During a FULFILLMENT seminar, at the University of Arizona for the Affiliated Women's Clubs, a charming and successful woman unintentionally made our point about success, satisfaction and happiness. Catherine Hendricks spoke about several major problems that are caused by living too secular a life-style in this period of swift, destabilizing and often disconcerting change. Catherine lamented;
I'm one woman who did everything well. I stayed out of trouble in school, married the right guy and joined a great company when it started taking women seriously. I've made sound business decisions along the way and shall surely become a V P before I'm forty. I live in a home my parents think a mansion and have two beautiful children. I do a job thousands envy. Obviously, I have everything. Right? Wrong! Much of my life feels incomplete and caught up in trivia. My kids are rebelling with sex and drugs and I'm almost certain my husband is having an affair with a little twerp. I feel deeply dissatisfied at the most inopportune times, as if nothing counts except for my sixty hour work weeks and paying for the house and the Mercedes. There must be more to life than this but when my therapist asks what's missing, I can't even tell her. I worry that I'm going mad to feel this way despite my accomplishments in the company and my prestige in my community. What do I do when I've won everything I've ever wanted and it isn't enough to keep me happy?
What, indeed -- and what of the many persons who fall short of her achievements, who fear life is passing them by, who feel stuck in their careers or frustrated in their relationships? They are not mentally ill but virtually always spiritually maladjusted through secular values, negative attitudes, low expectations, immature beliefs and often irresponsible choices. They are left wondering how they can find consistent satisfaction. Our work answers Catherine's troubling question along with a great many more. Our emphasis is on joyful living through spiritual values (or ethical virtues), positive attitudes, high expectations, mature beliefs and responsible choices. We have learned as Viktor Frankl, Karen Horney, Karl Jung and many others taught, that the unfortunate souls who are suffering from neurotic ailments and existential alienation, are those persons who have failed to find a consistent sense of meaning that assures their satisfaction through life's several stages. We have also learned that few persons are going to simply get lucky and have fulfillment handed to them on a solver platter. Life is filled with many quid-pro-quos in which we must do our part wisely and well to have life become consistently satisfying as a by-product of our responsible choices.
Obviously this means that those persons doing the best they can -- while still feeling stuck in their careers, dissatisfied with their love relationships and anxious that life is passing them by, must learn better ways of managing their existence. Of course, that is what this book is all about!
This approach was first conceived when Jard was psychology professor and convocations chairman at Olivet College. He had Viktor Frankl flown from Vienna to the campus to lecture and counsel about his approach to psychospiritual healing. Viktor had written several outstanding books, including MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING, PSYCHOTHERAPY AND EXISTENTIALISM and THE DOCTOR AND THE SOUL. The Viennese psychiatrist and psychologist called his approach Logotherapy -- which means spirit healing -- for existentially frustrated or spiritually bankrupt souls. Viktor, who spent more than three years in Nazi Germany's brutal death camps, was spiritually transformed by his covenant relationship with God despite the suffering and fear surrounding him, into a virtual saint. Even in that anteroom of hell, with God's help, he found meaning by helping others survive. In our distinctive religious approach to Logotherapy, you shall study crucial presentations and use revealing reality checks, self-focus exercises and powerful projects to consider serving society well, worshipping devoutly, relating warmly, persevering bravely, learning wisely and playing enthusiastically. New insights can lead to spiritual values, positive attitudes, high expectations, mature beliefs and responsible choices that enhance life for persons who apply them wisely.
This approach when piloted some hundred times in business organizations, churches, professional associations and universities, often received a standing ovation from the many participants. The authors won a 3.68 evaluation with it on a one to four scale for years. We have learned, in our presentations that range from hour long church forum lectures, to business seminars, to three day summer college classes, that participants are indeed fascinated with our materials. And while we are not entirely unbiased, we feel this interest is the result of our addressing vital human needs that are seldom considered in commercial seminars or even religious classes -- despite their importance to each human soul. We are dealing in applied Logotherapy -- the healing of the human spirit through a covenant relationship with God the Cosmic Creator.
If you or a loved one faces career, relationship, emotional or spiritual challenges that leave you dissatisfied and feeling stuck in life, worried that life itself is passing you by, that your life is bereft of meaning, this can be the most valuable single experience of your life. It can and will assist anyone seeking consistent fulfillment in many special ways -- that is, helping the reader find satisfying sources of lasting meaning in those places of the heart where he or she belongs.
For a generation we, Jard and Roberta DeVille, have written such psychology books as NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST, LOVERS FOR LIFE, LEADERSHIP PSYCHOLOGY, LEADERSIP POWER (Japanese), LOS BUENOS TAMBIEN GANAN (Spanish), THE PASTOR'S HANDBOOK ON INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WITNESSING and others. One religious denomination, one of the fastest growing church organizations around the world, used our PASTOR'S HANDBOOK and WITNESSING as study guides for many thousands of American and foreign pastors. We feel deeply honored to have taken part in their outstanding ministry. LEADERSHIP PSYCHOLOGY was the lead-off book in the Executive Growth Series offered by New American Library, a major American publishing company. NICE GUYS was an American best seller while LEADERSHIP POWER was extremely useful to executives and managers throughout Japan. Obviously, we are not novices and we believe you can find a great deal of help by studying the materials we offer.
