The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I
am, then I can change."
--Carl Rogers

I just finished reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. I had read about the book many times and finally got around to reading it.

Victor Frankl was a psychotherapist living in Vienna before World War II. He created what was called “The Third Viennese School of Psychology”. You probably heard of Sigmund Freud who was the father of psychoanalysis. More or less, Freud says that when you have a problem, it is probably caused by a neurosis and that is stopping you from getting pleasure out of life. It is probably the most common form of psychology.

Alfred Adler created the second school of psychology to come out of Vienna. He talked about man trying to get power. It was Adler who formed the idea that if someone is feeling inferior they will mask that by claiming power over others and acting as if they feel superior.

I actually prefer Frankl’s ideas on psychology. Frankl came up with the idea of “logotherapy”. In Greek, “logo” means “meaning”. Frankl said that man has to have meaning in his life. If someone came in for psychotherapy, he would help the person to find meaning in their own life, often this meant finding a meaning outside themselves.

Frankl used this thinking to help him get through the Nazi holocaust, when he was in concentration camps and subjected to truly inhumane conditions. Rather than thinking about himself and his own survival, he though of his wife and how they would live after the horror ended. Or he thought of the manuscript he began before the war and wanted to finish. He imagined himself presenting the ideas before an audience of his peers. He found meaning in his life outside of himself and because he had meaning in his life, he had a will and reason to live.

Thank God most of us will never be tested like Frankl was. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to find meaning in our own lives. Frankl often quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, a late 19th century philosopher, who said “He who has a why to live can bear any how.” So what is the “why” in your life? What is the meaning in your life? The reason it is important to answer that question is that once you have the answer, your level of motivation to succeed skyrockets. If you go to work because you are “supposed to” go to work, you are pretty unmotivated. And if you go to work because you have bills to pay, you are pretty unmotivated.

But imagine you go to work because you are 3 months from away from having enough money to buy a diamond ring for your girlfriend. You already know exactly which store you are going to buy it from and you have the ring picked out. You already have the whole scene playing in your head. You will propose on a spring weekend, on the beach, at sunset. You will tell her how much you love her, paint a picture of the rest of your lives together and then take out the ring and ask her to marry you.

Now you are motivated to go to work. And if the boss offers you some overtime, you are motivated to take it. And let’s be serious, if you are this motivated, your boss will probably notice and offer you the overtime instead of someone else. Or the customer will notice and give you a bigger tip. Or whatever the case might be.

Bottom line is … people who are more motivated are more likely to succeed. And people who succeed are more likely to be motivated. It is a wonderful cycle to be in. And how do you get into that cycle? Figure out your “why”. Figure out your meaning in life.

Don’t create or invent the meaning of your life. It already exists. Don’t reinvent yourself, accept yourself as you are and realize what meaning your life already has. Then get to work creating a life to fulfill that meaning.

In the afterword of Frankl’s book, William Winslade writes that Frankl was asked the meaning of his own life. He wrote it down on a piece of paper and asked his students to guess what he wrote down. One student guessed it exactly. The meaning of Frank’s life was “to help others find the meaning of theirs.”

I have realized that the purpose of my life is to inspire others to live in happiness and in gratitude. To that end, I write these articles, among other things.

So, again, what is the meaning of your life? Figure it out and start living it!

Author's Bio: 

Shaya Kass has been an educator for as long as he can remember. He stays inspired while working on his computer thanks to an inspiring quotes screensaver that is available at

Shaya loves getting feedback about his writing and teaching. Please send a comment to