These observations regarding hopelessness/helplessness help us to understand why it is so important to create many life enthusiasms that sustain meaning and purpose in our lives. We can see that the variety of enthusiasms and values to which we can direct energy is unlimited. Name any topic, item, artistic endeavor, etc. and we can find individuals who invest their energy to learn more of it. The spark of meaning is within us if we seek it and nourish it. Our search begins with the awareness that we have the freedom to assume responsibility for making choices. Above the circumstances that would limit our choice-making, we hold the human spirit of creativity. Frankl tells us we can always take a stand; our attitude is ours alone. He who has a why to live can bear most any hardship. Frankl, who had married not long before his entire family was arrested and killed in concentration camps, attributes his resilience to his love and persistent hope to be reunited with his wife, although she did not survive.
Religious leaders and philosophers through the ages have a high degree of consensus about the most powerful sources of resilience: doing service to benefit others. Mature individuals express greater enthusiasm in their acts of giving that those of receiving. Einstein suggests the life of an individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Love is recognized as a powerful source of energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration to a meaningful life.
If love is indeed one of the most important ingredients in resilience, we are wise to learn what we can do to create an abundance of this force. In the next series of strens, please share with me an exploration of what love is and how we create it.