One of the prerequisites for finding meaning is the belief that meaning is there to be found.
This is not just a matter of motivation. That is, the belief is not required because otherwise no one would bother to go looking. It’s true that I wouldn’t start looking for golf balls in the grass of a park where no one plays golf. However, when it’s meanings we’re looking for – and not just golf balls – my meaning detector doesn’t work well without the belief that there are meanings around to be discovered. If I didn’t believe that my eyes could perceive the world, then I might not bother to open them; but even if I did, I would be crippled in making sense of the light that would be impinging on them.
On occasions of remarkable “coincidences”, meanings are almost forced upon us, although a stubborn commitment to a nihilistic worldview can always find a way to avoid them. After ten years of being angry at her father, Joan’s heart opens and she realizes her love for him. Although they haven’t communicated all these years, exactly at the moment that her eyes begin to gush with tears of love, the phone rings and it’s her father calling to ask forgiveness. Since we have no clear mechanism to explain the connection between Joan’s feeling and the phone call, we push aside the urge to see a “message” in the juxtaposition, and chalk it up to “coincidence”.
This is why it’s futile to try to provide an undeniable demonstration of the existence of meanings in general or any particular meaning of a certain situation. Although faith is consistent with critical thinking, it opens the door to the knowledge of meaning by allowing attention to the undeniable stirrings of the heart.
The question here for logotherapists is: How can we arouse and increase a client’s faith – not necessarily a religious faith, but a faith in the value of their own intuitive intimations? (Submitted by Aryeh Siegel)