“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”
This simple and profound quote from Nietzsche captures perfectly the main idea of V. Frankl’s book “Man’s search for meaning”. The purpose of the author is to prove that a human being is capable to overcome any obstacle as long as he can find the meaning for his actions, for his life. Frankl argues this idea relaying on his own experience as a prisoner in Auschwitz, who succeeded to stay alive despite the outrageous conditions which destroyed physically and psychologically the majority of detained people.
So, how to survive when obviously the reality tells you that a concentration camp equals to certain death? Well, Frankl is saying that each person has a choice how to respond to everything comes in his or her life.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
To choose how to respond – this affirmation really struck me, because I was always thinking that there is just one way to respond to particular events in our life. Then, after reading Frankl’s book, I realized that society is actually the one who is responsible for teaching us these reactions. We definitely were not born with despair, anger, pain, envy, hurt etc., but we, being unaware, embraced them as part of normal reality. For instance smiling in a situation of sorrow could be perceived as insanity since the reality is telling us we should cry.
“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”
Frankl emphasizes that reality is nothing then a subjective point of view and being a full actually can in many cases save your life.
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
“Life is a question for meaning” and Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love and in courage during difficult times. Everybody must fallow their vocation and passion, doing something they really like through dedication and striving for perfection. Love “is ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. The salvation of man is through love and in love.” Courage to find meaning in suffering, remaining brave, dignified and unselfish – that’s the true test of a man capable to go beyond difficult times and to be worthy of a meaningful life.
“Man’s search for meaning” reminds us about the pillars our existence is based upon; about the vital importance to have a life based on meaning as a condition to be able to go forward and stand up stronger after each failure.
A wonderful book which made a big impact in how I perceive now the life. It just shifted my attention from insignificant aspects to others, far more important and essential in my existence as a human being.
“Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.”