Viktor Frankl believed the key to the successful creation of a happy and successful life was to aim toward a deeply significant and meaningful life purpose. On this, he commonly referenced Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “He who has a Why to live for can tolerate with almost any How.” Suffering is no fun, but suffering for a deeply significant purpose becomes much more tolerable when you know that the end will justify the means.
On love, Frankl said, “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of their personality. No one can become fully aware of every essence of another person unless they truly love them, because by love we are enabled to see the essential traits and features in the other person; and even more importantly, see that which is potential in them—that which is not yet actualized, but ought to be actualized.” So, this begs yet another challenging question: Do we love our patients enough to suffer with them, as well as help them to become more of what they are capable of becoming through our collaborative work in dentistry?
Finding Courage in the Face of Adversity
The practice of true relationship-based / health-centered dentistry represents a counter-cultural decision with regard to mainstream thinking and behavior, as corporate dentistry is rapidly moving the profession in the exact opposite direction. Consequently, dedicating oneself to a truly patient-centered philosophy requires courage, commitment, and perseverance. Additionally, one is likely to experience tepid local support for it, as most peers will be following a very different philosophy – a philosophy focused on what they want or need to get out of dentistry, and not what life expects of them. Regardless, the striving for a cause greater than oneself, allows us to experience more meaning in a month than most corporate dentists find over their entire career.
Regarding the achievement of material success, Frankl wrote, “Don’t aim for it, because the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as a by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
As you can see, meaning and personal relevance can’t be bought, copied, or transferred. Rather, it’s an inside-out process which must be discovered within ourselves and then refined over time. If this is the kind of challenging, growth-oriented journey which motivates and inspires you, then The Pankey Institute represents the very best place to both begin it, as well as nurture it all along the way.