Quora Question: Why do i feel like life doesn't really need me and my existence is a bother to everyone?
The Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl once wrote: “I remember my dilemma in a concentration camp when faced with a man and a woman who were close to suicide; both had told me that they had expected nothing more in life. I asked both my fellow prisoners whether the question was really what we expected from life. Was it not, what life was expecting from us.”
According to Frankl “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering" and that "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
So, begin with the idea that life is expecting something from you. Your existence is not a bother but rather is important. What is life expecting from you? There is something you can do and that you offer to the world that only you can give. Your experience, your love, your actions. What can you create, what can you experience, how can you face suffering? These are the sources of meaning. And, they matter.
The biologist Richard Dawkins has an interesting perspective on this which might help: “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly, those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”
What I mean by sharing that quote with you is that we should all regard our life here as a wonderful opportunity. Out of all of the possible people, you are alive. Don’t waste that opportunity. The Dalai Lama makes a similar point that we should use our fortunate birth as human beings to further our ability to gain enlightenment.
Because this life is the only one we have there is all the more reason to make the most of it. Perhaps you can begin with a simple exercise I encourage my philosophy students to do. Ask yourself these four questions:
What do you want to learn?
What do you want to experience?
What do you want to contribute?
What do you want to leave behind?
Your life can have meaning and purpose and be richly rewarding; to yourself and those you help, love, and befriend.
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator