Quick Overview of Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, is a harrowing story of concentration camp survival and the lasting life lessons taken from the wreckage.
While Viktor Frankl was exploring life’s meaning as a psychiatrist well before his incarceration into Auschwitz, it was the experience of total loss and suffering in concentration camps over a three year period that rounded out his life’s work, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Frankl’s book is for anyone who is looking something to hold onto in this world; some truth, meaning, or understanding in what seems to be a collective state of madness. We’ve all gone through existential moments in our lives where we wonder whether or not any of this means anything…whether or not life is just controlled chaos followed by death.
Despite being concerned with life’s meaning, this book is not religious. If anything, Frankl comments that his “Logotherapy”, a term he coined for his psychiatric methodology, is simply helping people find meaning in this life, not salvation for the afterlife. His aim is to reposition people’s perspective on the actuality of their situations, and to help them see the true meaning in their lives.
I’ll avoid spoilers, per the usual, as I think a book like this must be read and digested – not “bulletpointed”.
Despite not feeling a lack of meaning or motivation personally, I found some of the lessons extremely inspiring, and if anything, helped me refocus on those things – and people – that really do drive the most meaning and value for me in my life. Sometimes it is so easy to get dragged into drama, politics, people and pursuits that really don’t move the needle on a deeper level.
Viktor Frankl identifies three cardinal ideas that create meaning in life, and argues that we all do, in fact, have meaning. Whether through love of others, suffering with dignity, or changing the world, no matter what hand we’re dealt we can have a significant meaning. Sometimes we all get caught up ideals, like what we are supposed to be or who we are supposed to be, and if we don’t fit those neat ideals we feel meaningless. Frankl argues against this destructive philosophy, that we can’t all have the movie star story, the multimillionaire story, or the “perfect life” story. In fact, most of us don’t. Frankl’s passion is helping people see the meaning in their own lives for themselves, especially when things don’t go according to their wildest ambitions (when do things go according to plan, really?).
I wholeheartedly recommend the book. Whether you love history, inspirational biographies, or are looking to improve your perspective on your own life through time-tested principles, you need to give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.
I was inspired to read this book because of the many recommendations in Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss (Non-Affiliate Link)
Pick up the book on Amazon: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (Non-Affiliate Link)