The main purpose of this chapter is to introduce Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy to the twenty-first century, especially to positive psychologists interested in meaning research and applications. Frankl’s radically positive message of re-humanizing psychotherapy is much needed in the current technological culture. More specifically, I explain the basic assumptions of logotherapy and translate them into a testable meaning-seeking model to facilitate meaning research and intervention. This model consists of five hypotheses: (1) The Self-Transcendence Hypothesis: The will to meaning is a spiritual and primary motivation for self-transcendence; thus, it predicts that spiritual pathways (e.g., spiritual care, self-transcendence) will enhance meaning in life and well-being, even when other pathways to well-being are not available. (2) The Ultimate Meaning Hypothesis: It predicts that belief in the intrinsic meaning and value of life, regardless of circumstances, is more functional than alternative global beliefs. It also predicts that belief in ultimate meaning facilitates the discovery of meaning of the moment. (3) The Meaning Mindset Hypothesis: A meaning mindset, as compared to the success mindset, leads to greater meaningfulness, compassion, moral excellence, eudaemonic happiness, and resilience. (4) The Freedom of Will Hypothesis: People who believe in the inherent human capacity for freedom and responsibility, regardless of circumstances, will show higher autonomy and authenticity than those without such beliefs. (5) The Value Hypothesis of Discovering Meaning: Meaning is more likely to be discovered through creative, experiential, and attitudinal values that are motivated by self-transcendence rather than by self-interest. Together, they capture the complexity and centrality of meaning seeking in healing and well-being. In sum, Viktor Frankl emphasizes the need for a radical shift from self-focus to meaning-focus as the most promising way to lift up individuals from the dark pit of despair to a higher ground of flourishing. This chapter outlines the differences between logotherapy and positive psychology and suggests future research to bridge these two parallel fields of study for the benefit of psychology and society.
This chapter describes the Meaningful Living Group as a community-based meaning-centered positive group intervention. This group work is informed by existential positive psychology (EPP; Wong, 2010) and Positive Psychology 2.0 (PP2.0; Wong, 2011). More specifically, it consists of introducing 12 important principles of meaningful living in lay people’s terms to participants in the Meaningful Living Group.
All Emotions are Dualistic in Nature, with Healthy and Unhealthy Sides Every emotion has its upside and downside. PP 2.0 maintains that well-being is based on how we manage the polarities of each emotion to ensure that its experience and expression are appropriate for the person, the relationship, and the cultural norm. Therefore, it would be less adaptive to focus only on positive emotions or experiences and ignore the cancerous elements in one’s life. Like any emotions, there are things in life that we should be ashamed of just as there are things that we should be rightly afraid of. We should all feel ashamed for getting caught cheating or doing things that are against of our standards of decency. Such “healthy shame with its roots in personal conviction, is inherently associated with values and self-evaluation. Understood thus, it is an integral part of wholesome human functioning in the personal, social, and cultural realms” (p. 87). Aquinas even goes further and argues that shame “is an emotion that enhances human flourishing, personally and socially” (p. 91). For Aquinas, shame serves as a virtue that helps us grow spiritually; “shame makes one more sensitive to what threatens virtue, personal goodness, and more importantly, what fosters or undermines our responsiveness in relationships” (p. 92).