Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

Man’s Search For Meaning [LINK] – Viktor E. Frankl

This is one of my all time favorite books.

Set in 1940’s Nazi Germany, where Viktor Frankl details his life in a concentration camp. The book uses his experiences to tackle the age-old question of what is the meaning to life?

Frankl describes three sources to meaning: (1) in work – doing something significant, (2) in love – caring for another person, and (3) in courage during difficult times.

He argues that life never ceases to have meaning. To find it, we must control our attitude, for it is the one thing that cannot be taken from man; the ability to choose one’s way. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Success is like happiness in that it cannot be pursued, it must ensue. It is the side effect of dedication to a cause greater than oneself. He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. Success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.

As man has increased comprehension, he has relied less on biological instincts and more on thought. There is no instinct that tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism). Ideally I try to strive for uniqueness and pursuing contrarian ideas. This type of pursuit often leads to failure and an understanding that one cannot control and dictate all aspects of life. For as Frankl said, most of us wish to conform or tell others what to do. By controlling attitude, we can position ourselves to take advantage of any given situation, regardless of the circumstances.

Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life, and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

The perception of meaning is becoming aware of a possibility against the background of reality. . . when you see an opportunity, get after it.