In 1945, within months of his liberation from a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, Viktor Frankl (who was earlier a psychologist practicing in Vienna) wrote the book ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’. The book not only explored the horrors and suffering that Frankl endured in the camps but majorly, it wanted to answer the question: what makes life worthwhile and meaningful? The book went on to sell 10 million copies in 24 languages. Here are some heart touching lessons from Man’s Search For Meaning’:
You may take everything you want from a human being but what you cannot take from him/her ever is his/her ability to choose an attitude towards a situation. You always have a choice on how to react to a given situation.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.“
Suffering is inevitable. It’s how we react to this suffering that truly counts.
“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an eradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.”
A purpose will carry you through the most difficult of times. It will carry you from the dark towards the light at the end of the tunnel. To quote Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
“The prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and become subject to mental and physical decay.”
The meaning of life is found not in words but in the right actions.
“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”