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Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything

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Extraordinary uncovered work by the 16 million copy bestselling author of Man's Search For Meaning published in English for the first time

Eleven months after his liberation from Auschwitz, Viktor E. Frankl held a series of public lectures in Vienna. The psychologist, who was to become world famous, explained his central thoughts on meaning, resilience and the importance of embracing life even in the face of great adversity.

Published for the very first time, Frankl's words resonate as strongly today as they did in 1946. He offers an insightful exploration of the maxim 'Live as if you were living for the second time', and unfolds his basic conviction that every crisis also includes an opportunity. Despite the unspeakable horrors in the camp, Frankl learnt from his fellow inmates that it is always possible to say 'YES TO LIFE' - a profound and timeless lesson for us all.

RUNNING TIME ⇒ 3hrs. and 4mins.

©2020 Viktor E. Frankl (P)2020 Random House Audio

Audible Audio

First published January 1, 1946

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About the author

Viktor E. Frankl

188 books6,344 followers
Viktor Emil Frankl M.D., Ph.D., was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of Existential Analysis, the "Third Viennese School" of psychotherapy.

His book Man's Search for Meaning (first published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism. Originally published in 1946 as Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. He was one of the key figures in existential therapy.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 536 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,781 reviews14.2k followers
April 10, 2020
He spent three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. His entire family ,including his pregnant wife were killed in the camps. Despite this, months after liberation Frankel gave a series of lectures in the purpose and sanctity if life. This book is a concentrated telling of three of those lectures. The amazing part is that his talks still have value, not only to remind us of the past but the application to our current life, the situation in which we now find ourselves.

"our perspective on life's events-what we make of them-matters as much or more than what actually befalls us. "Fate" is what happens to us beyond our control. But we each are responsible for how we relate to those events."

"Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; this the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which already seems obvious to us.

Hard won wisdom from a special man..
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
580 reviews87 followers
July 31, 2023
رنج هیچ انسانی نمی‌تواند با رنج شخص دیگر مقایسه شود، به این دلیل که بخشی از ماهیت رنج این است که به شخص به‌خصوصی تعلق دارد، رنج مختص به او است_ به این معنا که "بزرگی" آن تنها به فرد مبتلا یعنی خود شخص بستگی دارد.
این کتاب هم بخشی از سخنرانی ویکتور فرانکل، یازده ماه بعد از آزادی از اردوگاه‌های کار اجباری است. او در این کتاب در باب معنا و ارزش زندگی و مسئولیت‌پذيری و پذیرش هرآنچه می‌افتد نوشته و اساسا دید عمیقی به معنای رنج و وجود آن در زندگی هر فرد داشته است.
Profile Image for Julie.
2,012 reviews38 followers
May 11, 2022
In Victor E. Frankl's view, people find meaning in their lives in three main ways:

1. By creating something tangible such as a piece of art that will have impact after we are gone.

2. By appreciating the beauty of nature, "works of art, or simply loving people; Frankl cites Kierkegaard, that the door to happiness always opens outward."

3. By the way we endure and adapt to the events and challenges of our lives, and grow "through loving, and through suffering."

Finally, "our unique strengths and weaknesses make each of us uniquely irreplaceable" ~ Victor E. Frankl
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,186 reviews247 followers
March 19, 2020
Viktor Frankl, like anyone who endured the atrocities of the Holocaust, is someone I don’t have the vocabulary to describe. I’m in awe of the resilience and oftentimes almost unfathomable positivity of anyone who has lived through experiences I can’t even imagine. What’s even more extraordinary is that the lectures Frankl gave, which are the basis of this book, were presented only nine months after his liberation from his final concentration camp.

With an introduction by Daniel Goleman and afterward by Franz Vesely, Viktor’s son-in-law, this book comprises three of Frankl’s lectures:

* On the Meaning and Value of Life
* On the Meaning and Value of Life II
* Experimentum Crucis.

These lectures focus on suicide, forced annihilation and concentration camps respectively. With such difficult content I had expected this read to be quite depressing, but there’s hope running through even the darkest of themes. Given the author’s belief that we can find meaning regardless of our circumstances, this hope felt particularly appropriate.

