Authentically and Humanely
The path of a psychologist is a constant study in human nature and reflections of life’s interconnectedness. Many years ago I came across the work of Victor Frankl. In a short but very influential book written in 1946 entitled “Man’s Search For Meaning”, Dr Frankl put forth a concept that has guided my work and shaped up my philosophy to life. I was particularly moved by the fact that Dr. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor as were my parents.
Even in the worst possible situations that we can find ourselves, our survival and most importantly our sanity depends on our ability to make sense of events and find meaning to life. His point of view was based on the idea that people are “strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely to life’s challenges…”
There are certainly days that I know we can all lose sight of the values and purposes of our lives. It is unfortunate that in today's times we again face life threatening challenges as we struggle to have to cope with world wide catastrophic events. It is through direct human interactive connections that we most experience events that help us make sense of life.
When I recently retired as a psychologist my daily life personal contacts reduced significantly. Starting a new path I found volunteerism to be a fountain of youth to sustain my need for direct human involvement. Participating directly with others on nature projects gave me a path for responding authenticity and humanely to life challenges. Yet now living in a socially safe distanced world those direct contact doors have been severely reduced.
Still I work at trying to maintain a positive human quality to life. As I have previous pointed out in earlier blog entries we all have a choice as to the type of person we are. I try not to give into the “what the hell “ attitude and succumb to depression and anger, which I know lurks nearby. There are still ways to smile on each other, to contribute to the greater good and to stay kind to each other whether family, neighbor or stranger.
It may be uncomfortable to become involved. It will require a willingness to learn new technology or even redefine the importance of our work. From front line essential workers to retirees, we can all see how important trying to stay positive can be to good emotional health. It is too easy to give up and become cynical, depressed and angry.
As much as I would prefer to participate with direct face to face activities, I can find meaning by volunteering on line whether as a campaign worker, therapist, author or nature photographer. The challenge is to hold onto your passions and find new ways to engage others from alternative mediums.
Keep in mind it does not take a large scale activity to experience meaningfulness in our daily lives. The concepts of mindfulness point out that every moment has meaning. Whether its cleaning up a closet, washing a window, enjoying a book, cooking and baking, making a phone call, playing a musical instrument, singing a song, taking a walk etc., these events can be approached with authenticity.
Life on the Experience Road has an abundance of lessons to teach and guide us. I take strength from Dr. Victor Frankl’s life and work and his ability to grow from his days in the concentration camps. I also remember my parents similarly showing me that whatever shortfalls they faced they picked themselves up with hope and keep going forward to make life better.
These times are no different. We can still choose to look for the good in others to find the good in ourselves. We can choose to be a person who is a healing white blood cell or a deadly virus to humanity. Recall, as I posted previously, say five positive comments each day to family members and friends. Hug your children and spouses. Wave to strangers you pass on the street and look into each other's eyes.
We will grow from this pandemic. We will redefine our values and redirect our efforts so that we can all live authentically and humanely together on this beautiful blue/green planet.