress. You know, when I look at the word training, I think of steps, baby steps to get somewhere that you want to be and that is basically your life journey. That's a mindset and itself man, it's like, it's not just about I know that for you, a lot of that's about the physical, but we're constantly in training, whether it's growing our skill sets, whether it's growing our physical bodies, whether it's growing our relationships, whatever and all of that is a training ground and that kind of goes back to the mindset that we just talked about. You underestimate yourself and you don't even start, but then once you start, you often surpass what you thought you could do perform at your best money. That's that's sort of what life is all about. You know, I don't have the knowledge and have the fitness, the healthy ambition and drive that no matter what comes along when that next phone call comes, I can just say yes, I don't have to worry, just go and do it.

Yo what is up guys, Welcome back to the live train, perform podcast? I'm your host, Sean Cobra during last week's episode, I spoke about getting away for a digital detox weekend where I turned my phone off. I sit with my thoughts. I journal I read I walk along the beach and just basically take stock of where I'm at in my life. I write down things I'm grateful for as well as set some intentions moving forward. But one of the things that I really love doing on one of those weekends away is reading. And during that particular weekend I read a book from cover to cover. There's a book that I've read before and it's a book that I will continue reading, many many times over the course of the rest of my life because it's such a powerful and impactful book and it's constantly in my top five book list that I recommend to people when they reach out and they asked what books they should be reading. And this book is called Man's Search for meaning, by Viktor Frankl, who was a survivor of many of the concentration camps of World War Two.

Over the course of, I think it was about 3.5 years he survived these camps now. Uh something that he talks about in the book is man needing something meaningful to live for. Now. I'm going to read off a couple of excerpts from this book, which is broken down into two main components of the book. So the first part is where he talks about his experiences in those concentration camps, and then the second part of the book is psychoanalysis technique that he developed called logo therapy. All right, let's get this episode underway. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof 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, to choose one's own way, and there are always choices to make every day. 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 you of your very self, your inner freedom, which determine whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than the mere expression of certain physical and sociological conditions, even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways. In the final analysis, it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally. Therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances decide what shall become of him mentally and spiritually, he may retain his human dignity. Even in a concentration camp, Kostovski said once, there is only one thing that I dread not to be worthy of my sufferings.

These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, who is suffering and death bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their suffering. The way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom which cannot be taken away that makes life meaningful and purposeful. An active life serves the purpose of giving men 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 a purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment, and which admits have bought one possibility of high moral behavior, namely in man's attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces. A creative life and a life of enjoyment. Our band to him, but not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life even as fate and death without suffering and death.

Human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails. The way in which he takes up his cross gives him ample opportunity. Even under the most difficult circumstances, to add a deeper meaning to his life, it may remain brave, dignified and unselfish or in the bitter fight for self preservation. He may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. He lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him, and this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not. One of the prisoners who, on his arrival marked with a long column of new inmates from the station to the camp told me later that he had felt as though he were marching at his own funeral. His life had seemed to him absolutely without future. He regarded it as over and done as if he had already died. This feeling of lifelessness was intensified by other causes in time. It was the limitless nous of the term of imprisonment which was most acutely felt in space.

The narrow limits of the prison, anything outside the barbed wire became remote out of reach and in a way unreal. The events and the people outside all the normal life there had a ghostly aspect for the prisoner, the outside life that is as much as he could see of. It appeared to him almost as it might have to a dead man who had looked at it from another world, a man who let himself declined because he could not see any future goal. Found himself occupied with retrospective thoughts in a different connection. We have already spoken of. The tendency there was to look into the past to help make the present with all its horrors less real. But in robbing the present of its reality, there lay a certain danger. It became easy to overlook the opportunities to make something positive out of camp life opportunities which really did exist regarding our provisional existence as unreal was in itself. An important factor in causing the prisoners to lose their hold on life. Everything in a way became pointless. Such people forgot that often. It is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.

Instead of taking the camps difficulties as a test of their inner strength, they did not take their life seriously and despised it as something of no consequence. They preferred to close their eyes and live in the past life for such people became meaningless. Any attempt at fighting the camp psychopath, a logical influence on the prisoner, by psychotherapeutic or psycho. Hygienic methods had to aim at giving him inner strength by pointing out to him a future goal to which he could look forward instinctively. Some of the prisoners attempted to find one on their own. It is a peculiar reality of man, that he can only live by looking to the future, and this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence. Although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task. I remember a personal experience almost in tears, from pain caused by having terrible sores on my feet from wearing torn shoes. I limped a few kilometers with our long column of men from the camp to our work site. Very cold, bitter wind struck us. I kept thinking of the endless little problems of our miserable life. What would there be to eat tonight if a piece of sausage came as an extra ration? Should I exchange it for a piece of bread?

