Finding Fulfillment: Understanding Life's Meaning Through Existential Choices

Chasing happiness abroad is a tempting adventure, but existential truths are universal. Embrace responsibility and find meaning wherever life takes you. Your journey to fulfillment knows no borders.

Finding Fulfillment: Understanding Life's Meaning Through Existential Choices
Embrace life

Many people believe that if they cannot find happiness at home, they will find it abroad because there, the weather is better, public safety is improved, education and healthcare systems are superior, the political situation is more stable, salaries are higher, and essentially, "the grass is greener." They also think that relationship problems will magically resolve themselves, and suddenly, their child will become more cooperative and perform better in school.

However, as we discussed in a previous article, "No matter where we go, we carry our heart and mind with us." Trying to escape our problems by moving overseas often proves futile as these issues tend to follow us, manifesting in new ways but retaining their core essence.

Therefore, let's approach this topic from a different angle.

Exploring the Essence of Human Existence

The search for the meaning of life is an eternal question that has haunted humanity throughout its history, and it continues to disturb us even when we live in the happiest country on earth. Why is it that people living in affluent societies still feel adrift? Many struggle to find life's meaning, living without structure, overwhelmed by a sense of emptiness where nothing seems to bring significant happiness or joy. Their lives are often marred by sadness, a sense of worthlessness, which can spiral into addiction or depression, accompanied by a sense of despair and guilt, especially when pondering why they feel so miserable despite ostensibly ideal conditions. Or perhaps they no longer believe that it is even possible to find meaning in life. his phenomenon, known as existential frustration, often arises during periods of prosperity and carefree living. Because the welfare state can swiftly meet all basic needs, the quest to find life’s deeper meaning and fulfill personal life purposes becomes the last unmet need.

Existential psychology delves into these issues, probing the essence of human existence and the meaning of life, aiming to help individuals find personal significance in their existence. This implies that meaning is unique to each individual and only becomes significant when it fulfills their inherent desire for purpose. Viktor E. Frankl’s logotherapy, a deeply human-centric psychotherapeutic approach, aids in this quest for meaning, yet it's crucial to acknowledge that there is no definitive answer to what the meaning of life is. According to Frankl, the pursuit of life's meaning surpasses mere survival and ambition, calling for the exercise of free will and responsible decision-making, guided by our conscience to ensure we are heading in the right direction. If we feel guilt after making a decision, it likely means we did not choose the most meaningful option available to us.

Living overseas often intensifies existential questions as individuals face new challenges and opportunities. While it might seem simpler to live without stress or objectives, it is actually the pursuit of goals that brings fulfillment. Therefore, the essence of life is not found in achieving grand ambitions, but rather in how we handle daily challenges and find significance in each moment.

The Personal Evolution of Meaning

The meaning of life is deeply personal and can change over time. Instead of seeking a universal life purpose, we should focus on the specific value that one realizes in their life at any given moment. Fulfilling personal goals demands a high degree of commitment and involves seizing the unique opportunities that life presents.

Taking Responsibility: It's essential to acknowledge that I am responsible for my own life and no one else. I always have the choice to live according to my own values or try to meet the expectations of others—whether from society, family, or friends.

Awareness: Setting meaningful life goals and keeping them in mind daily is crucial. I can either go through my days just trying to 'get through it,' or I can choose to live in the moment and discover the meaning of life in even the smallest details, like enjoying my son's joyful face while we sit on a bus.

Free Will: We are constantly faced with decisions that can alter ourselves and our surroundings, thus creating new possibilities. Our future is shaped by our choices; the decisions made yesterday led to today, and those we make today will shape our future. This process requires the crucial elements of responsibility and awareness.

Searching for Meaning: Understanding how to live with our potential values is vital. These include:

  • Experiential Values: Gained through love or affection, it’s important to reflect on the insights from each personal experience. We should consider the narratives we attach to these experiences and ensure we integrate them fully. If there's negativity, we should look for the positives. If something positive occurs, we should recognize our efforts and the sacrifices we made to achieve it.
  • Performance and Creative Values: These are the values we create through our work, art, or any creative endeavor. We should focus on finding meaning both in the creation process and in the outcomes. For instance, cooking a meal for the family after a challenging day can be very fulfilling, ensuring everyone goes to bed well-fed and content.
  • Attitudinal Values: These emerge in how we respond to unchangeable situations, often leading to suffering due to our inability to alter them. The simplest response might be acceptance. Choosing the most sensible response in the moment is crucial, such as dealing with the loss of a spouse. Though we cannot escape suffering, we can decide how to face it and possibly find deeper meaning in it. Suffering can build strength, enhance our sense of responsibility, and develop skills we wouldn't otherwise acquire. When faced with unchangeable circumstances, life compels us to change ourselves and find new perspectives on suffering.

This approach demands recognition that each person must fulfill their own unique goals with commitment and purpose, seizing the opportunities that life abroad presents. Whether through love, creative endeavors, or overcoming adversity, every experience offers a chance to find meaning. By embracing the roles destined for us, guided by the potential meaning of our lives, we navigate the challenges of living abroad more effectively, enriching our experiences and finding profound satisfaction in the journey.

Embracing Existential Responsibility

A fundamental challenge of existentialism is grappling with the finite nature of life and the inevitability of death, which could arrive at any moment. This realization can trigger anxiety, yet it can be mitigated by making a conscious decision to embrace life. This involves taking responsibility for one's choices and committing to personal goals and values. Existential guilt often accompanies this process, surfacing when we acknowledge our failure to seize every opportunity in life. This guilt is particularly acute when we have the freedom to make changes, such as leaving a troublesome job or exiting an unhealthy relationship, but choose not to. Since it's impossible to pursue every path (as one choice precludes others), this sense of regret is somewhat unavoidable.

The quest to find life's meaning is not a destination to be reached at life’s end, but a continuous journey found within each moment and decision. Our lives are ultimately shaped by a succession of these meaningful experiences, creating a cohesive narrative. Therefore, the essence of life lies not in attaining monumental goals but in how we navigate our daily lives, making each day count towards a meaningful existence.

So remember, rather than viewing relocation as a solution, you should see it as an opportunity to shift your perspective, leveraging the unique challenges and opportunities that life abroad offers. This approach helps you weave a meaningful existence, deeply engaged with the world around you and mindful of the roles you are destined to play. Living abroad is not just about adapting to a new country; it's about embracing the journey to find your place within it, making every day count toward a fulfilling life.