Viktor Frankl wrote his famous memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, over a period of nine days in 1946, and it has become an indispensable meditation on the wisdom Frankl gleaned from his gruesome experience at Auschwitz. The horrific circumstances he faced – circumstances which caused many others to surrender their very will to live, caused Frankl to focus his energy on a pursuit of meaning. He sought to find a deep sense of personal relevance in the face of incomprehensible evil, helplessness, and hopelessness. This, in turn, led him to discover personal relevance could be found through the cultivation of:
· Purposeful work
· Developing a clarified, values-driven Vision and Goals
· The intentional loving of others
· Courage when confronted by extreme challenges
· Choosing not pursue material success, and instead, focus on allowing it to ensue
As we advance toward and through our purposeful work, as well as through loving others, we will inevitably be confronted by circumstances which require tremendous courage and perseverance. Frankl felt these situations – these periods of courageous suffering were key to our ability to progressively discover the deeper meanings to life and to positively change as a result of new realizations and perspectives. On this, Frankl commented, “Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”
What Does Life Expect of Us?
During his time in Auschwitz, Frankl fundamentally changed his perspective toward living, as he observed that what he wanted from life didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Rather, what truly mattered was: What did life expect of him, and could he live up to it all, in spite of the horrible circumstances which surrounded him each and every day?
Trying to apply Viktor Frankl’s other-centric philosophy today requires us to turn the current egocentric culture on its head, as implementation begs even more potentially life-changing questions such as:
· Why am I here?
· What have I been called to do?
· How can I make sure I will be able to achieve it?
By sincerely answering these questions, it’s my hope you will discover, like Frankl, that your work in dentistry isn’t just about what you want from life; rather it’s about much more. It’s about a “calling” driven by your desire to significantly help others.