The most important ingredient to a fulfilling life is subjective and can vary from person to person. However, many people find that a sense of purpose or meaning is a crucial ingredient in leading a fulfilling life. This can come from various sources, including personal relationships, work or career, community involvement, spirituality or religion, creative pursuits, and personal growth and development.
The concept of creating meaning in life is often attributed to existentialist philosophers, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche. Sartre famously wrote, "Life has no meaning a priori. It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose." Similarly, Nietzsche wrote about the importance of creating meaning in one's own life, stating, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." These philosophers believed that individuals must create their own meaning in life rather than relying on external sources of meaning, such as religion or societal norms. Their ideas have influenced many people to seek a sense of purpose or meaning through personal growth, creative pursuits, and other endeavors that reflect their unique values and aspirations.
There is also a perspective that suggests that meaning in life is something that is discovered or revealed rather than created. This perspective is often associated with spiritual or mystical traditions, which hold that there is a deeper purpose or meaning to life that can only be revealed through direct experience or inner knowing. From this perspective, living in the present moment and cultivating awareness and inner stillness is essential for accessing the deeper meaning and purpose of life. This perspective suggests that meaning is not something that can be found through external accomplishments or achievements, but rather is a fundamental aspect of our being that can be revealed through inner exploration and contemplation. Ultimately, the search for meaning in life is a deeply personal journey, and different people may find meaning through different approaches and perspectives.
However, Viktor Frankls' "Man's Search for Meaning" also explores this perspective of the spiritual and mystical traditions. It explores the idea that meaning in life is not something that can be created or found, but rather something that must be discovered or revealed through experience. Frankl's approach, known as logotherapy, emphasizes the importance of finding meaning in the present moment, even in the face of adversity and suffering. He suggests that meaning is not something that can be pursued directly, but rather emerges as a result of engaging in activities or pursuits that are personally meaningful or significant. In this sense, Frankl's perspective is similar to that of spiritual and mystical traditions, which also emphasize the importance of living in the present moment and cultivating inner awareness in order to access deeper levels of meaning and purpose in life.