The meaning of my life is to help others find meaning in theirs. Viktor Emil Frankl (1905 - 1997)
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why. Mark Twain writer (1835-1910)
- 1 Life is lived in a paradox of evolution and crisis
- 2 The crises associated with different decades in life
- 3 Life expectancy can be lived as a life without hope
- 4 The uniqueness in the chronology of life
- 5 Do we all seek to make sense of our lives?
- 6 In the search for the meaning of life
Life is lived in a paradox of evolution and crisis
Growing up as human beings is accompanied by a series of goals, linked to obstacles to overcome. Psychoneuroendócrinoimmunologia has taught us today that people undergoing chronic and acute stress, they live less, and take longer to recover from physical injuries.
On the other hand, there is also strong scientific evidence that associates the mismanagement of our emotions, product of the problems of everyday life and stress, associated with diseases ending in “itis” (colitis, gastritis, for example), related to conflicts somatized and unsolved.
So, if you think your life is important you will live more years.
The first scientist who investigated the meaning of life was Viktor Frankl (1905-1997). The word meaning comes from the Indo-European sent root, which means "follow a path or take a direction." The modern explanation of the meaning of life is very close to the original meaning of the term, since it implies orientation towards values and objectives (Retzbach, 2018).
Viktor Frankl's approaches contravened those of Freud and Adler, who thought that the motor of life resided in instinctive drives (Eros and Thanatos), or in the desire for power, respectively.
The followers of Frankl, suppose that people want to reach a life with full meaning, and that who does not get it suffers.
The crises associated with different decades in life
As a pedagogical strategy, different stages of life associated with crisis, goals resolved or not, that could lead us to think the meaning of our lives.
- Javier He is finishing his career and now he does not know whether to continue studying or working. He does not even know if his profession is the best he has chosen because he has heard that there is not much work of that. It is going through the crisis of the living room.
- Leticia goes through the third floor, reaching the 30th has brought you many goals; Some compliments, others not. He feels closer to 40 and blames himself for not having taken advantage of when he was 20. He has a career and works, he even has a partner, but he has not been able to leave his parents' house, he still has no children, no house. And, every time she compares with her friends, she thinks they are fully happy and she is not.
- Ricardo is 40 years old and wonders if he has really covered the goals he had set since he was young. He has been through a divorce, he is still employed by a company where it is hardly seen that he can grow. Suddenly he grabs the second air and is attracted to the younger girls. However, something you can not avoid, is to see how your hair and mustache begins to paint gray hair. And, although he tries to hide it, he gets tired faster than before and it is impossible not to hide the crow's feet that have formed. He still wonders if he reaches the highest point of what his life can be, if he can fulfill all unfinished dreams, some that only he knows and others who, no matter how determined, have not arrived. An undeniable fact is the passage of youth. Live a true psycho-emotional crisis.
- In most men and women in their fifties, there is a real hormonal crisis with the arrival of andropause (men) and the menopause (women) lowering the degree of sexual activity. For women it means the end of their reproductive stage loaded with hot flashes and emotional states accompanied by crying. And, for some men it may be like the arrival of the second adolescence. In both there is a true biological crisis: dry skin and hair, muscle weakness and insomnia, decreased sex drive Y erectile dysfunction and alteration in bone density, to name just a few. What drags a crisis of anxiety and uncertainty. If all this occurs with a degenerative chronic disease, it begins to depend more on the children, the couple or the family. It is very likely that at this point some friends have left this planet and most people do not remember the music or social context they lived.
- At sixty Some people fear for their health, most children have become independent. The couple could stop being and the professional life could have come to an end. There may be memory crises, retirement is presented and it is a breaking point between dependent and independent living. Not only is the loss of friends, partners or family members worse. Sometimes they do not find a reference to talk about because the history of the daily life of children is sometimes a subworld that few know. For example, their childhood games are encrypted behaviors that only they understand (having played the top, the yo-yo, the bobbin, the mat, to throw the soldiers with marbles and more).
- When turning 70, you can live with the stereotype of the old age of the elderly, with a curved back, with the decrease of physical and intellectual abilities, but you can also live life fully.
