Man’s Search for Meaning

man meaning

This is a book that I have avoided for 10 years. My extreme point of view that life is meaningless and insignificant kept me away from picking this book for so long. However when my friend @asifaslam recommended this book, despite my belief and past actions, I decided to give it a try this time.

Book is small, easy to read, not at all gory to my surprise considering this is about author Viktor Frankl’s World War II memoirs from the Auschwitz Concentration camp. Victor’s experiences are truly unique because he is a Psychiatrist by profession and is one of the rare lucky ones to survive through the trauma of the Concentration camp to document the real life learnings through a victim’s lens.

Three personal takeaways from this book:

Malleability – You are infinitely tougher than you think you are. It is amazing how malleable human beings can be. Prisoners for war were provided with no place to sleep. Hundreds of them were crammed into small cages and they leaned on each other’s dirty naked bodies to rest. The concept that man needs certain hours of sleep didn’t apply here. The author notes people who suffered from Insomnia before they were prisoners didn’t have any problems whatsoever to catching up the little sleep at the slightest opportunity.

Hope – Only 1 in 28 survived a Concentration camp. While most of them were scheduled periodically to gas chambers, there were plenty who died of diseases, accidents and suicide. One very prominent trait of people who survived is they had something look forward for. They had a meaning in their existence and hoped they will get there in spite of the heavy odds stacked against them. That explains why there is a sharp increase of deaths after the Christmas week as lot of people were naïve and wildly optimistic of joining their families for Christmas. When they find out that is not going to happen, some of them end up contracting diseases or getting into accidents resulting in their deaths soon after the Christmas week. The author strongly believed he will unite with his wife who is waiting for him somewhere. He also wanted to complete a manuscript he was writing which was his life’s work before he was imprisoned. These two reasons gave meaning to his existence.

Love – There will always be reasons to hate someone or a circumstance. But there will always be things to love as well. Choosing one or the other yield different results with totally different costs. If your goal is peace for yourself, choose love. The Author’s book was first written in German which was surprising considering all his suffering and pain was inflicted by the Nazis!

I would recommend this book to everyone but especially to folks who are looking at reasons for a digital detox and wanting to focus away from their cell phone like I was. This book is small, good read and provides a rich perspective.

That’s all folks.

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