Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Self-actualization vs Self-transcendence

 

The pursuit of happiness undermines happiness - Viktor Frankl Quotes - StatusMind.com

Victor Frankl was a Jewish psychologist who somehow managed to survive the Nazi Holocaust. He is an impressive figure and below is a quote from his book,

I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. –Victor Frankl

Martin Luther referred to G-d’s grace as being able to free man from the prison of the self. Theodore Dalrymple discusses people as being imprisoned in the eternal endless now. King Solomon mentioned that seeking a life of pleasure and wealth was ultimately vanity and vexation of spirit. This has been going on for along time.

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There are 49 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Henry Castaigne: In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. –Victor Frankl

    I so admire Frankl, Henry. And this last sentence you quoted sums up my own beliefs. We have to reach out to others, interact with and help others. That’s when are most likely to realize our best selves.

    Thanks.

    • #1
    • July 23, 2019, at 9:44 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Henry Castaigne: This has been going on for along time.

    That is certain.

    Henry Castaigne: Theodore Dalrymple discusses people as being imprisoned in the eternal endless now.

    People usually imprison themselves in their past wrongs or future worries. Those are the real prisons.

    • #2
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Bob Thompson Member

    This kind of stuff gets a little deep sometimes. I was married fifty-three years ago and that was the start of a long period of self-actualization, or happiness, for me. I now have my wife, three children, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, two grandsons-in-law, and now one great-grandson. Almost all the considerations of my daily existence involve these people in some way. That’s a lot of self-actualization. Much of that consideration that results in generalized effort on my part will benefit others as well. I still think of that as self-actualization. Don’t know how this works in the next kingdom but it’s probably even better than here.

    • #3
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:24 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. Bob Thompson Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: This has been going on for along time.

    That is certain.

    Henry Castaigne: Theodore Dalrymple discusses people as being imprisoned in the eternal endless now.

    People usually imprison themselves in their past wrongs or future worries. Those are the real prisons.

    I really try to avoid regrets and fear because those would interfere with my happiness.

    • #4
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:34 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    This kind of stuff gets a little deep sometimes. I was married fifty-three years ago and that was the start of a long period of self-actualization, or happiness, for me. I now have my wife, three children, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, two grandsons-in-law, and now one great-grandson. Almost all the considerations of my daily existence involve these people in some way. That’s a lot of self-actualization. Much of that consideration that results in generalized effort on my part will benefit others as well. I still think of that as self-actualization. Don’t know how this works in the next kingdom but it’s probably even better than here.

    @bobthompson, I wanted to suggest that there’s a reason Frankl made the distinction. Wanting to be most fully actualized is not necessarily a bad thing. But if we only focus on ourselves, we become insular and self-obsessed. The idea of self-transcendence (I think) is going beyond yourself, which includes your self-actualization. From reading your comments here and in the past, I think you are working on both. And that’s a very good thing!

    • #5
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    It seems to me that Frankl is using the modern colloquial meaning of the word “happiness”, meaning an emotion roughly equivalent to “joy”. That is not the way Thomas Jefferson, who had a classical education with lots of Latin and Greek, understood the word when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

    The classical meaning of the word “happiness” meant “good fortune” or “prosperity”. The root word, “hap“, is from Middle English, Old Norse, and Proto-Germanic, meaning “luck” or “chance”. Consider some other words that derive from “hap”, such as “hapless”, “haphazard”, “mishap”, and “happenstance”.

    Jefferson was declaring that everybody has the right to create their own luck, to seek their own fortune, to be free from authorities who seek to limit how much they can achieve in their own lives.

    Jefferson was saying that government has no authority to regulate how an individual defines “good fortune”. All individuals are free from government interference to provide for themselves (as long as they don’t infringe on the right of other individuals to do the same).

    This does not preclude the possibility of individuals employing strategies of community-building, service to others, and/or faith in powers greater than themselves, to achieve their goals.

    Frankl’s maxim would be more accurate if he’d said that, “the pursuit of individual independence undermines happiness.” After all, good fortune always requires cooperation with others to some degree or another. Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc. One need only look to the cautionary example of Christopher McCandless to see what happens when one goes too far trying to minimize one’s dependence on others (and even he depended on the labour of others, since he didn’t manufacture the equipment he took with him, or grow the rice that kept him alive for his final months, etc.).

    All IMHO, of course. Maybe I’m being too hard on Frankl.

    • #6
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:39 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    It seems to me that Frankl is using the modern colloquial meaning of the word “happiness”, meaning an emotion roughly equivalent to “joy”. That is not the way Thomas Jefferson, who had a classical education with lots of Latin and Greek, understood the word when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

    The classical meaning of the word “happiness” meant “good fortune” or “prosperity”. The root word, “hap“, is from Middle English, Old Norse, and Proto-Germanic, meaning “luck” or “chance”. Consider some other words that derive from “hap”, such as “hapless”, “haphazard”, “mishap”, and “happenstance”.