This meaning, Frankl asserts, can come through “our actions, through loving, and through suffering.” Meaning doesn’t only come from work. Illness, physical or mental, doesn’t necessarily equal loss of meaning. Suffering can be either meaningful or meaningless.

Some of the early text read the way some university philosophy lectures I’ve attended felt, where I was anxious for the lecturer to get to the point, but these sections were the groundwork for what was to come. Frankl gives examples of patients he treated and people he encountered in concentration camps, and these provided the answers to ‘how does this theory apply to real life?’, which is something I always seek.

The third lecture was the one that I found most insightful. Building on the two previous lectures, Frankl discusses his thoughts on the “psychological reactions of the camp prisoners to life in the camp.” Learning how this lecture specifically related to his own ability to find meaning was inspirational.

It can be tempting, when someone talks about the importance of your attitude or finding meaning in suffering, to get into ‘yeah, but’. Yeah, but how would they feel if they were in my situation? Yeah, but what qualifies them to speak to me about suffering? It’s hard to ‘yeah, but’ when the person you’re hearing it from is Viktor Frankl.

While Frankl specifically says that no one’s suffering can be compared to anyone else’s I still find it difficult to think of any of my experiences, not matter how painful they are for me, to be comparable to those who have been subjected to concentration camps. After reading this book part of me wants to admonish myself for having a whinge about any problem I face. However, the overwhelming takeaway for me is if people like Viktor experienced what they did and still managed to find hope and meaning, then it is always possible for me, no matter what comes my way, to change my perspective.
To say yes to life is not only meaningful under all circumstances - because life itself is - but it is also possible under all circumstances.
Content warnings include death by suicide, descriptions of concentration camp experiences, euthanasia, mental illness and suicidal ideation.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Rider, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House UK, for the opportunity to read this book.
Profile Image for Semjon.
659 reviews353 followers
December 20, 2022
„Es kommt nie und nimmer darauf an, was wir vom Leben zu erwarten haben, viel mehr lediglich darauf: was das Leben von uns erwartet.“

Sind die Vorträge eines Psychiaters an einer kleinen Volkshochschule im Wien im Jahr 1946 über den Sinn des Lebens heute noch relevant? Kennen wir nicht solche Sätze schon zu genüge von den zahlreichen Personalentwicklungsbüchern auf dem heutigen Markt? Vielleicht mag man beim Lesen dieser dreiteiligen Vortragsreihe wirklich oft einen Wiedererkennungseffekt spüren, aber Viktor E. Frankl hat Erfahrungen in seinem Leben gesammelt, bei denen man ehrfurchsvoll still sitzt und aufnimmt. Er studierte während seiner Inhaftierung in verschiedenen KZs die Psyche der anderen Gefangenen. Warum verzweifelten manche und warum ertrugen manche ihr Schicksal klaglos? Beeindruckend und bewegend.

Trotz jahrelanger Beschäftigung mit der Psychotherapie hatte ich bislang noch nichts von Frankls Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse gehört. Über die Beschäftigung mit dem Existenzialismus und vor allem der Phänomenologie von Husserl bin ich auf Viktor E. Frankl gestoßen und froh, den ersten Schritt auf seine Lehre zugemacht zu haben. Ich werde ihn bestimmt noch öfter zur Hand nehmen. Genau mein Thema.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,854 reviews1,643 followers
May 2, 2020
As it approaches the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, the day of Nazi Germany's surrender on 8 May 1945, there are myriad ways in which the population will be remembering those people actively involved in or lost to wartime activity yet this book looks at things from a fresh, amazing and quite frankly inspirational perspective. Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor interned at Auschwitz in 1944 and who spent the remainder of his life attempting to make sense of what happened to him as well as searching for the meaning of life. His profound philosophical questioning led him to pursue a doctorate in philosophy in 1948 where existentialism was among his core beliefs. Viktor E. Frankl's ceaseless ability to see the light in the darkest of circumstances really shows how incredible a man he was. The lectures he prepared and presented way back in the forties, a mere few months after his liberation, have for the first been translated into English and delivered in this powerful, life-affirming 141-page book. His words and philosophy are as meaningful today as they were seventy-five years ago.