Should I trade my last cigarette which was left from a bonus I received a fortnight ago ago for a bowl of soup. How could I get a piece of wire to replace the fragment which served as one of my shoelaces? Would I get to our work site in time to join my usual working party? Or would I have to join another? Which might have a brutal foreman? What could I do to get on good terms with the capo? Who could help me obtain work in camp instead of undertaking this horribly long, daily March. I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me daily and hourly to think of only such trivial things. I forced myself to turn to another subject. Suddenly I saw myself standing on the platform of well lit, warm and pleasant lecture room in front of me satin, an attentive audience on comfortable upholstered seats. I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp. All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the remote viewpoint of science. By this method I succeeded somehow in rising above the situation above the sufferings of the moment, and I observed them as if they were already in the past. Both I and my troubles became the object of an interesting psycho scientific study undertaken by myself.

What does Spinoza saying? His ethics, emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. The prisoner who had lost faith in the future. His future was doomed with his loss of belief in the future. He also lost his spiritual hold. He let himself declined and became subject to mental and physical decay. Usually this happened quite suddenly in the form of a crisis, the symptoms of which were familiar to the experienced camp inmate. We all feared this moment, not for ourselves, which would have been pointless, but for our friends. Usually. It began with the prisoner refusing one morning to get dressed and wash or go out on parade grounds, no entreaties, no blows, no threats, had any effect. He just lay there hardly moving. If this crisis was brought about by an illness, he refused to be taken to the sick bay or do anything to help himself, he simply gave up there. He remained, lying in his own excrement, and nothing bothered him anymore. We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life, even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.

For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph. To turn one's predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change the situation, just think of an incurable disease, such as inoperable cancer, We are challenged to change ourselves. Let me cite a clear cut example. Once an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe severe depression, he could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before, and whom he loved above all else. Now, how could I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with the question, What would have happened, doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you? Oh! He said. For her, this would have been terrible. How she would have suffered. Whereupon I replied, You see dr such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering. To be sure at the price, that now you have to survive and mourn her! He said no word, but shook my hand and calmly left my office.

In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. Of course this was no therapy in the proper sense, since first his despair was no disease, and second, I could not change his fate. I could not revive his wife, but in that moment I did succeed in changing his attitude toward his unalterable fate. Inasmuch as from that time on he could at least see a meaning in his suffering. It is one of the basic tenets of logo therapy, that man's main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer. On the condition. To be sure that his suffering has a meaning. But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering, provided certainly that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable. However, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological or political to suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic logo therapy.

Conceives of conscious as a prompter, which, if need be, indicates the direction in which we have to move in a given life situation in order to carry out such a task, conscience must apply a measuring stick to the situation one is confronted with and this situation has to be evaluated in the light of a set of criteria. In the light of a hierarchy of values. As logo therapy teachers, there are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning of life. The first is by creating a work or by doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone. In other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love. Edith Weitz cop jolson observed in this context that the logo therapeutic notion that experiencing can be as valuable as achieving is therapeutic because it compensates for our one sided emphasis on the external world of achievement, at the expense of the internal world of experience. Most important however, is the third avenue to meaning in life, even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself and by doing so change himself.

He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph. Again, it was Edith who as mentioned on page 114 once expressed the hope that logo therapy may help counteract certain unhealthy trends in the present day culture of the United States where the incurable sufferer is given very little opportunity to be proud of his suffering and to consider it an ennobling rather than degrading so that he is not only unhappy but also ashamed of being unhappy and that rounds out this episode. This is one of my favorite books that I typically recommend to people. It's always in my top five list of books and where it sits on that list will depend on the person that I'm recommending it to. So again, this is one of those books that I've taken so much from over the years ah and I will continue to read, moving forward and I'm sure I will continue taking a lot from this book when I'm in different frames of mind, different states of mind, different seasons of my life. So that's it for me today guys, thanks for tuning in. This episode was brought to you by Swiss eight, which is a proactive mental health program designed by veterans initially for veterans, that has been pushed out to the wider community that allows you to structure in and schedule their eight pillars of health and wellness, including nutrition, sleep time management, discipline, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism.

This episode was also brought to you by be spunky, which is a male hormone optimization supplement that I've been taking for about a year and a half now, absolutely rate, it is a TJ listed nutraceutical meaning that it's made from all organic produce to help you manage and optimize your stress levels, which in turn increases your ability to improve testosterone production levels naturally. User code codes 10 at checkout for your 10% discount. All of those links will be in the show notes. If you've got some benefit from this episode, please make sure you pass it off to your friends and family. I'd appreciate any shares on social media platforms. If you tag me or if you share it to your stories, make sure you tag me so I can share that as well. Any five star ratings and reviews are much appreciated. Much love guys, Peace.

Man's search for meaning
Man's search for meaning
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