    Jefferson was declaring that everybody has the right to create their own luck, to seek their own fortune, to be free from authorities who seek to limit how much they can achieve in their own lives.

    Jefferson was saying that government has no authority to regulate how an individual defines “good fortune”. All individuals are free from government interference to provide for themselves (as long as they don’t infringe on the right of other individuals to do the same).

    This does not preclude the possibility of individuals employing strategies of community-building, service to others, and/or faith in powers greater than themselves, to achieve their goals.

    Frankl’s maxim would be more accurate if he’d said that, “the pursuit of individual independence undermines happiness.” After all, good fortune always requires cooperation with others to some degree or another. Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc. One need only look to the cautionary example of Christopher McCandless to see what happens when one goes too far trying to minimize one’s dependence on others (and even he depended on the labour of others, since he didn’t manufacture the equipment he took with him, or grow the rice that kept him alive for his final months, etc.).

    All IMHO, of course. Maybe I’m being too hard on Frankl.

    Um, Mis, did Frankl use the word happiness? I can’t find it. I think what you’ve described aligns with what he said–IMHO.

    • #7
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Bob Thompson Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

     

    • #8
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:51 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Bob Thompson Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Jefferson was saying that government has no authority to regulate how an individual defines “good fortune”. All individuals are free from government interference to provide for themselves (as long as they don’t infringe on the right of other individuals to do the same).

     

    And one must remember property rights come into to play here. The Left may not always say there is some ‘good fortune’ you cannot have, but they may take some fruits of your work and give to others.

    • #9
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:55 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Arahant Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I really try to avoid regrets and fear because those would interfere with my happiness.

    Exactly.

    • #10
    • July 23, 2019, at 10:56 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Bob Thompson Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I so admire Frankl, Henry. And this last sentence you quoted sums up my own beliefs. We have to reach out to others, interact with and help others. That’s when are most likely to realize our best selves.

     

    I recall starting to read some of his work but, IIRC, did not find it uplifting and did not finish.

    • #11
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:01 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I so admire Frankl, Henry. And this last sentence you quoted sums up my own beliefs. We have to reach out to others, interact with and help others. That’s when are most likely to realize our best selves.

     

    I recall starting to read some of his work but, IIRC, did not find it uplifting and did not finish.

    I think anytime we choose to read anything about the concentration camps, it can be very difficult. Elie Wiesel’s Night was very difficult for me. What I liked about Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning was that those who felt that they were not finished with their life’s work lived; those who thought they had nothing to live for, died. We all have the choice to choose our way. I’m not saying you should read his work, but I found it inspiring.

    • #12
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:11 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Um, Mis, did Frankl use the word happiness? I can’t find it. I think what you’ve described aligns with what he said–IMHO.

    The quote in the OP is literally, “the pursuit of happiness undermines happiness.”

    • #13
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:13 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Um, Mis, did Frankl use the word happiness? I can’t find it. I think what you’ve described aligns with what he said–IMHO.

    The quote in the OP is literally, “the pursuit of happiness undermines happiness.”

    Oops. My bad.

    • #14
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:15 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    • #15
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:18 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Bob Thompson Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    I’m not arguing with you, but ‘help’ can be interpreted more readily to involve dependence where ‘interaction’, I think, conveys choice, as in ‘trade’. It’s just a preference of mine engendered by ‘interaction’ with ‘socialists’, who like ‘help’, meaning ‘dependence’.

    • #16
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:35 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    I’m not arguing with you, but ‘help’ can be interpreted more readily to involve dependence where ‘interaction’, I think, conveys choice, as in ‘trade’. It’s just a preference of mine engendered by ‘interaction’ with ‘socialists’, who like ‘help’, meaning ‘dependence’.

    But trade does involve dependence. If I need something to survive and I cannot acquire it by myself, I depend on trade to acquire that thing. The point is that dependence does not equal subjection.

    • #17
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:52 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Bob Thompson Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    I’m not arguing with you, but ‘help’ can be interpreted more readily to involve dependence where ‘interaction’, I think, conveys choice, as in ‘trade’. It’s just a preference of mine engendered by ‘interaction’ with ‘socialists’, who like ‘help’, meaning ‘dependence’.

    But trade does involve dependence. If I need something to survive and I cannot acquire it by myself, I depend on trade to acquire that thing. The point is that dependence does not equal subjection.

    Unless you are a socialist.

    • #18
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:54 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. Bob Thompson Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I so admire Frankl, Henry. And this last sentence you quoted sums up my own beliefs. We have to reach out to others, interact with and help others. That’s when are most likely to realize our best selves.

     

    I recall starting to read some of his work but, IIRC, did not find it uplifting and did not finish.

    I think anytime we choose to read anything about the concentration camps, it can be very difficult. Elie Wiesel’s Night was very difficult for me. What I liked about Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning was that those who felt that they were not finished with their life’s work lived; those who thought they had nothing to live for, died. We all have the choice to choose our way. I’m not saying you should read his work, but I found it inspiring.