Existential crises increase the risk of anxiety and depression and can even lead to suicide (Retzbach, 2018). In 2012, a study conducted by Boyle Buchman, found in people who gave a meaning to his life, two factors that acted as protectors in the Alzheimer's, namely, good psychic health and an active social life (Thivissen, 2018).
Life expectancy can be lived as a life without hope
Life expectancy in Mexico for 2016, according to INEGI (2019) data, is for women 78 years and for men 73.
What to do with a life, no matter how many years we are alive? How to find meaning? Life is a paradox, children want to be big, teenagers a little older, young adults have the assets of mature adults, mature adults want to have a quieter life, without the pressures of having achieved their goals or not of life.
If we manage to make sense of our life or not, no matter our age, life will still have charged its bill. When we have time, we don't have money and when we have money we don't have time. When we have youth we have no experience, and when we have experience youth is gone.
It seems that we are trapped in a circuit where the snake bites itself. So, the crises in life can lead us to get sick more easily and die, but if we live it more fully, it has protective effects from a medical point of view.
Research such as that of Tatjana Schnell, shows that a marked vital sense, predicts a longer life expectancy. In addition, individuals who see meaning in their lives are likely to take better care of their health (Thivissen, 2018).
The uniqueness in the chronology of life
- In the biological, life is a constant growth and a process of adaptation to new stages marked by stages of life: being babies, children, adolescents, being young, mature and elderly adults. Our cells are born, grow, reproduce and die, in a cycle of renewal and life cycle. Each stage brings us reflections on ourselves and social interaction in health, especially because our body is changing.
- In the psycho-emotional, In principle, the challenge of doing or thinking things that people older than us do, make us distinguish ourselves in the positive from others, and is full of emotions. Without realizing each new challenge, it leads us to a host of activities (positive or negative) that sooner or later tend to overwhelm us creating psychological stress or even perceive that we can never reach the abilities of others. Many times it also leads us to boredom and creates a psychological stress that will sooner or later lead us to a biological one. Leaving a feeling of emptiness or bottomless barrel. Our emotions are capable of getting sick or creating great states of satisfaction.
- In the transcendental, sooner or later we could ask ourselves basic questions that also generate us great pleasures or satisfactions and even give direction to our life or make us really live aimlessly.
- Who I am?. It is defined with our personality traits, those that drive us or stop us as people.
- Where I go?. It is the direction that I want to have in terms of finding a profession or trade, even if we decide for ourselves we can change or maintain it throughout life.
- Who do I go with?. We can make the choice to go alone or in the company of a couple, friends or family. It is normal to even experience changes with any of them throughout life or stay from the beginning to the end of our passage through this planet.
- The base is the first question and they function as a rising staircase to reach another one that encompasses all the previous ones. What is the meaning of my life? If we have difficulties to solve any, we will be prevented from transcending and we can feel uncertain and without a definite direction.
Do we all seek to make sense of our lives?
It seems that all human beings would have to go through finding meaning in our lives, but it is not necessarily so.
In my view there is a continuum oriented to find meaning in life. That goes from who in the early stages of his life is clear, others fight to be clear and others do not worry.
- Live for live, without asking why, or for what? It would be a leisure-oriented living, the immediate. Live carefree. You settle for what you have or what comes to you, without pretending more. Today, many young people feel that the demands of the world exceed them and lead them to live a kind of indifference towards the meaning of their own life. On the other hand, there are other young people who value little what they have and live a somewhat empty life even with many satisfactory most of them provided by their parents, but they do not find meaning in their life, as it happens in white depression .
- Look for the most vital just
- What is necessary just
- And forget about worry
- Only the very essential
- To live without a fight
- And nature gives it to you
- (Song from the jungle book: Find the most vital)
- Go through periods of crisis, where you wonder why or why live ?. This phase would be mediated by crises at different stages of life. Where sooner or later you ask yourself:
- Who am I? Where do I go? And with whom, am I going?
- From very early ages they find a meaning to live.