He has many valuable lessons to teach throughout this collection and despite losing his wife, mother, father and brother to the brutal Nazi regime he upheld a stoicism and resolve impossible to fathom having seen many atrocities of a bloody and genocidal war. It's times like these, when many societies around the world are in lockdown, we must remember that simply staying at home is nothing in comparison to what these survivors went through as they witnessed the horrors of Nazism and their evil ideology. Packed with wisdom, understanding and guidance this is a book that will never just be a product of its time and will benefit a multitude of people for a long time to come. It is a wonderfully insightful and well written book full of positivity and lessons on how resilience can be built through triumphing over adversity. But most of all it reminds us that hope can be found in these events we often deem as hopeless. Viktor passed on 2 September 1997 in his Austrian motherland but will undoubtedly be remembered for his timeless works. RIP Mr Frankl. Many thanks to Rider for an ARC.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
552 reviews166 followers
December 17, 2022
"[T]he individual, and only that individual, determines whether their suffering is meaningful or not." (100)

3 stars. It's overly simplistic to call this a draft of Frankl's better-known work because there is some new content to find here. But I do think it's best read as a supplement to Man's Search for Meaning. A bit more time is spent on the underlying reasoning that led towards Frankl's major assertions in Man's Search which is interesting but Man's Search is much more refined, so I feel everybody ought to start there for the fullest effect. Plus the fore- and afterwords are repetitive, largely rehashing the content of the lectures themselves.
Profile Image for diario_de_um_leitor_pjv .
511 reviews45 followers
September 5, 2022
“Dizer Sim à Vida Apesar de Tudo”
Viktor E. Frankl
Tradução de Álvaro Gonçalves

Fruto de algum preconceito demorei muito tempo a ler Viktor E. Frankl. Este livro intitulado “Dizer Sim à Vida Apesar de Tudo” foi o modo como conheci um pouco o pensamento do médico e psiquiatra austríaco. Pensamento esse que sinceramente me está a conquistar. Dei por mim a pesquisar sobre o seu processo terapêutico e a querer saber mais sobre ele.

Este livro corresponde a um conjunto de três conferências que Frankl fez numa Universidade Popular em Viena, em 1946, na realidade pouco tempo depois da libertação do autor do campo de concentração de Turkheim. Se o autor parece procurar o sentido da vida respondendo à questão: haverá sentido depois de Auschwitz?

Mas se na realidade Frankl parte deste contexto particular do pós guerra para nos propor algo mais na nossa procura incessante de um sentido para a nossa vida. E nós leitores fazemos esse caminho essa busca a partir da obra de Frankl. Pessoalmente fiquei preso no modo como o livro aparentemente me influenciou…

Por isso mesmo este pequeno livro parece-me abrir um interessante caminho. Partindo do sofrimento será possível transformar o mesmo numa conquista e realização humana, como forma de o viver e o ultrapassar? Ou por outro lado será possível partir da culpa ( e do ressentimento) como uma oportunidade de nos melhorarmos, de nos transformarmos? E como pensamos na transitoriedade da vida como um incentivo para a transformação e a ação transformadora dos nossos quotidianos?

Bem mais do que certezas este livro provocou em mim uma intensa dúvida. E agora? Que faço?

(leitura integrada nos #medicosescritores, iniciativa do @2bejay)

(li de 02 a 04 de Setembro de 2022)
Profile Image for Linden.
1,528 reviews1 follower
March 29, 2020
I read Dr. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning some years ago, so I was intrigued to learn of this book which was never before published in English (Say Yes to Life in Spite of Everything—3 lectures.) It contains some lectures he gave in 1946, not long after he was released from a concentration camp. He’s also discussing the search for meaning here, and specifically mentions how creativity, nature, art, love, adapting to limitations, and people can also give one’s life meaning. Fate, he says “is part of our lives and so is suffering….suffering also holds the possibility of being meaningful.” This is a timely and important book, offering words of encouragement from the eminent psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. Thanks to Edelweiss and to the publisher for this ARC.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,400 followers
May 29, 2022
Comes out as a rather desperate way to write a new book. And yes, the book is basically about finding the meaning of life and what/how we can do or feel to make it happen.

Poor use of examples to compare mental health conditions/suicide with mere play things. I stopped reading the book there. Cannot tolerate it when books are written this manner without much thought when it comes to important and serious health conditions. Maybe in a "philosophical" manner it may be okay but no. For someone who's struggling with anxiety, I feel this book has nothing for me.

My opinion. And this is how I perceived it while reading the book. You decide for your own when you read it.

Thank you.
Profile Image for Philipp.
632 reviews188 followers
February 11, 2021

I slept and dreamt
that life was joy.
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked - and behold,
duty was joy.

Three lectures from 1946 on the 'meaning' of life. If you've read Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning you will recognise a lot of what you're reading here, but it's compressed, and the main goal is different.

Man's Search focuses on how identifying meaning in life can elevate a person. The question of meaning is here too, but Frankl focuses more on how meaning can be found exactly, rather than focus on the positive outcomes of meaning.

In a nutshell: there is no purpose but the purpose that is given to you. Life is asking you, and you have to answer. Finding that meaning is a burden but one you have power over. You can see the concentration camp influence here - the more difficult life becomes, the more meaningful. Illness is not a lost of meaning, it is something meaningful, illness challenges you, and if you answer the challenge right you'll come out a bigger person. There is joy and happiness in life, but you cannot force these, there's no point in having joy and happiness as goals in itself, that's not possible as joy and happiness are outcomes that arise by themselves. As you create, as you 'open your door outwards', as you work, as you react to the challenges life throws at you, you'll find your meaning.

No talking, no lectures can help us get any further - there is only one thing left for us to do: to act; namely, to act in our everyday lives.
Profile Image for Shane.
Author 11 books264 followers
September 1, 2020
This small book is a collection of three lectures that Victor Frankl delivered in 1946, after his liberation from four years spent in various concentration camps.

Frankl, a psychotherapist by profession, was interned in 1941, along with his parents and pregnant wife. Separated from his loved ones, he cherished the hope that the family would be re-united one day, and that hope sustained him. Upon his liberation, he discovered that they had all perished. Hope postponed is destructive, he concludes, and is glad he held on to his dreams for life on the outside until the war ended.

Frankl’s three pillars of the branch of psychiatry he developed, later to be named logotherapy, play out in this book. They are also expanded upon in his masterpiece Man’s Search For Meaning. The three pillars are:

1) Actions: meaningful acts that outlive us, whether that is in creating art, invention or in social acts of good.
2) Love – loving people and having people who love you.
3) Suffering – this provides meaning to our lives through lived experience and should be embraced, not avoided.

He spends a lot of time on Suffering, something he endured a lot of in the camps. He recounts anecdotes of camp experiences that support his principles. Suffering is unique to each individual, some have more, some less, but always in the right doses to extract meaning from each individual’s life. Given his embrace of Suffering as a giver of meaning, he is a strong opponent of Suicide and Euthanasia – we each have to “die our own death.”

Part of his psychology of the concentration camp also involves a reflection on the collective guilt that hounds survivors. He concedes that the best and most talented people died in the camps, and the survivors were just the lucky ones. The collective guilt rising from this incarceration spurred survivors to spread the word and educate those who weren’t affected or pretended that “they didn’t know.” He also sadly concedes that many survivors forgot this unwritten oath once life returned to normal.

Frankl’s work is an antidote to those facing difficult or end-of-life situations.
Profile Image for Peter.
21 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2020
Appropriate read during this pandemic. It’s a quick read on finding meaning in any circumstance and living life fully. The book is three lectures given shortly after Frankl’s liberation from concentration camps and before writing his more famous “Man’s Search for Meaning.” His writing is surprisingly upbeat and engaging.
Profile Image for Caro.
165 reviews2 followers
October 3, 2020
"I slept and dreamt thay life was a joy. I awoke and saw thay life was DUTY. I worked- and behold duty was joy" - Rabindranath Tagore

"Happiness should not and must not and can NEVER be a goal, but only an outcome: the outcome of fulfillment."

3 main ways to find fulfillment:
1. Creating a work (art, labor of love etc)
2. Appreciating nature/art/loving people
3. By adapting to difficult situations in life

To find your meaning of life is to live your life. Shift your mentality from asking the world "what is the use of this life?" To "what is my purpose in life?" And you can only answer that by living your life. Suicide is not an answer and can never solve problem.
Profile Image for MonoNoAware.
187 reviews29 followers
March 15, 2022
เหมือนจะอ่านยากหน่อย เพราะไม่ใช่ฮาวทูทั่วไป แต่เป็นปาฐกถาของจิตแพทย์ชาวออสเตรียที่ได้รับการปล่อยตัวจากค่ายกักกันนาซี เนื้อหาจึงเกี่ยวเนื่องกับผู้ที่ต้องเผชิญความทุกข์อย่างแสนสาหัสในสงครามครั้งนั้น แต่หนังสือก็ทำให้เห็นว่าแม้ชีวิตเราจะเผชิญความโหดร้ายเพียงใด แต่อย่าสูญสิ้นความหวัง เพราะวันหนึ่งเราจะกลับมาผลิบานอีกครั้ง
Profile Image for Tsvetelina Mareva.
254 reviews77 followers
January 20, 2021
Много е вдъхновяващ Франкъл!
В книгата има фотография, на която е сниман как катери връх в Алпите на 70-год. възраст. На 67 години взема първите си часове по пилотиране. Освен всички тези екстремни хобита, се е занимавал и с композиране на музика и с какво ли още не. Много ми допадна теорията му за предимствата на дилетанството и колко е хубаво то всъщност.

Наистина е изумително как се съхранява чувството за хумор при житейските обстоятелства, съпътствали Франкъл...

"И фармакопсихиатрията може да се обясни с помощта на вицове. Войник от SS седи във влака срещу евреин. Евреинът вади една херинга и я захапва, а после отново я увива и я прибира.
"Защо я прибрахте?", попитал войникът от SS.
"В главата ѝ е мозъкът, ще го занеса на децата си, защото като го изядат, ще станат по-умни".
"Ще ми продадете ли главата на херингата?"
"Защо да не Ви я продам?"
"Една марка."
"Ето Ви една марка" - и войникът изял главата на рибата.
След пет минути започнал да ругае: "Ти, еврейска свиньо, цялата херинга струва десет пфенига, а ти ми продаде главата за една марка?"
Евреинът отвърнал спокойно: "Виждате ли, вече действа."
Profile Image for Петър Панчев.
820 reviews125 followers
April 5, 2021
В търсене на смисъл
(Цялото ревю е тук: https://knijenpetar.wordpress.com/202...)

Не съм сигурен каква е причината да проявя интерес към тази автобиографична книга. Може би заради преживяванията на Франкъл в нацистки лагери, или просто заради личността му, която се свързва основно с логотерапията. През последните години все казвах за „Човекът в търсене на смисъл“: „Прегледайте тази книга, не съм срещал отрицателни отзиви“ – като препоръка в сектор Психология. А аз съм чел само откъси, които явно не са ме накарали да продължа. Сега знам, че ще я прочета точно заради „Да! на живота въпреки всичко“ („Леге Артис“, 2020, с превод на Силвия Василева и Боян Цонев). Човек би търсил в една автобиография интересни и любопитни факти за дадената личност, би следвал „линията на времето“ страница след страница, докато си създаде кристално ясна картина за човека. С Виктор Франкъл не се получи точно така. Казвам това в положителен смисъл. Той може да си води записки и да е прецизен във всяко отношение към работата си, но когато говори, сякаш всичко от тази предварителна подготовка престава да има значение. Виждали ли сте човек, който постоянно надни��а в записките си, за да не пропусне нещо? Франкъл говори без подобна поддръжка. И неговата автобиография никак не е последователна (в повечето случаи), но ми направи изключително впечатление.
(Продължава в блога: https://knijenpetar.wordpress.com/202...)
May 11, 2023
Big fan of everything Viktor Frankl wrote. Only complaint about this book is that people tend to become concerned about you when they see you reading a book with a title like “Yes to Life: In spite of everything”
Profile Image for Spens (Sphynx Reads).
516 reviews18 followers
September 18, 2022
I found this collection of lectures to be thought-provoking and I highlighted quite a few passages. I really appreciated how well Frankl explains his points regarding finding meaning in life even amidst the suffering it inevitably brings. That said I didn't find this quite as impactful as Man's Search For Meaning. Still a good read though.
Profile Image for Makmild.
518 reviews106 followers
March 22, 2022
การที่พวกเขาจะมีชีวิตอยู่ต่อไปนั้นมีความหมายอยู่จริง ๆ หรือเปล่า และมันคุ้มค่ากับการที่พวกเขาจะต้องเอาชนะความเหนื่อยล้านี้หรือไม่ สิ่งที่จำเป็นสำหรับคนกลุ่มนี้คือคำตอบของคำถามเรื่องความหมายของชีวิต

เราเป็นคนที่สงสัยเรื่องชีวิตมาตั้งแต่เด็กๆ (ตามประสาเด็กเนิร์ดชอบอ่านหนังสือ) ว่าเราเกิดมาทำไม ด้วยความอยากรู้อยากเห็นและอยากเข้าใจที่ทางของตนในโลก แต่พอโตมาสู้ชีวิตแต่ชีวิตสู้กลับ คำถามที่ว่า เราเกิดมาทำไม มันไม่ได้เปี่ยมไปด้วยพลังใจอย่างนั้นแล้ว แต่เป็นความหมายที่ไม่เข้าใจว่าถ้าชีวิตมันเศร้าและทุกข์ขนาดนี้ เราจะเกิดมาทำไม มันมีความหมายอะไรอยู่งั้นหรือ

วิคเตอร์คือจิตแพทย์ผู้ผ่านค่ายกักกันที่โหดร้ายที่สุดในโลกมา หลังจากที่ออกมาจากค่ายกักกันที่ริดรอนความเป็นมนุษย์ไปจนสิ้น เขาก็พบว่าชีวิตที่เหลือรอดมานั้น บุคคลที่เขารักยิ่งได้ลาโลกไปแล้ว อะไรที่ทำให้วิคเตอร์ยังยืนหยัดและมีพลังมากพอที่จะหายใจต่อไปบนโลกใบนี้ได้ ถ้าไม่ใช่เพราะเขาเข้าใจสิ่งที่เรียกว่าความหมายของชีวิต?

หากเราต้องการความหมายของชีวิต เล่มนี้ไม่มีตอบให้ แต่เราจะได้คำตอบอะไรบางอย่างที่สงสัยมานาน โดยเฉพาะเรื่องที่เกี่ยวกับความทุกข์ และความว่างเปล่าของชีวิต

สำหรับเล่มนี้เนื่องจากเป็นปาฐกถาของวิคเตอร์ ไม่ใช่หนังสือที่วิคเตอร์เขียนออกมาเอง จึงกระชับ รวบรัด แต่ไม่ได้ทำให้อ่านง่ายขึ้นแต่อย่างใด 55555555555555555 เอาจริงๆ อ่านยากเพราะต้องใช้พลังในการอ่านตีความเยอะ เรื่อง Man's Search for Meaning นี้ยังอ่านง่ายกว่าเลยค่ะ 5555

ใดๆ ก็ตามเป็นอีกเล่มที่แนะนำค่ะ
Profile Image for Story.
870 reviews3 followers
October 14, 2022
This is the first English translation of three talks that Viktor Frankl gave after his release from a concentration camp, post WWII. He speaks of a community of camp survivors who, after their ordeal, chose to celebrate life in every way they could--to say yes to life, in spite of everything they had lost and endured. Frankl and some of his fellow survivors found meaning in life through creating that meaning; that is, they focused on finding meaning in their work, in art, nature and music and by committing to adapting to whatever circumstance's life or fate threw their way. They did not let themselves become disenchanted with life for that leads to a sense of meaningless and despair.

Frankl believed that even in dire circumstances, such as being interned in a concentration camp, we retain the freedom to adapt to our environment. We can choose to suppress our negativity and to have hope for the future. Life is the question and the action we take to make life meaningful is the answer. And those actions and answers (whether we choose to make them positive or negative) will radiate out into the world after we are gone.

Profile Image for Cav.
701 reviews101 followers
November 24, 2021
"Many of you who have not lived through the concentration camp will be astonished and will ask me how a human being can endure all the things I have been talking about. I assure you, the person who has experienced and survived all of that is even more amazed than you are! But do not forget this: the human psyche seems to behave in some ways like a vaulted arch—an arch that has become dilapidated can be supported by placing an extra load on it..."

Yes to Life was a great short read. It is my second book from the author, after his famous 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning, which I loved, and put on my "favorites" shelf.

Author Viktor Emil Frankl M.D., Ph.D., was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of Existential Analysis, the "Third Viennese School" of psychotherapy. Frankl lost his pregnant wife, his mother, father, and brother to the Nazi concentration camps of WW2.

Viktor E. Frankl:

The book has a very good intro, written in the modern time by Daniel Goleman. Goleman recounts Frankl's story, as well as outlines the scope of the material presented here. Goleman writes this of the source material:
"It's a minor miracle this book exists. The lectures that form the basis of it were given in 1946 by the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl a scant eleven months after he was liberated from a labor camp where, a short time before, he had been on the brink of death. The lectures, edited into a book by Frankl, were first published in German in 1946 by the Vienna publisher Franz Deuticke. The volume went out of print and was largely forgotten until another publisher, Beltz, recovered the book and proposed to republish it. Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything has never before been published in English."

Frankl's writing in the book proper is mostly philosophical musings on the meaning of life. Frankl details the chronically ill, as well as those afflicted with mental illness. Frankl was a remarkable man in many ways, and his writing here was excellent. Instead of going over what he covers, it would be more apropos to include a few direct quotes, since the book contained so many great quotables.

Frankl talks about the will to live:
"One could also say that our human existence can be made meaningful “to the very last breath”; as long as we have breath, as long as we are still conscious, we are each responsible for answering life’s questions. This should not surprise us once we recall the great fundamental truth of being human—being human is nothing other than being conscious and being responsible!"

And the inherent value that life provides to us all, despite our circumstances:
"Let us imagine a man who has been sentenced to death and, a few hours before his execution, has been told he is free to decide on the menu for his last meal. The guard comes into his cell and asks him what he wants to eat, offers him all kinds of delicacies; but the man rejects all his suggestions. He thinks to himself that it is quite irrelevant whether he stuffs good food into the stomach of his organism or not, as in a few hours it will be a corpse. And even the feelings of pleasure that could still be felt in the organism’s cerebral ganglia seem pointless in view of the fact that in two hours they will be destroyed forever.
But the whole of life stands in the face of death, and if this man had been right, then our whole lives would also be meaningless, were we only to strive for pleasure and nothing else—preferably the most pleasure and the highest degree of pleasure possible. Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; thus the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which now seems obvious to us."

This quote also resonated with me. Frankl talks about our enduring legacy:
"Certainly, our life, in terms of the biological, the physical, is transitory in nature. Nothing of it survives—and yet how much remains! What remains of it, what will remain of us, what can outlast us, is what we have achieved during our existence that continues to have an effect, transcending us and extending beyond us. The effectiveness of our life becomes incorporeal and in that way it resembles radium, whose physical form is also, during the course of its “lifetime” (and radioactive materials are known to have a limited lifetime) increasingly converted into radiation energy, never to return to materiality. What we “radiate” into the world, the “waves” that emanate from our being, that is what will remain of us when our being itself has long since passed away..."


