Title: Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning
Author: Viktor Frankl
Year: Published: 10/06/2000
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Psychology, Philosophy, Science
Short Description: Our industrial society is undoubtedly trying to satisfy all human needs, and its companion, the consumer society, has continuously creating new treasures to be satisfied. This endless loop puts us in a difficult position in terms of which side we should choose. Fortunately, the founder of logotherapy – Viktor Frankl, has his theory that will aid in these difficult times.
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Viktor Frankl is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna. The founder of logotherapy and the man who wrote one of the most successful books about the human search for meaning: Man’s Search for Meaning. In this sequel, the author continues to prove to the reader the importance of finding a goal that is bigger than the very existence of the individual.
Life doesn’t stop giving us meaning until our very last moment, to our last breath. People are able to find meaning in life regardless of their gender, age, IQ, education. It’s up to us to ask the question. Once we do, the answer will soon follow.
After finishing the first book, I was thrilled. I’ve purchased Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning the following week, and I buried myself into the pages full of wisdom. My thoughts? I wasn’t satisfied. My expectations were quite high from the first book that they didn’t answer the question for ultimate meaning. Not that I expect the book to be magic, still, I had really high expectations.
The book is more of a scientific work than anything else. It’s actually a lecture that was first introduced to the world back in 1947. I suppose it awakes the interest in people who are professionals in the field. It’s not quite for the average person, though. For me, it was just a book full of words that are difficult to pronounce. Most of my time, I was googling to find the meaning of some sentences. Not that I am trying to minify the importance of the book. No. I haven’t probably reached the age, or the intellectual level to appreciate the book enough. Still, I was able to find something.
The things that impressed me, the ones you will see below, are the reflection of my deep thoughts, and, after solving the puzzle behind some of the hard-to-understand words of the author. Nevertheless, the book, at the very least, might guide you to a good question, which the answer to, can change your life into a positive direction.
Here are some of the most insightful things, for me, I would really like to remember from this book:
Three Main Virtues
According to Sigmund Freud, who is kind of a big deal in these fields, there are only three main virtues that exist: objectivity, courage, and sense of responsibility. I know, it’s tempting to add something additional to the short list above. But before you even start thinking about it, let’s observe the ones we just received for granted:
Objectivity – If we scroll through the dictionary, we will see the following thing:
Objectivity is a noun that means a lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice. Maintaining one’s objectivity is the most important job of a judge.
On the surface, it will mean that people who are objective don’t have a personal opinion about anything. On a deeper level, things are quite different. Objectivity grants you with a boosted sense of understanding of things. Staying unbias, analyzing things from different perspectives is really important quality. It leads you to the core of things, which is kind of what you need before you act in pretty much every situation.
Courage – It’s not only being brave, or, doing things despite the fear you feel. Courage, it’s also a feeling of control, both of yourself and the situation. Only a person who is in control can act in situations that are out of his comfort zone. People with courage are often compared to superheroes, people with extraordinary strength and perseverance.
My personal opinion is that such personalities are people who possess laser-focus and have clearly defined mission in life. This sharp thinking removes the fear in any situation and helps them act, no matter the situation.
Sense of responsibility – More often I see young people doing their best to abandon responsibility. If they find themselves in a difficult situation, instead of trying to resolve it, they pass the ball to someone else. It’s massively avoided topic. People simply want to live in ignorance, hiding behind their smartphones and well designed social media profiles.
Responsibility is not only doing your job, taking out the garbage or occasionally fucking your wife. It’s being accountable for your own actions and above. It’s a necessary quality for a leader or a person who simply wants to become something more in life.
Stop, and think about the three qualities for a moment… Do you possess them?
Example of Personal Commitment
YouTubers, can’t really give meaning to their subscribers. The same goes for a CEO of a company. He can’t install meaning to his employees. Yes, he can give them orders, tell them what they need to do, what the company is trying to achieve, but he won’t be able to actually give them a tailored advice about on what they should devote their lives. What he, and other influential people, can provide to their audiences, is an example of personal commitment towards something greater.
Through their actions, people influence other people. I doesn’t matter who you are, and how many people are “following” you. What matters is what you do, regardless. Your personal being influences others. Good or bad, depends on your actions. Thanks to social media and the Internet, you can even impact people you haven’t actually met.
Nowadays, we are all influencers. You can start a blog, YouTube channel, build an app or simply post stuff on your Facebook wall. So, if you want to help others, think twice before you hit post next time.
Decide Who You Will be
That’s probably the single most important thought in the whole book.
Don’t let others control you! You, yourself have to decide who you will be and what you will be doing in your life. Not doing it, you immediately lend the steering wheel of your own life to others. Your boss, manager, wife, partner, friend, mother, father.
I would say that being a person, means being responsible, responsible for your own existence.” Viktor Frankl
Unfortunately, only a few of us are in control, sort to speak. Our daily jobs are a perfect example of not being in control of own lives. Even before going to the office, we are obligated to obey someone else’s’ rules: “Your working day starts at 9 am. I want you in the office at least 10 minutes earlier.” We don’t even notice this. We are thankful that we even have a job in the first place. Is this how you want to spend the rest of your life, working for someone else, achieving his dream, not yours?
If you do, I wish you most of luck, and I hope you will soon climb the corporate ladder. If you belong to the other 1% of the population, the ones who are looking for something more, than, I embrace your decision. It’s going to be harder than you’ve ever thought, but at the end, it will worth it.
Excessive thinking becomes harmful
It can be an endless loop. Worse, excessive thinking will probably force you to quit, than starting in the first place.
I bet you’ve done it. I bet you’ve thought about something for days and finally, you realized that it’s too late: “I will forgive Jonathan. I was too jealous. That’s why our relationship didn’t last. However, he is kind of stubborn and he rarely listens to what I say. Hmm. I should go out with Jenny, she will definitely have an answer.” two weeks and 5 meetings with all of your girlfriends later, you decide to forgive your X boyfriend. However, he already has another girl.”
Overthinking things is a bad handling of any situation. You can think about it for a while, yes, but not go into extremes. You measure the situation, see what are the possible scenarios and then you either do it or you don’t do it. There shouldn’t be something more. Failures are not out of the box, but at least you will know sooner, that your initial decision sucked, you didn’t waited for weeks to realize that you had to pick plan B. Now, you can start working on it.
Meaning is Found, It’s Not Given
Man seeks a way to justify his existence. Search for the main reason why he’s here, living. Like Neo in the Matrix, questioning the status quo. Meaning is something personal, intimate, different for all of us. It’s something dependent from our own conscience.
Even though the above is true, meaning it’s not something you stumble while walking. It requires you to connect to your inner self, your core. Ask profound questions like: “What exactly you enjoy doing? What spark an interest in your being? How would you want to spend the rest of your days? What kind of work you can do, that will help the humanity improve?”
As long as we are motivated by the fear of punishment, the hope of reward, or the desire to feed our forever hungry ego, we won’t find shit. Meaning is something really serious. Once you find what it is, you will feel satisfied, but also responsible. Responsible for actually achieving it.
Once you know what you should do, devote your life towards this. It’s your duty.
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