The Human Struggle
All of us struggle. No matter where you are in life, no matter how rich, how successful or how educated you are, all of us struggle one way or another.
There are many different types of struggle in life. We have the struggle to survive, to put in effort into doing work, though some might be hard and laborious, just to get money for food, we have the struggle to be successful, to put in the effort to do well in school and we have the struggle to love, to put in effort into maintaining a strong relationship that would last, just to name a few.
However, I am sure all of us agree that we hate the struggle. We hate to constantly put in the effort and pushing ourselves through the pain, instead, we prefer a calm and peaceful life. Therefore, some of us struggle to get out of struggle, we work hard to get enough money to live comfortably, we do whatever we can so that we can live a struggle-less life but it is futile. Why? Life would be quite meaningless without the struggle.
Have you ever thought about the meaning of life? Have you ever wondered why do we even exist at all? I’m pretty sure these questions have crossed all of our minds whether we are a theist or an atheist because it is fundamental to understanding our existence. However, is there ever an ultimate meaning for life? In his famous book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, Viktor E. Frankl said that,
“What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of a person’s life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”
This is where the importance of struggle comes in. When we struggle, at that moment in time, we are focused on getting past that pain, to overcome that adversity that we are facing. We understand that it is a temporary phase in our lives and so we work hard in persevering through it. An example would be struggling to overcome the death of a loved one. It is painful at that moment in time and you would feel hopeless but this struggle gives you meaning in life. How? Viktor E. Frankl put it aptly referring to a patient who had lost his wife, “such a suffering (overcoming death of a loved one) has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering – to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.”
Instead of feeling depressed at the loss of a loved one, one could find meaning in it that he had made a sacrifice to put the burden of loss on himself instead of on his loved one. Such is the meaning of sacrifice, he had changed his perspective to find his suffering meaningful.
Suffering and the struggle to overcome it is never a pleasant experience, however, Man should not be concerned with gaining pleasure or to avoid pain but to see a meaning in his life. We need to know that struggling is a part of life and even through struggle can we find meaning.
To end, there is a quote from Viktor E. Frankl’s book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ that I would love to share,
“Ultimately, Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each Man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”