I teach a class on Counseling Theory and love it! One assignment I give for students to create an original theory that answers the following questions:

1. What is life all about?

Freud: Our instinctual drives (id) are forever at war with social propriety (superego) and life is about maintaining a balance between these two forces using the logical mind (ego) as mediator.

Rogers: Life is about self-actualization. Becoming the best possible you.

Frankle: Life is about finding subjective meaning.

2. How do we screw things up?

Freud: Unconscious issues create an imbalance between the id and the superego.

Rogers: An unhealthy environment (indifference, phoniness, ridicule) has inhibited your natural progression towards self-actualization.

Frankle: Allowing others to define your meaning in life.

3. How do we fix it?

Freud: Uproot unconscious issues so that the ego can deal with them.

Rogers: In an environment of genuiness, empathy and respect, we can’t help but grow towards actualizing.

Frankle: Understand that you have both the freedom and the responsibility to create a meaningful life for yourself.

I’ve played fast and loose with Freud, Rogers and Frankle. The examples above are just my own interpretations for illustrative purposes. The point of the post is for us to explore our own, personal theories.

How do you answer the questions?

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Comment by Pat on May 7, 2013 at 2:51pm

What is life about? 

Whatever you choose to make it, taking into account the opportunities you've of which you've availed yourself, the risks that have paid off, and the risks that have failed.

How do we screw it up? 

By taking no risks whatsoever. No risks at love, adventure, or curiosity, and no concomitant emotional reciprocity, satisfaction, or sense of wonder.

How do we fix it? 

Get off your dead ass.

Comment by Edward Teach on May 7, 2013 at 2:33pm

Ok, how bout this purely existential answer (nods to Victor Frankle)?

What is life about?

Meaning is a human need/invention and must be created (or adopted) by each individual.

How do we screw it up?

By buying into the false perception that objective meaning exists

How do we fix it?

By becoming comfortable with the the subjective nature of the human experience.

Comment by Edward Teach on January 21, 2010 at 10:08am
aw, damn rusty I think I like some of your ideas better

High praise Johnny. Many thanks ;-)

The next step towards making the theory functional is "fleshing it out," by developing specific techniques designed to facilitate part 3 of the theory.

I like your theory too. Especially part 3:

acknowledge that your life is all the more useless when you refuse to analyze it.
Comment by Johnny on January 20, 2010 at 3:54pm
aw, damn rusty I think I like some of your ideas better ;)
Comment by Johnny on January 20, 2010 at 3:53pm
1. The question is obviously too subjective about. The objective truth claim is that there is no objective purpose. (o.O) hahaha obviously poorly worded but you get what I mean. The purpose of my life is to live for awhile and although my purpose will change a few times throughout my life, my purpose is to be satisfied with my accomplishments by the time I die or at least think "that was fun!" I agree with Frankle.

2. again, Frankle with one distinction: as a determinist we HAVE TO be defined by other beings. But to go for the message rather than what he literally said, we screw things up by being a sheep and not bothering to give claims fair analyses.

3. acknowledge that your life is all the more useless when you refuse to analyze it. going along with the flow makes you no better than a piece of driftwood. It is ever more impressive to be able to challenge the current in a sailboat.
Comment by Edward Teach on January 19, 2010 at 3:29pm
1. What is life all about? Life is not about anything. Life just is and I just am.

2. How do we screw things up? Screw what up? This question makes no sense if you believe that life is not about anything.

3. How do we fix it? Fix what? My perception of decisions is only that.... a perception. The idea that I can make choices implies some kind of psychological dualism which does not exist.




Right on. I think you and Loren and I are different brands of the same product ;-)
Comment by Edward Teach on January 19, 2010 at 2:26pm
Here’s mine:

1. What is life all about?

Life demonstrates it’s nature to us every second of every day. Life is exactly what it is.

2. How do we screw life up?

By placing value judgments on life… comparing your life to your ideas about how you think life should be (happy, exciting, fun, successful, etc.).


3. How do you fix it?

Fully appreciate the experience of being alive as a human. I’m not saying to enjoy every experience, just to appreciate the sensations, ideas, emotions, or lessons the experience provides.
Comment by Loren Miller on January 19, 2010 at 2:12pm
You do what you can, don't do what you can't, and when the opportunity presents itself, add to that first category.

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