13 reasons to live

Based on the series “13 Reasons Why”, Psychologist presents a favorable reflection on life

Elison Santos*

13 reasons to live

In his work that became one of the ten most influential books in US history, ‘In Search of Meaning – A Psychologist in a Concentration Camp’, Viktor Frankl recounts situations that occurred during his three years as a prisoner during the Second World War. The tone of all his work, begun before the war and largely developed during more than five decades after the war, is the categorical affirmation that life has meaning, no matter under what circumstances, life always has meaning. But how do you find the meaning of life, especially when everything seems to be wrong, when there seems to be no way out of problems, when anguish seems to be greater than the will to live?

While the Netflix series ’13 reasons why’ offers us a reflection on the reasons that can lead someone to take their own life, I propose here some reasons to face the idea of ​​death:

1 – For someone – In some situations in the concentration camp Frankl came across people who wanted to commit suicide, some he was able to help, proposing to them this reflection, whether there was someone for whom it was worth enduring the suffering of the concentration camp until the end. end and maintain the hope of perhaps one day meeting this or that person again. This reflection made many people stop wanting to die and start enduring the suffering of being alive under those circumstances, for someone.

2 – A task – Other people in the concentration camp had promised themselves to finish a task, a book they had started before the war, a work they had promised themselves they would accomplish during their lifetime and for this or that task, for this or that commitment to oneself, it would be worth enduring the suffering and leaving open the possibility of surviving in a post-war period.

3 – Love – In addition to thinking about the good of another person, when you have someone to love, you yourself live an experience of great proportions. Frankl reports that often, at the end of a day, still working under the biting cold, physical weakness, hunger and humiliation, he would think about his wife, about the happy moments he spent at her side and this helped him to bear the suffering .

4 – Intelligence – While we are alive we are constantly challenged by our existence. Our mind is helping us find ways out of problems and that is why we are able to endure suffering. It is a fact that there are always ways out. Hence the categorical statement that life has meaning. Therefore, if we are not finding a way out, it is because our intelligence is, in some way, mistaken, some very strong emotion can prevent us from finding and perceiving the many possibilities for a way out of that problem.

5 – Humor – Frankl reports that once they were sent to a barracks and had to take off their clothes, it was a different place, they knew that many prisoners were sent to places like that and were executed with lethal gases. They went in there and found many showers, they were literally scared to death that gases would come out of those pipes that would kill them, when suddenly water came out and many of them started laughing a lot because instead of being killed, they were just taken to drink bath. Even in the face of the worst situations in our lives, even in the face of the most bitter suffering anyone can experience, it is still possible to find a second of good humor and humor opens windows in our mind, expanding our field of vision, helping our intelligence to find solutions to problems.

5 – Art – One of the ways to help the mind endure suffering is to see reality from another perspective. In art, the person is invited to stand on the edge of cold reality in order to see with different eyes. Frankl tells us about a specifically human capacity that is self-transcendence, we can move away from raw reality and find a higher meaning. A drawing, a painting, a song, a poem, something I can express physically or something I can just imagine in my mind. A reality that helps me endure suffering, for example, the character Guido in the film ‘Life is Beautiful’ develops a story so that his son can endure the terrors of war.

6 – Resilience – Enduring suffering and pain is a capacity present in all human beings. Since birth, we experience pain and discomfort that are part of the processes of physical growth and psychosocial development. The greater our ability to withstand discomfort, the greater our possibility of development. Frankl could have committed suicide himself in the concentration camp, but he chose resilience and turned this terrible experience of pain, humiliation and deprivation into a work with more than thirty books published and dozens of honorary titles from the most renowned universities in the world. world.

7 – Charity – A statement from Rabbi Hillel can help us reflect on this reason: “If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I’m just for myself, who will I be? If not now, when?” Reflecting on the meaning of life also means thinking about the people around me. Faced with the question: ‘what am I?’, it is proposed that I am someone connected to a family, with ties of blood and friendship, and even though I have no friends or relatives, ultimately the only person responsible by myself. In this way, I can appeal to my conscience to be charitable towards myself, offering me the possibility of continuing to live. And, even if we are not sure of the future, we are sure of the now, ‘if not now, when?’, because if I don’t make the decision to live now and save myself from death, when will I be able to do so?

