Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Man's Search for Meaning

In a few regards I found Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl a contradiction in terms; small in size but consequential in its substance, simple in its message but profound in its impact. I stumbled my way to it this weekend in a sheer stroke of luck. It’s not a hot new bestseller, in fact it was first published in 1946 and by the time of the author’s death back in 1997 it had supposedly sold 10 million copies in 24 languages, so I’m undoubtedly preaching to the choir to many of you in singing its praises.

For those of you that like me hadn’t been lucky enough to discover it, I hope you’ll take the time to pick up or download a copy. The book chronicles legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s time as an Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, and describes his theory which he termed logotherapy that holds that life is not a quest for pleasure or power, but a search for meaning, and stresses that “those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” Relying on his own life experiences as the true testament and foundation for his beliefs, he movingly asserts that “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.”

The meaning of life is different for each of us, but Frankl reminds us that we each have our “own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out” which demands fulfillment. In those words of wisdom along with countless others, like “don’t aim at success…for success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself,” and through his life’s example he gently guides each of us towards finding our own path to a more meaningful life.