One of my favourite books of all time is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Dr. Frankl, who founded the clinical psychological technique called logotherapy, was a resident at the Nazi-German's concentration camps during World War II. In the first part of the book, Dr. Frankl wrote about his observation of how some of his fellow inmates were able to withstand all the sufferrings while some others quite simply gave up, refused to try, and eventually die. Those who survived, according to Dr. Frankl, had one thing in common - they all had reasons to live and those reasons kept them alive no matter what.
In the second part of his book, Dr. Frankl explains what he believes to be a modern phenomenon - the existential vacuum. Dr. Frankl believes the reason why many people today are stressful and depressed is because they do not have a reason to live. Today, there are many who live their lives based on hedonistic principles where everyday is just like any other day to maximise pleasure and minimise stress. Not much thought is given on how one may contribute to more profound goals in live, and on how to carry one's responsiblities beyond the essential and necessary.
We are servants of God, children of our parents, parents to our children, members of our organisations etc. All these ought to give us many reasons to live to fill-up the existential vacuum which Dr. Frankl had explained.
Perhaps Dr. Frankl wasn't quite right to say that there is a vacuum. The reasons to live are there and they are part of our existence regardless of whether we know and understand them. Perhaps the real challenge is to be conscious of and internalise the right reasons to live. When a fanatical football fan kills himself when the team he supports loses a championship game, his problem is not that he does not have a reason to live. His problem was having the wrong reason for his existence.
My life today revolves almost entirely around my family. My children especially, are my reasons to live and persevere come whatever may. But sometimes I do wonder, is that a good enough reason to define my existence?
I have read for many years about Tun Dr. Mahathir’s deep resentment and suspicion against Singapore. From his writings in The Early Years t...
(Berikut adalah artikel saya yang diterbitkan di laman web Centre for Policy Initiatives pada 12 Ogos 2010 di bawah tajuk ' Masalah kura...
Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali was born in Tus, Persia in 450 H (1058 AD). During his lifetime, he acquired one of the most distinguished pos...