Happiness is a concept that has never been fully understood how one achieves happiness is something that humans have been wanting to know from the beginning. During World War II, the Holocaust was one of the most devastating events occurred, which left people to question what happiness is and the meaning of life.
Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist from Vienna, he is one of the key figures in existential therapy. Viktor Frankl detailed his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, which hugely inspired his work and the development of logotherapy. While Frankl was in concentration camps, he observed that some people are psychologically healthier than others. They were able to survive the harsh experience and found a few meaning from it. The reason was they didn’t surrender to their harsh environment. Instead, they chose to have an internal battle with themselves and chose happiness over oppression. Today, various people are using theories such as Frankl’s to find happiness. In Chennai, India, an upcoming modern school turns traditional education that prioritizes knowledge into teaching children how to be happy.
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The ideas that were expressed by the school’s founder are not aligned with Frankl’s theory towards the path to meaning because the founders want to focus on controlling the children’s happiness through their environment. Life offers people purpose and meaning. According to Frankl, life’s meaning can be discovered in three different ways: by creating a work or accomplishing some task, by experiencing something fully or loving somebody, and by the attitude that one adopts toward unavoidable suffering (111). If Frankl saw the children that are living in Chennai, India and their way of life, he would state that one must accept and adapt to their way of life. He wouldn’t agree with the idea of creating a “happy” school. He would assert that the children need to find happiness in their current situations and create reasons in their heads to be happy. Frankl’s theory is all about accepting where you stand. Considering that the entrepreneurs in India want to create a happier environment because they believe that the kids are not happy with their current environment.
Frankl explains that many prisoners became unresponsive about their lives just a few days after arriving at a concentration camp. They quickly grew accustomed to the brutality that beset them, and they knew their chances of surviving was limited, so they basically just gave up. He himself succeeded to avoid the apathy, by constantly looking for ways to make his experience meaningful.
Frankl believed that suffering is a part of life and that a man’s ultimate freedom is his ability to choose how to respond to given circumstances, even the most painful ones. For example, Frankl’s colleague who did their best to stay alive in the hopes of seeing their loved ones again or who thought of their suffering as a test of faith lived longer than those who lost their ability to see the meaning in life. He describes in detail the injustices he and his fellow capos were made to endure in Nazi concentration camps, in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, from walking miles through the snow with broken shoes, almost bare feet, to being made to ride in train carts surrounded by their own excrement. Most people gave up in the face of this suffering, but those who were able to make their suffering seem meaningful were able to endure their pain more strongly. Frankl was careful to point out that suffering should not be sought out on purpose, as meaning can also be found through love and work. When one must suffer, the best way to survive is by holding on to hope and trying to make oneself worthy of one’s very experience of suffering.
Frankl’s book asserts that happiness begins from within. People don’t need to depend on what is around them or what is occurring in their life to create happiness. “How we deal with our inner world drives everything. Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead. The conventional view of emotions as good or bad, positive or negative, is rigid. And rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic. We need greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving” (Davids 00:50).
It relates to emotional stability and being able to control a person’s way of thinking and emotions or feelings is needed towards creating their own inner happy place. In the same way with Esfahani’s Ted Talk, she mentioned that many psychologists define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, feeling good in the moment (01:42). Logotherapy is based on the assumption that humans are driven to find a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Many people believe that the path to happiness is success, but it really doesn’t exactly contribute to the fulfillment of happiness. Success is something, and happiness is another thing.
To succeed is to live physically, while to be happy is to live spiritually. In addition, Adele Peters article, “This School Focuses on Teaching Students Happiness, Not Math”, she states that “people pursue college and successful careers because, ultimately, they want to be happy, and it might make sense to focus more directly on that end goal” (para 12). However, not all people go to college to pursue happiness, some people go to colleges just to get their degrees to earn more money and to be more successful. They sacrifice things that make them happy and tuck it into a corner and chose success instead. Yes, money does make people happy, but eventually, in the long run, people need more than success to become happy and fulfilled. Going back to Frankl’s second way to discover the meaning of life, people need feelings and love surrounding them to find their inner peace. Money can only buy materialistic things. It can build the environment and what is around people, but money can never build what is within an individual.
No one can control a person’s inner peace, only that person can do that. The fact that the founders see successfulness as the end goal and compare it with happiness is a problem. This will not help change the societal structure, and how education and a great job means that a person will be happy. One should understand that even if they turn out to get a low paying job, a person can still be happy. Their future career is a huge part of their life; however, it’s not going to be their whole life. Thus, whatever they turn out to be shouldn’t indicate whether or not they are happy. The mistake an individual can do is assuming that success or achievement alone will bring happiness to a person. Happiness is not a luxury, but rather it is the nature of living.
Whenever a basis of joy is missing, life has no significance. Having a bunch of material things is not the key to a person’s true happiness. An individual should learn to appreciate the things they have and finding joy in the simplest things in life that gives a person pleasure. A long-lasting happiness comes from positive relationships, life experiences, and feelings of purpose.
It does require a bit of effort, suffering and sacrificing to achieve a positive outlook on life; unfortunately, many people don’t understand it. It takes a lot of practice and patience to stop the habit of complaining about how terrible life is. Possessing a positive manner is the best way to accomplish a person’s goals. It fuels success, not the other way around.
When a person is positive, their brains become more involved, artistic, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. Happiness will always be the key and will lead you to a successful life.