Finding Meaning in Responsiblity

In this second part of a two-part special series I focus on the importance, and process, of finding meaning and purpose in life, as found in the book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Frankl explains how responsibility to oneself and others (and to what life is asking of you) is a vital counterpart to freedom, a concept echoed by many present-day authors, including notable thought leaders like Jordan Peterson and Jocko Wilink. If you only listen to one of these two episodes on Frankl’s book, this is the one to listen to for sure, because we talk and reflect on the second section of the book which is where Frankl goes into detail about the actual process of finding meaning in life.

My 15 year old son Joseph joined me for this second part of the series, and offers his generation’s unique perspective on this issue.

We definitely added a lot of our own thoughts to what Frankl wrote about this topic, so I hope you enjoy as we discuss:

  • Distinctions between Freud, Adler, and Frankl

  • The importance of the pursuit of meaning in general (the will to meaning)

  • How meaning is found in each and every moment

  • What it means to answering life’s questions for each of us - not just challenges, but gifts as well

  • If people aren’t motivated by money and power, then what does motivate them?

  • How smiling more can make you happier

  • Why is that men tend to have more issues with purpose and meaning?

  • What does Peterson mean when he echoes Frankl’s views on how our “rights” are only half of the conversation - what about the responsibilities that come with those rights?

  • What responsibilities might come with our rights as “freedom loving” Americans?

  • What country might gift the US a statue of responsibility?

  • Did Frankl in 1946 predict accurately that technological advancements in AI and robotics would lead to an increase in existential crises from a lack of meaning and purpose?

  • What does it mean when a person in the Christian faith says their purpose is found in God?

  • How spiritual disciplines fit into the daily practice of seeking purpose in faith

  • What does it mean that we find out who we are by discovering who we are not?

  • There’s no one particular abstract meaning of life - it is unique to each person

  • Our invitation for Jocko Wilink to come on the show and change Joseph’s mind

  • The three specific ways Frankl describes as paths to finding meaning

  • What can be done to turn the tide on the lack of responsibility in society - if anything


Episodes are also available on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts!


Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

The TED Talk on smiling Joseph referred to

Herzberg’s 2 factor theory (Motivation/Hygiene) for what truly motivates people

The Statue of Responsibility prototype at UVU in Utah

Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring suite

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Living: An Antidote to Chaos

The 4th Industrial Revolution: A Guardian article about whether a life lived with robots taking over our jobs is really worth living

The authentic manhood program, originally taught by Robert Lewis in 2005, where he described a crisis of masculinity due to an unclear idea of what it means to be a man today (and included rejecting passivity as part of the solution)

Benjamin Franklin’s exhortation to prayer

Jocko Wilink’s Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win

The great movie about the importance of outlook and attitude, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life