What does Frankl mean by "What man really needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him"?

In Man's Search for Meaning, by arguing that man does not necessarily need a "tensionless state," Viktor Frankl is saying that achieving a goal is a worthier route to life satisfaction than pursuing pleasure or ease.

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Viktor Frankl observes that most people think a good life is one devoid of suffering. After all, most people do all they can to avoid discomfort, distress, uncertainty, and pain. Some even go as far as to argue that pleasure and happiness are the highest goals in life. However, Frankl thinks such an easy existence or "tensionless state" is psychologically unhealthy. He takes issue with the idea that pleasure alone makes for a good life.

Instead, Frankl argues that satisfaction in life comes from a sense of meaning. Meaning usually comes from having a goal or at least changing one's attitude regarding unhappy duties. He references the cases of several people who were afflicted with great physical and emotional distress who erroneously believed that achieving a "tensionless state" was their only way of finding satisfaction. Instead, prescribing meaning and a goal to their suffering tended to make their pain at least bearable. For example, Frankl discusses the case of a widower who found the loss of his wife impossible to handle. When Frankl asks if the man's wife would have been able to deal with losing him any better, the widower responds that she, too, would have suffered. Frankl eases the man's grief by giving it new meaning: now he can bear the grief that would have been shouldered by his wife had she outlived him.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 24, 2021
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