Finding New Meaning in Life

Finding New Meaning in Life

Finding New Meaning in Life

Australians enjoy a high quality of life in a wealthy nation with a strong economy, laidback culture, government-funded education and healthcare, and a stunning natural environment – yet our intake of antidepressants is one of the highest per capita in the world.

This startling statistic is among those that caught the attention of Ms Marcia Griffin who, with Dr Paul McQuillan, has written a new 'bookazine" called Finding New Meaning in Life. The unique collaboration between a businesswoman and a Franklian therapist joins the dots between positive self-help and mental fitness.

Based on the philosophy of renowned psychiatrist Dr Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) and his groundbreaking bestseller Man's Search for Meaning, the 160-page book-magazine hybrid aims to introduce a new generation of Australians to Frankl's belief that all people seek meaning in their lives and suffer without it.

'I read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl as I was visiting a friend in a psychiatric hospital who was dealing with depression," Ms Griffin said. 'When I asked about his treatment it was basically antidepressants and group sessions. His problem, as he expressed to me, was that he felt his life had no meaning. Ironically his issue, lack of meaning in his life, was one of the major issues that Viktor Frankl focused on in his therapy."

A chief executive, company director and business mentor, Ms Griffin also has found throughout her life that people with purpose and meaning in their lives are more energised and fulfilled, so she enrolled in a short course about Frankl's philosophy, -logotherapy', to learn more. There she met her co-author and logotherapy instructor, Dr Paul McQuillan.

A doctor of psychology, former school principal and education administrator, Dr McQuillan now works full-time as a counsellor and therapist, practising and teaching logotherapy. He is one of only two instructors qualified to teach logotherapy in Australia. According to Viktor Frankl, people's main motivation for living is the will to find meaning in life, and that life has meaning under all circumstances. Dr McQuillan believes this applies more so than ever.

'We have become a self-centered society," Dr McQuillan said. 'Look at medicine and psychology – it is about -cure', or easing the pain, or becoming a better me, or looking deep inside my past. Human beings can only be better people when they look outside of themselves and give to others. We have all of the means to live, but it seems, nothing to live for," he said.

'Marcia had the vision because she saw an evidence-based psychological theory to underpin what she had been saying for many years to business owners and others."

The pair spent three years co-writing the short, practical book, which Dr McQuillan hopes will encourage people to consider an evidence-based alternative to the medical model that pervades therapy in Australia.

A businesswoman and business mentor who has achieved success at the highest levels, Ms Griffin, a former Telstra Business Woman of the Year, said she always has been driven to achieve her best in whatever she has set out to do.

'Equally, I have always been passionate about helping others to do their best, to stretch themselves, challenge themselves and get the same sort of satisfaction I have always got from doing my best," Ms Griffin said. 'This book combines my life learnings and business experience – things familiar to all of us – with the psychology of logotherapy. It shows us that having a purpose not only helps us achieve in business, but is good for our mental health," she said.

'We see our book as a tool that anyone can use to help with their mental fitness and ability to do their best and to have a meaning-filled and exciting life." Finding New Meaning in Life is a both a self-help book and guide to mental fitness, offering tips and ideas that are accessible to everyone. 'It is aimed at everyone who wishes to live life to the fullest," she said.

Finding New Meaning in Life
Authors: Marcia Griffin and Dr Paul McQuillan
RRP: $19.95

Interview with Marcia Griffin

Question: What inspired you to write Finding New Meaning in Life?

Marcia Griffin: I was inspired to write this book after I read Viktor Frankl's book Mans Search for Meaning. A friend had been given the book and I was visiting him in a psychiatric clinic. He had not read the book but I did and could not put it down. My friend was suffering from depression and being given anti-depressants and invited to sessions that were not helpful to him. His real issue was that he felt his life lacked meaning-As Viktor Frankl said the main drive we have as human beings is to find meaning - I started questioning why his science was not the basis of therapy for depression -I did a short course in Logotherapy and realized that all the motivational books I had read had had been helpful but this one combined self-help with science. I wanted to combine all that I had learned in life and business and test that against logotherapy - hence my book written with a therapist who treats his clients using logotherapy.

Question: Who did you write this book for?

Marcia Griffin: The book was written for a broad market"all of us at times have periods of self-doubt and worry. If we can take time to think about our real issues –we can solve many of our own problems. But we do need to think!

Question: Can you explain the combination of self-help and mental fitness?

Marcia Griffin: As a business person I see that people with an optimistic attitude and sense of purpose are better placed to handle depression-they have the tools to get through 'stuff" The chapter headings in our book outline those tools.

Question: What was it like working with Dr Paul McQuillan?

Marcia Griffin: It was great working with Dr McQuillan as he practices the therapy, (logotherapy) that is empowering and optimistic in that this therapy has great belief in our capacity as human beings to make choices, and with the right support, find meaning in our lives.

Question: What do you hope readers take from Finding New Meaning in Life?

Marcia Griffin: I would like readers to understand their innate uniqueness and value the fact that we can choose to respond to circumstances in a healthy manner. I want them to feel uplifted and to think about what really makes them happy and fulfilled. They may be surprised! I am hoping they will see that real happiness comes from a sense of purpose and that there are ways of thinking to achieve a satisfying and meaning filled life. The solutions to life's challenges are sometimes simpler than we might think.

Finding New Meaning in Life
Authors: Marcia Griffin and Dr Paul McQuillan
RRP: $19.95


Interview by Brooke Hunter