Man's Search for Meaning

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Man's Search for Meaning

Post by Louise Shan Yan on Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:05 am

Over the years, I have been trying to find the meaning of life and I’ve read quite some books and even taken classes in psychology, but my question remains unanswered until I came across this book: Man’s Search for Meaning.

This book was written by Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, about his experience in concentration camp and his transcendence. I am not sure if transcendence is the right word here but I still want to use it. He was starved and abused in the camp, yet he saw through all this and found the meaning in life and even created a school of psychology based on his experience and insight.

Below are some excerpts from the book:

"What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop thinking about the meaning of life, and instead to 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 in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Those tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared to any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man maybe required simply to accept fate, to bear his cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation by hand.

When a man finds that it is destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

For us, as prisoners, these thoughts were not speculations far removed from reality. They were the only thoughts that could be of help to us. They kept us from despair, even when there seemed to be no chance of coming out of it alive. Long ago we had passed the stage of asking what was the meaning of life, a naïve quey which understands life as the attaining of some aim through the active creation of something of value. For us, the meaning of life embraced the wider cycles of life and death, of suffering and dying."

Sometimes I feel that I am blessed with a slightly above-average IQ, and other times I feel that life is not fair and there’s so much burden on my shoulders. But I’ve learnt to make peace with myself after reading this book, and I am glad that I have a great book to turn to during my difficult times.

This is why I am sharing this book with you guys, although it has nothing to do with business.

Louise Shan Yan

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Join date : 2014-11-03

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