Aging and The Meaning of Life
“We do not exist for ourselves.” Thomas Merton
My circle of relatives, pals, and I have just celebrated my 73rd birthday. That variety, seventy-three, made me forestall and consider the passage of time. How can I be 73 when I was once 23? Of course, the dominant concept and answer are the reality that time moves on necessarily. Indeed, it does. That begs the following query, what is existence all approximately? What is the which means of lifestyles? In this case, that could be a question every person attempts to answer.
Irwin Yalom, one of the extraordinary psychiatrists of our time, in an interview for Psychology Today magazine regarding the meaning of lifestyles, stated,
“I suppose all sorts of meanings in existence go beyond yourself. They’re connected to other generations of human beings around us, to our youngsters and our circle of relatives. We’re passing on something of ourselves to others. I feel that’s what makes our lifestyles full of meaning. It’s tough to have that means in a closet, encapsulated by way of nothing. I assume you clearly should enlarge yourself and your life and do what you could for different people.”
People have asked me why I returned to work after having retired—the answer, in all fairness simple. Besides the fact that I discovered retirement profoundly dull, I wanted to return to doing something that usually gave my life meaning. I like being a medical social worker. I like operating with humans in psychotherapy. I like the feeling that I am supporting human beings to discover which means of their lives.
Viktor Frankl, the well-known psychiatrist who survived the awareness camps of Nazi Germany, found out plenty about that means of lifestyles as he watched many die and others survive the camps’ horrors. Writing about the meaning of lifestyles in his ebook, Man’s Search for Meaning, he states:
“This specialty and singleness which distinguishes each person and offers to mean to his existence have a bearing on innovative paintings as a good deal because it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing someone is found out, it lets in the responsibility a person has for his life and its continuance to appear in all its significance. A man who turns into aware of the duty he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will by no means be able to throw away his existence. He is aware of the “why” for his existence and could be able to undergo almost any “how.”
Some of the existentialists of the 20 century believed that lifestyles have no means. Writing about one among his excessive faculty technology teachers, Frankl remembered his asserting to the class:
“Life is nothing greater than a combustion procedure, a method of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and replied, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the that means of lifestyles?”
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Camus, Sartre, and other Existentialists felt a good deal the equal. Like Frankl and Yalom, I’m afraid I have to disagree. My lifestyles are significant because of the obligation I bear to my fellow human beings, along with my own family and buddies. Call it being non-secular, name it being spiritual, name it what you want; however, we should all find the means of existence for ourselves or suffer despair.
Erik Erikson writes about this whilst discussing the Eight Stages of Man in his e-book, “Childhood and Society.”
In the 8th and very last degree of improvement, a man or woman appears back on their existence and assesses their achievements. If there may be a sense of having completed dreams, then lifestyles feel complete. This final touch is what makes existence a success. According to Yalom and Frankl, that success in lifestyles includes other human beings. As John Dunn wrote centuries ago, “no guy is an island.” We engage with and need each other.
Finally, “Because it’s miles vital to our health, we are constantly motivated to are seeking the enjoyment of reason, and which means. It is like food, a regular preference. Like intercourse, it isn’t a longing that can be happy in a “once and for all” way.”