“Man’s Search for Meaning”

I have been steadily getting back into reading. The last year or so I have been doing a lot of audiobooks (like A LOT) but I haven’t made time to sit and actually read a physical book. I just finished Essentialism by Greg McKeown (which is a truly incredible book by the way) and I moved on to Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The book is a short read and is one of those books I hated to put down. Every time I had to go do something else, I was excited to get back to reading it.

The first half of the book recounts his time in the concentration camps during WWII and gives insight into his thoughts personal experiences (internally and externally). The last half of the book discusses his concept of Logotherapy.

I highly suggest picking this book up. First off, it’s only $7 on Amazon right now. Secondly, the insight and concepts in the book are very impactful.

Below are a few of the quotes and concepts that really stood out to me.

Be good, READ hard, train hard, stay safe,

-aaron


  • 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.
  • Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
  • Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
  • Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, 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.
  • When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.
  • No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.
  • 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.
  • A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.
  • The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.
  • Sunday neurosis, that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.
  • To suffer unecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.
  • If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.
  • Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.
  • 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, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it