After reading a lot of ‘Man’s search for meaning’ quotes on social media, I have finally managed to read the actual book. This book deserves all the attention it gets, but it is much more that a book about hope and optimism. Frankl has explored both the heart and the mind.
Frankl talks about his experiences in Auschwitz concentration camps. It’s amazing how this man, who has living in hell, observed himself and people around him. Basically, everyone in the camp were fighting for their life. There was no question of ethics or humanity, because human beings were forced to become selfish in the harsh conditions. It is easy to talk about peace and love when you are living comfortably. But once you live in a place where you are beaten up for no good reason, where you mostly survive on bread crumps and soup, you don’t have the privilege to talk about ideals. And yet, Frankl gives us examples of some rare individuals who shared their piece of bread with fellow prisoners (that’s the only food item they survived on). Love and compassion are sometimes not dependent on external conditions. Frankl’s philosophy is quite simple: those who have meaning or a purpose in life can get through hell.
One underrated thing about this book is Frankl’s thoughts about ‘paradoxical intention’. When you are obsessed with getting something, you mostly don’t get it. Frankl gives an example of a man who tried hard to sleep, but couldn’t. So, the man was told to stop worrying about sleep and just stay awake. The moment the intention was changed, his anxiety reduced and his problem was solved. Similarly, there was a guy who had bad handwriting. He was told that from now on, he will write as badly he can. When he tried writing badly, he couldn’t and slowly, his handwriting improved.
‘Man’s Search of Meaning’ is a great read for mind and the soul.