Years ago a psychologist named Viktor Frankl stood up to Sigmund Freud. Freud was teaching what man wanted most in life was pleasure. Frankl disagreed, he believed man wasn’t seeking pleasure as much as he was seeking a deep sense of meaning.
In fact, he went on to say:
“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”
I believe Frankl was right.
And I think it’s obvious. Everybody around us, especially during the holidays, is seeking to receive and give pleasure, but pleasure very rarely satisfies. And in the rare case it does satisfy, its only for a fleeting second until you want more.
Viktor Frankl spent most of his life studying the vast mystery of meaning, and came up with a prescription for how we can experience it ourselves;
His prescription was simple:
- Have a project you’re working on that requires your unique skills and abilities. And preferably a project that helps others.
- Live in Community with other like-minded individuals and Share your life experiences within the context of safe and loving relationships.
- Find a redemptive perspective on your suffering and challenges.
These concepts were the basis for the journals we made for our UN-LIFE Leadeship Retreat this past Summer. Frankl’s thoughts inspired me to structure my life differently. To wake up every day and identify a few projects that needed my attention and made a to-do list for each.
I quickly began to realize we weren’t meant to sit around and wait for life to happen. We were meant to chase a worthy pursuit.
I also began to pay more attention to my relationships. I stopped looking to “join a community” and created one of my own. I walked away from unhealthy relationships and started spending more time with people who were non-judgmental, kind, supportive and loving.
This had a terrific effect on my stability and attitude. I found myself feeling more content, confident, balanced, and loved.
Lastly, I acknowledged that some of my hardest experiences had actually been blessings. My divorce was something that for the longest time I was let define me. I let it plague me with guilt and shame. But once I really sat down and took the time to reflect, what happened was this amazing redemption story that came as an overflow from my failures and shortcomings. This may have been the most healing exercise of my life.
You are not your failures - You are not your short comings.
If you are plagued by either Guilt or Shame, you need to know those feelings are not from God and they are coming into your life through the Enemy of your Soul, and you need to actively work on finding redemption as soon as possible. There is no feeling as freeing as that. I promise you.
Let’s celebrate the Christmas story by living our best stories yet.
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