I’m a strong believer that everybody has a choice.
A choice on how they want to design their life and how they’ll handle both pleasant and tragic situations. I really enjoyed Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning because it gave encouraging evidence that we really do always have a choice and a responsibility in our lives.
Finding Meaning in Suffering
Frankl details life on the inside of Nazi concentration camps and the resilient spirits of many of the prisoners and also prisoners who did not practice resilience, but rather gave in to suicide, treated fellow prisoners with complete contempt or just gave up and eventually died. Under some of the worst conditions known to man, there were still those that retained their humanity, held on to hope and found meaning in it all.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof 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, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl
What is Logotherapy?
As a psychiatrist before the war, Frankl was already working on a book on logotherapy, but he lost the manuscript when he arrived at Auschwitz. I’ve never heard of logotherapy before reading this book, but it really resonates with me! Logotherapy asserts you must discover the meaning in your life and there are three main ways to do it: “(1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone (e.g. experiencing beauty or loving someone); and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” Frankl’s imperative of logotheraphy is,
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”
How Man’s Search for Meaning Encouraged Me Personally
For me, this reminds me to go full on into my wildest dreams and not worry about failing or what anyone thinks. To not waste time worrying when I’ll have the perfect opportunity or perfect partner. Just focus on truly being me, loving the ones I’m with and allowing life to naturally happen. To go at life full force and not care if I’m unconventional. To not be afraid to tell people how I feel and that I believe in them; to show love, appreciation and care for others. Every day I want to fall more and more in love with life—its highs and lows.
I know that if I were to look back on life, I would wish I had enjoyed every present moment, not feared time passing and not waited up for anybody.
It’s not even close to representative or perfect, but that’s my quick takeaway from Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s one of the world’s most loved books—with more than 10 million copies sold in 24 languages—and I hope that if it interests you even a tiny bit, you’ll read it. 😉
P.S. There’s also extremely interesting examples of success with setting paradoxical intentions—aiming for the opposite of your desired outcome—in the “Logotherapy in a Nutshell” section of the book. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out!