What is the goal here?
What goals need to we pursue in order to have a happy life?
The purpose of our existence is the most significant subject. It has been debated by several intellectuals both past and present (Baggini, 2005; & Eagleton, 2007.)
Read More: Harry Roselmack
In general, there are two groups of meaning theorists. Some people think that we have to create our own meanings because existence has no inherent purpose. According to them, the purpose of life is a personal decision.
Some people argue that life has a purpose that cannot be altered. However, they don’t always agree on what that meaning may be. Love and happiness are the most often mentioned competitors. Self-realization, connections, enjoyment, service, and creativity are some often mentioned ideas.
Scholars on both sides of the dispute are included in the list below. It should be illuminating, I hope.
1. Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaning: The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust is at the top of my list (as are many lists of similar nature) (Frankl, 1946, 2004). Written between 1905 and 1997, it was authored by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and the man behind logotherapy.
Frankl contends that giving life purpose, in whatever shape it may take, is our main responsibility. He says that in order to survive, we must find purpose even in our pain.
According to Frankl’s autobiographical portion of his incredibly touching book, survivors of the Nazi extermination camps were more likely to have maintained a connection to their purpose in life. Their individual meanings were rather diverse. It may be a burning desire to see a loved one again, finish a challenging academic or artistic endeavor, or just have a great drive to serve others.
“(1) by doing a deed or creating a work; (2) by encountering someone or experiencing something; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering,” according to Frankl, are the three primary ways that we might find the meaning of life (Frankl 2004, p. 115).
Creativity in its broadest sense might be the purpose of our life. This covers both artistic endeavors as well as simple creation, education, or productivity. The experience of love and the admiration of greatness, beauty, culture, and the natural world may likewise hold significance.
Most importantly, Frankl (2004, p. 115) contends that meaning must exist somewhere other than within us. Rather than being found inside our own minds, it must be found outside of ourselves. He states that “being human always points, and is directed, toward something, or someone, other than oneself—be it an encounter with another human being, or a meaning to fulfill.”
Thus, Frankl’s existentialist perspective challenges us to let go of our fixation on happiness, self-actualization, and other ideals. Rather, he exhorts us to concentrate on meanings that exist beyond the confines of our own psyches.
2. Epictetus: Of Human Freedom
Epictetus, a former Greek slave who lived from 55 to 135 CE, shared the other Stoic philosophers’ strong belief that we can regulate our ideas to regulate our emotions.
Epictetus said that it is useless to worry about external occurrences because the most of them are beyond of our control. However, we have complete influence over how we perceive these experiences. This means that we shouldn’t give any external event or phenomenon any weight. Instead, in order to regulate our brains, all of our mental resources should be focused within.
Epictetus said that we should always assess our thoughts objectively and use reason to dispel unpleasant emotions. He proposed that our minds should be equipped with a logical fact-checker whose job it is to maintain equilibrium and composure. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has its roots in ancient Stoic thinking.
The essay “Of Human Freedom” by Epictetus provides a lovely and succinct overview of stoic philosophy. He writes on topics such as “On satisfaction,” “How we should struggle with circumstance,” “Concerning what is in our power and what is not,” and “How a person can preserve their proper character in any situation.” “Every circumstance represents an opportunity,” he reminds us.
We have less control over things that are beyond of our control the more we value them. According to Epictetus (2010), p. 81, freedom is thus “not achieved by satisfying desire but by eliminating it.” Epictetus claims that because life is painful, terrible things will happen.
When they happen, we may test our determination and fortify our resilience by using our misfortune. Therefore, when difficulties arise, picture yourself as a wrestler who God has matched with a strong, youthful buck, much like a trainer. For what reason? to get you fit for the Olympics” (Epictetus, 2010, p. 14).
Control is the ultimate goal of the Stoics. To become totally impervious to the numerous blows that fate has in store for us, they wish to rule their own home. They essentially want an extreme form of inner freedom that bestows total independence from outside forces. They contend that developing a stoic attitude is the highest good in life. Peace within is the reward.
3. Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living”
The 14th Tibetan Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler coauthored the best-selling self-help book The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (2009).
Cutler adds tales from his work as a psychiatrist and neuroscientific justifications for brain plasticity to the Dalai Lama’s age-old teachings. It is powerful to combine contemporary science with traditional wisdom.
Cutler and the Dalai Lama contend that Buddhism provides a useful intellectual, psychological, and spiritual foundation for changing oneself, primarily via the practice of compassion. The Dalai Lama really states that compassion is the foundation of his faith.
Nonetheless, a crucial cognitive component is also necessary for Buddhist bliss. In order to truly be happy, we must accept the fact that our concept of a permanent, distinct self is false, and that it is largely to blame for our misery.