logotherapists do an excellent job of helping a person find a "meaning
of the moment. " You can almost always find something helpful to do
in any situation, something considerate of others. Meaning, in this
sense, is everywhere. How do you find special meaning in every
situation, even boring or stressful ones? Fabry (1988) suggests these
five guideposts for finding meaning wherever you are:
How can I discover more about myself? The more you see
yourself from different angles and in different settings--and the
more honest you are about your feelings--the more meaning
you will see in the world around you.
Can I think of lots of choices I have in this situation? There are
usually many alternatives. The more freedom of choice you
have, the more meaning the situation has for you.
Can I make a unique contribution in this situation? The more
you feel that only you could or would have done what you did,
the more meaning you get out of the situation.
Can I take some responsibility for improving this situation?
Something positive can be done in most situations. The more
responsibly you behave, the more meaningful your life will be.
How can I help others? How can I take care of others' needs,
rather than my own? Self-centeredness--thinking about
yourself--lessens the meaningfulness of a situation; altruism--
thinking about others--increases it.
These questions are designed to help your conscience decide what
to do. A logotherapist focuses on your positive traits, your hopes, your
peak experiences, and any other hint as to what would be meaningful
to you. The idea is to feel good by finding something meaningful to do.
And, meaningful acts, according to Frankl, are not seeking fun, status,
money or power. But, how do you convince yourself to adopt these
new attitudes? It sounds a little feeble just to say by "self-
confrontation" (see chapter 3).
Do you believe that, in general, things will work out pretty well for you
in life? Optimism is your explanatory style--your attributions and, even
more so, your hopeful expectations of the future. Optimism is good for
you! More and more research supports this view (Seligman, 1991,
1995; Scheier & Carver, 1992), but as a society we are becoming
more and more pessimistic. Having hope and expecting positive
outcomes buffer you from the ravages of psychological distress. You
have better mental and physical health. Seligman says success at work
requires ability, motivation, and optimism. If you don't believe you can
do something, you won't try, no matter how talented you are or how
much you hope for success. Underachievers tend to be pessimists,
overachievers optimists. Optimism is related to but different from self-
esteem, self-efficacy, and being happy. Having a hopeless view
(chapter 6) contributes to depression. Because women worry and
ruminate more about their problems than men (men play basketball or