8 – Curiosity – Although the idea of ​​knowing what is on the other side of death may seem seductive, there is no proof of what can exist, not even if there is something, on the other hand, there is certainty about life , as it is being experienced in some way, even in suffering. From experience, we also know that time passes, and with time new possibilities emerge. I can take on the challenge that there are millions of possibilities that will visit me tomorrow, why not wait and see what happens? The price for seeing the next day is just the patience to live today. In the perspective of many years that may come after tomorrow, the value of a day may be very little.

9 – Vanity – Vanity can be seen as something negative, but it is also related to the possibility of defending our lives. And if it can challenge my conscience so that I don’t take my own life, then vanity can be my friend. I can, for example, ask myself what others will think of me if I commit suicide, I will certainly encounter many who will have a very negative view of me. It is true that, for the person who comes close to thinking about the possibility of dying, vanity may not be something they care about, but it is still a good question for some. My story may be negatively tarnished, so it may be worth continuing to live to try to build a story that actually brings pride to the people who know me.

10 – Faith – Not everyone has a religion, but every human being has the capacity to have faith. Even the most atheist of atheists may struggle with their ability to believe in the infinite possibilities of the universe. Even though for some there is not sufficient proof that God exists, for everyone there is no sufficient proof that He does not exist. In this way, we all have the possibility of having faith. Frankl didn’t know the war would end, no one knew, he didn’t know if he would come out of the war alive, but somehow, he believed. There are many reports from the Second World War of groups that met to pray, to carry out their religious experiences in community. There is research in the field of psychology and psychiatry that proves, for example, that people who have a religious belief tend to overcome an illness or addiction more easily than those who do not.

11 – My mirror – A person can reach a point in their life where they no longer like themselves, where they no longer like their body, their appearance, the people around them, their home, the things they have, but if There’s something you can’t escape, it’s your own conscience. Looking in the mirror does not mean seeking a narcissistic analysis of the beautiful things that you think everyone should have, but rather looking into your own eyes, facing the truth in your gaze. When you look at yourself, try to say honestly what you intend to do with the dreams, the plans, the experiences, the stories you lived. Looking in the mirror is allowing yourself to appreciate everything that has been built so far and to value this work called life.

12 – My future – I’m not sure of my future, but I can project myself. The 12th reason to live is found in a sincere dialogue with a person called ‘my future’, she has my name, and is at least 10 years older than me. In my case, I’m 39, I want to talk to my 80-year-old self. After looking in the mirror and seeing my eyes now, I want to look at the eyes of the 80-year-old man. He will look at me and tell me what I did right and what I did wrong. I’m giving him the opportunity to tell me what’s wrong at the current moment, he went through it, he lived that moment and after some time he understood well the reasons for the suffering I’m experiencing. I look into the eyes of this 80-year-old man and I can’t think of anything other than the desire to find him safe and sound in 41 years. I love this man and I want to be able to hug him one day. I will do everything to make sure I find you well.

13 – My mission – There is no one like me, since my biology classes in elementary school I know that of the more than 7 billion inhabitants of the earth, no one has fingerprints like mine, no one has DNA like mine. For some reason I was born in this time in history and in this space in the universe, my existence has a meaning. Just as countless living beings exist for a reason, for a purpose, I certainly have mine, logic, history and science prove this to me. My life has a meaning and it is unique. I reached this moment perhaps because many circumstances led me to think that my life was not important, that my story didn’t make a difference, but from the day I was conceived I began to change the world around me, my mother’s life. mother has changed, from my father, from my family, from the people who knew me when I was just a baby and from the colleagues and friends I’ve made all these years, even if they don’t like me, I represent something to them, my life has made difference until now, even though I didn’t know what I wanted, even though I didn’t understand the value of my life, even at times when I was thinking only about myself, in some way, directly or…

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