Fortunately, life can become deeply meaningful for loving persons who are maturing, who are meeting the needs of their spiritual unconscious that Frankl wrote about -- which is as vital to satisfaction as our psychological unconscious that Freud discussed. It is this spiritual unconscious that is so often neglected by persons who live with secular values and too pragmatic choices -- which is why we combine the psychological and the philosophical in our books and articles. After all, every society from primitive clans with be-feathered shamans chanting spells around campfires, to building mysterious Stonehenge, to completing towering European cathedrals, and even attending Billy Graham's relational campaigns, has been trying to meet the spiritual yearnings throbbing within every human soul. These hungers are universal and repressing or neglecting them causes spiritual bankruptcy or what Frankl called existential frustration.
We have researched the emotional and spiritual aspects of satisfaction for half a century, drawing from brilliant existential philosophers, theologians and psychologists of whom Soren Kierkegaard, Carl Jung, Karen Horney, Tielhard de Chardin, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein, Paul Tillich, Viktor Frankl, H. Orton Wiley, Laura Perls, Rollo May and Carl Rogers are representative. Wayne Dyer, who remains a contemporary existential seminar leader on Public Television, has an excellent approach for improving spiritual health. We have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt, that fulfillment is never won directly but always the by product of a maturing life-style. We didn't stop with concepts, however, but hammered the issues of life out in the real world, getting down into the mud and blood of existence with people experiencing differing degrees of emotional and spiritual failures. We have also discovered that human existence can indeed be filled with purpose and permanence for perceptive women and men. However, there is a major Catch - 22 in the search for consistent satisfaction. There is nothing automatic or universal about succeeding in our quest. There is no single approach to Fulfillment with a capital F that meets every person's needs. Each one of us has to open personal channels by applying our own powers along lines of excellence. We must move beyond the theoretical to the practical.
Despite the assumptions of so many persons, our search can seldom be for happiness per se. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that will always fade and eventually vanish. We all need times of joy, obviously, but it is far more satisfying to create lasting sources of meaning in our lives -- in those places of the heart where we belong, connected to persons with whom we share love, acceptance and support.
We all hold values, attitudes, expectations and beliefs and make choices that are relevant to our lives. These key aspects of life affect us according to our inherited traits, environmental experiences and formative choices. Naturally, not one of us is exempt from civilization's pressures. All men and women inherit homosapien angst and rage, resist childhood socialization, and struggle to break the apron strings during adolescence and to remove emotional scar tissue in the unconscious aspects of our minds. We are indeed forced to deal with the tragic elements of suffering, guilt, rage and death. It doesn't end there, fortunately. We are pleased to report that despite many existential frustrations, spiritually-minded persons who convert their earthly meanderings into purposeful, love-filled quests can enjoy consistent fulfillment. Women and men who cultivate faith, hope and love do find joy even as waves of complex change batter society relentlessly.
We recently had this approach confirmed by an unlikely source in an entirely unexpected setting. The carnival barker on the Minnesota State Fair Midway didn't look like a philosopher. His fingernails were ragged and dirty and a broken tooth gave him a cynical and somewhat sinister leer. Tough-Tony Gallo seemed too rough-hewn a man from whom to learn much about a meaningful life. Nevertheless, Tony went right to a major aspect of fulfillment when he said;
Life's sorta like ridin' a bicycle uphill. Ya gotta keep pedalin' along or ya gotta stop and get off. There ain't no reverse gear and ya gotta keep yer balance.
How marvelously well expressed! There you have it -- much knowledge and wisdom in a nutshell! Tough Tony had just relieved Jard of six dollars in a futile attempt to win a stuffed panda for a granddaughter at his milk bottle-toss game. Neither Jard's arm nor his aim is what either was in his youth but he was delighted with the transaction. After all, in these days of expensive therapy, that was a bargain price for such excellent counsel about living successfully. As our philosophical friend with dirty nails so succinctly said, a satisfying life has an ongoing flow that must be embraced if we are to find consistent meaning and belonging with the powers God through nature has given us to invest in spiritual growth. To sum this up even more succinctly than Tony did, we use this simple equation;
PERSONAL FULFILLMENT = f (Heredity x Environment x Choices)
Everything we inherit from all of our ancestors is acted on by our environment whether it is good or bad. And that product is multiplied by the excellent, mediocre or disastrous choices we make about life and our place in it.
Through these articles, we use the word existential to mean that something relates to the cultural and personal life-style humans choose to follow or have thrust upon them by society. It has nothing to do with the grim European philosophy of Existentialism taught by Sartre, Camus and others in the desperate decades of the World Wars, the murderous Holocaust and the long, debilitating Cold War. To us, existential just means that something being discussed is related to the life-style we follow.
Author* Jard DeVille has published more than a score of psychology books, seminars and psychological assessment instruments. His book NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST was a powerful best seller in English, Japanese and Spanish editions. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LEADERSHIP was New American Library's offering in their Executive Development Series. For twenty years he was considered by many to be America's foremost leadership scholar.
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