You don't need to have cancer to benefit from the exercise of reflecting on what is most meaningful in your life. We are generally too mindless and busy to notice! But it is never too late to stop, take a breath, and reflect on what we love.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Finding Meaning in the Face of Mortality
I recently read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal by Melissa Beck: A New View, After Diagnosis, highlighting a program on "meaning-making" at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for advanced stage cancer patients. The program is based on the seminal work of Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, in which he suggests that people can endure any suffering if they know their life has meaning. Dr. William Breithart, who developed the program known as meaning-centered psychotherapy, explains that through the program participants are guided to "reconnect with many sources of meaning in life -- love, work, history, family relationships, and teaches them that when cancer produces an obstacle in one, they can find in one, they can find meaning in another". Results of a pilot study comparing "meaning-making" groups compared to traditional cancer support groups were encouraging in respect to decreased anxiety and increased spiritual well-being.