“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”
Back in 2012, I met Tarek, a colleague and a friend. He recommended a book: a man’s search for meaning. We were both passionate about psychology. He was the first person to introduce me to logotherapy. I then learned that Frankl was the founder of logotherapy based on his experience and theories around the need to find purpose in order to be motivated, fulfilled, and happy.
Throughout the past six years, I have not come across one inspirational leader who does have a proven track record without mentioning this book as a perennial favorite.
Goodreads has more than 13,000 reviews for this book describing it as the memoir of Frankl who portrays his life in Nazi death camps. He shares in his book lessons from how he survived. Frankl does not speak about his experience alone. In fact, he leverages the stories of his patients (he was a psychiatrist) in order to demonstrate how human beings cannot avoid sufferings (some Asians might not approve of that!). Yet they can cope with them. Those who were able to do so are those who looked for meaning in their sufferings.
The author spent three years (as of 1942) in four different camps. During this time, his family (including a pregnant wife) perished. Frankl refuses to correlate pleasure and happiness. For him, human beings are driven by purpose, by the pursuit of meaning.
While this book was an influential one in the USA, it has quickly become a best seller across the globe (the book exists in 24 languages).Many reader surveys mentioned this book as one that made a difference in people’s life (check the Library of Congress – 1991). Famous speaker Tony Robbins said in one of his events I attended in London that he would like to transform this book into a movie.
Frankl’s is one of my (many) favorite books. This one holds a special place though. I think it would for any person who reads it.
I wanted to share my personal key takeaways having read it many times. Eventhough I assure you that as you read it you will discover, and re-discover many more.
Frankl’s writing stands out with three whys: love, work, and dignity in suffering.
Fankl’s found salvation in love. He believes and actually spends time to prove that love was his personal remedy to pain.
Frankl argues that human beings can get used to anything even the harshest conditions.
Frankl tells stories to show how he was able to resist the environment he lived in. He strongly believes that the environment could influence our actions nevertheless we always have a choice to make.
Frankl thinks that we should not avoid suffering. Instead, he thinks there is meaning in suffering. A meaning we give to suffering. I think this idea is tightly correlated to hope and to the future. If you do not accept your suffering and give or find meaning to it, wouldn’t you be doomed?
If you prefer videos over books, you can watch the author’s lectures online. Here’s one I selected for you.