When women in their twenties and thirties seek help from a therapist, the primary goal is to get help in finding and keeping the right mate. For men in their twenties and thirties, the primary goal in seeing a therapist is to get guidance on career issues.
But when people seek the help of a therapist in their forties and older, no matter what the presenting symptoms may be, the underlying issue commonly involves the existential meaning of one's life. Humans question why they are here and why our lives can be so easily replaced and forgotten after we're gone. And no matter what our beliefs are, we are all frightened by the thought of what happens to us after death. There are some literary works that explore the existential question of the human condition that are helpful.
A wondeful short and simple book is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Six decades after being published it is still in demand.
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a great literary work in which the character Levin (basically Tolstoy himself) goes through a major crisis of meaning at the height of his career and the fulfillment of his personal dreams. We can learn a lot from Levin's struggle.
Fyodor Dostoevsky"s Brothers Karamazov and Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain are also helpful.
If you read these books in high school, it doesn't count. You were too inexperienced, and these books require a mature and fertile mind in order to bear fruit. These books are not easy literature, but life is not easy either. Great literature, like life, is not clean-cut and linear. It is messy and chaotic in spite of our best efforts to control it, but life is intoxicating at times and even miraculous regardless of what we are feeling.
Do not be lazy. After all, you have only one life to live, and in order to make it worthwhile, you need all the help you can get.
I'm Dr. Blokar. For more information, click on the following resources: