Why would a Business Woman of the Year be looking for Meaning in Life? What did she find that is worth sharing?
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 anti-depressants 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.