Benefits: Shift your mindset when you think of making sacrifices.
So That You Can: Look at making sacrifices as a positive thing.
Go From Inspiration to Action With the Worksheet Below!
A Candid Look at the Value of Making Sacrifices
Sacrifice — what an ominous word. A word that elicits a sense of dread and foreboding.
So why do we use this word when we’re encouraging people to live their best life? We say things like, “Making sacrifices is the only way you’ll ever reach any level of success — happiness — love — etc.”
While the sentiment is true enough, why do we make it sound so negative? Can we shift our mindsets and look at making sacrifices as a positive thing? So that when we think of making a sacrifice, we don’t think of it as losing something that we value. Instead, we think of it as gaining something of higher value.
That, my friends, is exactly what we’re going to Deliberately Think about today by discussing:
- The value of making sacrifices,
- Three categories of sacrifice, and
- What can be gained by making each one.
We Make Sacrifices to Ease Suffering
This overly simplistic statement showcases one of the values of making sacrifices in a very succinct way. Its message is clear: the purpose of making sacrifices is not to cause suffering; it’s to alleviate long-term, or future, suffering.
The purpose, or value, of sacrifice was recognized by the Stoic philosophers. They believed that living a virtuous life would lead to freedom from suffering. But living a virtuous life isn’t easy, and it certainly requires a lot of sacrifices.
For starters, you have to sacrifice idealism, comfort, pleasure, cowardice, and self-righteousness. But stop and Deliberately Think about that a minute. If you could sacrifice each of these things, wouldn’t your life have more value? Wouldn’t you be well-adjusted, wise, and maybe even calm? And wouldn’t possessing these qualities lead you to live a life of minimal suffering?
After all, you cannot control the external world. It’s going to try to break you down. But, you can control your reactions. You can control whether you suffer or not by learning to control your emotions and impulses. And you gain this control by sacrificing some short-term pleasures and comforts.
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Humanity’s Main Concern is Fulfilling a Meaning
When we seek comfort, rather than meaning, we find ourselves in what Viktor Frankl called an existential vacuum. This existential vacuum leads us to depression, aggression, and addiction. How do we avoid the vacuum? By making sacrifices of course.
If there’s anyone who can speak to the pull of the vacuum, it’s Frankl. He was a highly regarded neurologist and psychiatrist who was also a holocaust survivor. One of his claims to fame is logotherapy, a type of psychotherapy. In Frankl’s own words, logotherapy:
Considers man as a being whose main concern consists of fulfilling a meaning and in actualizing values, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts.
Think about it. This guy lived (if that’s even the right word for it) in four different concentration camps over a three year period. He lost his wife, mother, father, and brother. He witnessed some of the most atrocious acts man has ever committed. And yet, he was able to find meaning in his life.
Frankl discovered what meaning meant to him because he had sacrificed everything except the freedom to choose his attitude. He is quoted as saying:
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, to choose one’s own way.
Yes, Frankl was forced to make many of the sacrifices he did; he didn’t choose to do so. And his sacrifices were far greater than the ones we need to consider making. Still, his sacrifices had value. They ultimately led him to live a life of meaning, which is something many people will never realize.
What Kinds of Sacrifices Should We Consider?
As I said, we don’t need to go to the extremes of losing our families, possessions, and freedoms. However, there are three categories of sacrifice for which the value of the sacrifice is much less than the value of what could be gained.
- Time and money
- Comfort and gratification
- Ego and pride
Let’s discuss each of these categories and figure out what greater value could be gained by making a sacrifice from each one.
Time and Money
Comfort and Gratification
Ego and Pride
Now It’s Time to Re-Evaluate Your Sacrifices
Only Have 1 Minute
Sources & Inspiration
The philosophy of Stoicism – Massimo Pigliucci, posted to YouTube on 6.19.17 by TED-Ed
Would you opt for a life with no pain? – Hayley Levitt and Bethany Rickwald, posted to YouTube on 11.17.15 by TED-Ed
Viktor Frankl: Logotherapy and Man’s Search for Meaning, posted to YouTube on 7.26.16 by Academy of Ideas
MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING BY VIKTOR FRANKL – MY FAVORITE IDEAS ANIMATED, posted to YouTube on 5.13.15 by Fight Mediocrity
What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started, posted to Daily Stoic
Stoicism, posted by The Basics of Philosophy
Viktor Frankl, posted by Good Therapy on 7.07.15
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