    Yes, it slipped my mind that his work was largely influenced by that really bad experience and it is so sad today to see people use terms from that experience so casually. 

    • #19
    • July 23, 2019, at 11:58 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Arahant Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    Unless you are a socialist.

    Well, he is a Canadian.

    • #20
    • July 23, 2019, at 12:41 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    I’m not arguing with you, but ‘help’ can be interpreted more readily to involve dependence where ‘interaction’, I think, conveys choice, as in ‘trade’. It’s just a preference of mine engendered by ‘interaction’ with ‘socialists’, who like ‘help’, meaning ‘dependence’.

    But trade does involve dependence. If I need something to survive and I cannot acquire it by myself, I depend on trade to acquire that thing. The point is that dependence does not equal subjection.

    Unless you are a socialist.

    Indeed! I think one way to define liberty could be, “the freedom to choose on whom one depends.”

    Frankl seems to equate the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of individual autarky, which is where I’m having difficulty with his maxim since I don’t see the two concepts being remotely equivalent.

    • #21
    • July 23, 2019, at 12:44 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Vectorman Thatcher

    Care to discuss the meaning of happiness used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence? Would you like to learn a new word like autarky

    You too can can join the Quote of the Day series, which is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many dates open on the August Signup Sheet. Can’t wait that long? We still have 2 days available on the July Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #22
    • July 23, 2019, at 1:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Jefferson was saying that government has no authority to regulate how an individual defines “good fortune”. All individuals are free from government interference to provide for themselves (as long as they don’t infringe on the right of other individuals to do the same).

     

    And one must remember property rights come into to play here. The Left may not always say there is some ‘good fortune’ you cannot have, but they may take some fruits of your work and give to others.

    Indeed. “You can keep all the good fortune we don’t take from you,” is kinda Feudalist. 

    • #23
    • July 23, 2019, at 4:38 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    You are correct, but ‘help’ is somewhat freighted with the idea of aiding others as a public good, as opposed to a free exchange. 

    • #24
    • July 23, 2019, at 4:41 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    There is a post, https://ricochet.com/655199/quote-of-the-day-a-god-you-understood/, where people are discussing the attempt to encompass the ineffable; it is doomed to failure, but self-improvement is attained in the effort. 

    It is just possible that a search within could produce much the same thing, but I have my doubts. 

    In any case, disdaining ‘the world’ seems like a trap. 

    • #25
    • July 23, 2019, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Even the most rugged of individualists cannot survive without some help from others, whether through trade, or education, or mutual fellowship, etc.

    I would prefer ‘interaction’ where you use ‘help’.

    There’s nothing in the word ‘help’ that requires that the assistance be altruistic or without reward.

    If I buy something from you, I’ve helped you by providing you with money and you’ve helped me by providing me with a good I desire. If I take a job I help my employer by providing my labour/expertise and my employer helps me by providing me with a wage. When the Amish help each other build a house or a barn, it’s with the expectation that they will receive help in return. Etc. Etc.

    You are correct, but ‘help’ is somewhat freighted with the idea of aiding others as a public good, as opposed to a free exchange.

    a) Hey, it’s not my fault if people don’t understand what words mean.

    b) And that’s why it’s so hard to find good help these days.

    ;-)

    • #26
    • July 23, 2019, at 4:54 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    Unless you are a socialist.

    Well, he is a Canadian.

    Why can’t Canadians be more like Wolverine. 

     

    Joe Quesada

    He isn't sorry.

    • #27
    • July 23, 2019, at 6:21 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  28. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    a) Hey, it’s not my fault if people don’t understand what words mean.

    b) And that’s why it’s so hard to find good help these days.

    ;-)

    John Wayne Responsible Quote Refrigerator / Tool Box Magnet Man Cave Room

    • #28
    • July 23, 2019, at 6:27 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    People usually imprison themselves in their past wrongs or future worries. Those are the real prisons.

    There are prisons to go around. This is a larger quotation of an article by Theodore Dalrymple about the bad effects of poor education

    The name Stalin means nothing to these young people and does not even evoke the faint ringing of a bell, as the name Shakespeare (sometimes) does. To them, 1066 is more likely to mean a price than a date.

    Thus are the young condemned to live in an eternal present, a present which merely exists, without connection to a past which might explain it or to a future which might develop from it. Theirs is truly a life of one damned thing after another. Likewise, they are deprived of any reasonable standards of comparison by which to judge their woes. They believe themselves deprived, because the only people with whom they can compare themselves are those who appear in advertisements or on television.

    • #29
    • July 23, 2019, at 6:50 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  30. Arahant Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    There are prisons to go around. This is a larger quotation of an article by Theodore Dalrymple about the bad effects of poor education

    In that context, it makes much more sense. Thank you.

    • #30
    • July 23, 2019, at 9:39 PM PST
    • 3 likes