Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Life is the continual search

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Life is the continual search

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Individuals develop at different rates. Infants for example, eventually become aware of themselves as a person. In turn, each child develops a complex range of emotions including intellectual, psychological, and reasoning capabilities. Eventually a child will ask: “’Who Am I?’ ‘Where Am I going?’ ‘What is the meaning of Life?’” In essence, all humans are in a state of transition.

The meaning of life is different for everyone—there is no one right answer—there is only the answer that is right for you. We are all unique human beings with our own unique essence. So, why do humans search for meaning?

Two categories of people in life; those who take existence for granted and those who question the nature of existence. Some humans need to believe that there is some paramount “purpose” in life, a reason-for-being or “Raison d’etr” as the French say. A belief that there is something beyond working every day and shopping. If humans fail to find answers in religion, they search elsewhere for meaning in their lives (meditation, a Guru in India, growth groups, psychedelics) striving to experience a sense of interconnectedness with other people, and the vibration and silent hum of nature and the vast universe.

According to Dr. Viktor Frankl the meaning of life is discovered in three different ways: “(1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,” Frankl argues.

We live in an age of the digital mentality leading to a social stimulus overload. In the atmosphere of political correctness and cultural shifting, the predicament is that the expression of basic human convictions become difficult to negotiate. In turn, people are forced to look at their sense of self. Yet, popular attitudes can side-track a person’s expression of their identity and who they are, what they feel, or being true to themselves. Today, how much room do you have to be yourself? It’s a balancing act of old values and new ones and determining what parts of you to express, when and how.

Regardless of what challenges you face in life; you have the freedom to choose your attitude and your response to what is happening to you. Dr. Frankl believed that there is meaning in every moment of our lives — up to our very last breath — and that it is our personal responsibility to find it. However, traumatic suffering is not a prerequisite for finding meaning in our lives. Whenever we do suffer — no matter what the severity of the suffering is — we can find meaning in the situation.

According to Alex Pattakos Ph.D., the search for the discovery of, and the connection with our true nature give our lives meaning every day. Meaning comes with being “who” we are in this world. When you believe something is meaningful, it is because it resonates with your true nature. When you believe something lacks meaning or is meaningless, it is because it does not resonate with your true nature. The search, the discovery, and the connection with our true nature gives our lives meaning every day.

When you understand what brings meaning to your life and what saps your energy, you feel more in control. Then you can be your true self, accept and express yourself more freely. For Dr. Frankl, he believed a person had three primary motivational forcea to find meaning in life: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. He added that life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. And, our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. People have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stance we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

Meaning is happening constantly in your life. Recognize it. Life is the continual search for a closer awareness of your true nature each day and over the course of your life.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at the website or at email.

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