A few years ago, I read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”.
Though it’s a brief read, I learned so much from it.
Frankl is a great storyteller. He takes the reader with him as he struggles to adapt to life in a World War II concentration camp. From his training as a neurologist and psychiatrist, he has a unique perspective toward the challenges he faced while surviving the Holocaust.
When confronted with the horrors of his experience, Frankl turned to the words of Nietzsche:
“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”
Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning (or the “Why” as Nietzsche calls it) — in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. He famously wrote:
“You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
Here are a few of the other lines in the book that resonated with me:
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
“..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, to choose one’s own way.”
“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.”
P.S. Frankl is an inspiration and an embodiment of the theme of Resilience. Our Curated Resources for Resilience include other good reads from the likes of Epictetus, Brené Brown, Ryan Holiday and Cheryl Strayed. Become a member to get access →
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