Man’s Search For Meaning

I just found out that one of my favorites reads is actually on Youtube as a free audiobook. It is a small big book of wisdom.

Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl tells his story of surviving a concentration camp. Frankl noticed that his fellow prisoners who could find purpose and meaning in their suffering found the strength to survive, while others perished. The experience led to his theory on the importance of meaning in one’s life.

Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning:

  • By creating a work or doing a deed
  • By experiencing something or encountering someone
  • By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

Frankl emphasizes that meaning is something one discovers – it is not something one invents.

He provides the following clue:

“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue”

In other words, Frankl believes that meaning cannot be pursued as a goal in itself. It must ensue as a side-effect of pursuing other goals. If what you really want is to find meaning, he instructs, “you have to let it happen by not caring about it.” Instead, he suggests embracing activities that connect you with something greater.

Another thing I really take with me from Frankl’s book is, that it does not matter what meaning man experiences in his life, as long as there is one, then it makes all the difference.

Afternote: Just as empowering meaning can be experienced – just as devastating it can be to lose it. Therefore, some chooses to keep the experience of meaningfulness from life while searching for it.

At the same time self-protection and self-sabotage.