- Carl Friedrich Gauss. “He was born in Brunswick in 1777 and died in Göttingen in 1855. As a child he demonstrated great ability with numbers. At the age of three he was able to correct a ruling that his father had made in calculating the salaries of some masons who worked for him. At the age of ten, his school teacher, who wanted peace in class, ordered the children to add all the numbers from 1 to 100. Little Gauss, almost immediately, wrote the solution on his board: 5050 ”(Stories of Mathematics, 2019). When little Carl said the result to his teacher, the poor boy was beaten as his teacher thought he had cheated, copying the result from somewhere. He was considered a child prodigy, although his parents were humble peasants. “Gauss was not sure of his vocation: mathematics or philology; but he liked his results so much that he dedicated himself to mathematics ”(Mathematics Stories, 2019). He was a German mathematician, astronomer, geobotanist and physicist who contributed significantly in many fields, including number theory, mathematical analysis, differential geometry, statistics, algebra, geodesy, magnetism and optics (Wikipedia, 2019) . He is considered one of the most important mathematicians in history.
In the search for the meaning of life
The diversity of people on this planet suggests that there is no single point of view to make sense of our life.
The psychologist Tatjana Schnell of the University of Innsbruck describes that the meaning of life can be recognized through four characteristics:
- The significance, that is, the feeling that what is carried out matters, that makes a difference.
- Membership, is the feeling that you have a place in the world.
- Coherence, if what happens in life is harmonic and congruent, and
- The orientation, know the values and objectives that define it (Retzbach, 2018).
Schnell (Schell, cited in Retzbach, 2018), also proposes 26 sources that give meaning to our lives and grouped them into 5 major categories:
- Horizontal: Union with nature, social involvement, self-knowledge, health and generativity.
- Vertical: Explicit religiousness and Spirituality.
- Self-realization: Challenges, individualism, creativity, knowledge, freedom, performance and development.
- Order: Moral, common sense, roots and tradition.
- Feelings of identity and well-being: Community, fun, well-being, love, conscious life, care and harmony.
In the best case, a balanced combination of at least three of these five areas should be achieved. To put it another way, the more positive karmapoints we add, we can feel fuller and more satisfied with our life, with the positive consequences that come from it.
A very punctual example of how many people solve their existential crises and give meaning to their lives, results from long and often strenuous walks of faithful with a high religious fervor as happens in the pilgrims' journey on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and in Mexico with the arrival from remote villages to the Basilica of Guadalupe.
Suggestions for change
- People who have a sense of life, have better physical, psychological, emotional health and are happier. They are more sociable, optimistic and manage their stress better. Cushion the negative consequences of stress.
- Giving meaning to our life goes beyond the accumulation of goods, is a purpose for which to live.
- People who give a reason for their existence suffer fewer heart disorders (cerebrovascular accidents) and dementias (Alzheimer's). Learning that life itself has a special sense, helps to overcome stressful situations and to cultivate beneficial habits for the cognitive performance of the brain. People who consider their life meaningful are more goal oriented and more resilient. Therapeutic interventions make it easier for people to find the meaning of life and contribute to the treatment of certain diseases (Thivissen, 2018).
- Inflammatory processes are more reduced in those who have a meaning in their lives (Retzbach, 2018).
- Some people find their sense of life helping others, doing volunteer actions or raising children or grandchildren (own or others).
Mathematics Stories (2019), Biography of Carl Friedrich Gauss, accessed January 24, 2019, Online: //www.um.es/docencia/pherrero/mathis/gauss/gau.htm
INEGI (2019) Life expectancy, Accessed January 23, 2019, Online: //cuentame.inegi.org.mx/poblacion/esperanza.aspx?tema=P
Retzbach J. (2018) Happiness is built with meaning, Journal of Psychology and Neurosciences, Mind and Brain, May - June 2018, p. , Barcelona.
Thivissen P. (2018) The importance of the meaning of life, Journal of Psychology and Neurosciences, Mind and Brain, May - June 2018, p. , Barcelona.
Wikipedia (2019) Carl Friedrich Gauss, accessed January 24, 2019, online: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Friedrich_Gauss