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Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust.

Stephanie Wong | 29 Aug 2018

A book image of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Image credit: Act Build Change.

Mans Search for Meaning is one of those books that everyone at some point in their lives will be told to read. It is genuinely, in the truest sense of the phrase life changing.

Three Takeaways

  1. Find your purpose
  2. Don’t aim at success or happiness – aim for meaning
  3. You have the freedom to choose your response to every situation

Two parts

A photo of Viktor Frankl is superimposed onto another photo of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Viktor Frankl. Image credit: Balanced Achievement.

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, once free, he would learn most of his family, including his pregnant wife, were murdered.

The first half of his book deals with Frankls life in the concentration camps and how he and others survived. Frankl believes there were two types of prisoners those who lost faith and those who didnt. Frankl argues the prisoners with a sense of meaning were more likely to survive the camps.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

— Viktor Frankl

The second part is Frankls explanation of Logotherapy a series of methods he developed to help people overcome depression and find meaning in their lives.

How can we learn to know ourselves? Never by reflection but by action. Try to do your duty and you will soon find out what you are. But what is your duty? The demands of each day.

— Goethe

The book calls on to search for our meaning in life. Once we discover our why we can get through any how. How we find our meaning, Frankl argues, is through action, connection and through suffering.

He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

— Viktor Frankl

Frankl is a calling for all us to find meaning in our lives even in the most desperate of circumstances.