I really enjoyed Yes to Life. Despite this book being an amalgamation of a few lectures, the end result was still very coherent and impactful.
I would recommend it to anyone interested.
5 stars.
Profile Image for Nat.
23 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2022
ไม่เคยรู้สึกเสียดายแม้แต่วินาทีเดียวที่ได้อ่านหนังสือของ Victor E. Frankl ขอบคุณที่สนพ.นำมาแปลไทย มันดีมากๆ อยากให้ทุกคนได้อ่าน เนื้อหายังเป็นจริงในปัจจุบันสำหรับเรา

เนื้อหาหนัก ไม่เบาสมอง ตอนอ่านต้องมีสติและหัวโล่งๆ หนังสือเหมาะกับช่วงเวลาที่สิ้นหวัง(เช่นคนไทยในยุคนี้)
ข้อความ(ที่เราคิดว่า)แทนทั้งเล่มนี้ได้ คือ "ผู้ที่รู้ว่ามีชีวิตอยู่ไปทำไม จะสามารถทานทนได้ไม่ว่าจะอย่างไร" เป็นคำกล่าวของนีตซ์เชที่ผู้เขียนยกขึ้นมาในเล่ม คนเขียนจะบอกเราว่า ในเวลาที่บัดซบหดหู่นั้นต้องมีทัศนคติแบบไหนจึงจะรู้สึกมีความหวัง และอยากมีชีวิตอยู่ต่อ

แอบหงุดหงิดตอนอ่าน เพราะเนื้อหาโดดไปมา โยงหลายเรื่องนิดนึง (บางทีงงว่าพูดถึงอะไรอยู่นะ) แต่ยังพอจับประเด็นได้ ภาษาที่แปลไทยมาค่อนข้างทางการ(น่าจะเป็นเพราะต้นฉบับเป็นปาฐกถา) และมีศัพท์เฉพาะ เล่มบางมาก คิอว่าแปปเดียวคงอ่านจบแต่ไม่เลย แต่ก็จบจนได้!

หากอ่านเล่มนี้แล้วยังงงๆแนะนำ ชีวิตไม่ไร้ความหมาย (Man's search for meaning) ผู้เขียนคนเดียวกัน
Profile Image for Christina.
48 reviews53 followers
May 11, 2021
This book should be added to the curriculum of every student worldwide. What an amazing person Viktor Frankl was! Despite having been incarcerated in a concentration camp during Nazi Germany, he researched and published the same material before and after. Think about that. This book offers theses why you could make a choice to say yes to life and plays with common arguments as to why "there is (no) point" in life. You get to know some of the experiences he or friends made in the camps, but that isn't the point. Viktor Frankl demonstrates that you can say yes to your life, even if you are tortured, if even if you are unbelievably sick or alone or poor or whatever your fate may be. Having just now put this book down I feel inspired, sentimental and like I just gained a whole lot of strength. In the end, it is the little impact you have in your life and your fate, and not some kind of grandiose fantasy of becoming rich and famous that our neo-capitalist societies brainwash us to believe. It is paramount to find your own purpose, and that's good, and that's enough.
Profile Image for Anupriya Singhal.
116 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2021
Its such a coincidence that my last book of 2020 (The Midnight Library)& my first book of 2021 both zero in on the meaning of life and how to navigate through fate, destiny, circumstances and most importantly defining yourself in the process. And needless to say both are highlights of of my reading shelf in recent times.

Victor E. Frankl has done it again. He has simplified what does it mean to possess or rather live human spirit. I would urge everyone to read Man’s Search for Meaning before you read this one as this one is more academic. But read them back to back & I think you will definitely find some perspective.

What blows my mind is that everything he has said & written referring to the holocaust is true even today. The below is true for all wars, all civil unrests, all religious battles, all oppressions & even the recent pandemic - even after 75+ years..... its amazing!!!

“The past few years have certainly disenchanted us, but they have also shown us that what is human is still valid; they have taught us that it is all a question of the individual human being. After all, in the end, what was left was the human being! Because it was the human being that survived amidst all the filth of the recent past. And equally it was the human being that was left in the experiences of the concentration camps.”
Profile Image for Patty.
22 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2020
I remember reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” in one sitting on a bench on Bournemouth Pier, my eyes hot, my brain ready to burst out of my skull with its power and revelation. It’s hard to believe that a book about the Holocaust would be one of my top life-affirming reads ever. I felt full after, my heart grown by sizes, with a palpable sense of hope. Its basic message was that if you have something to live for, you can overcome anything; its home truths felt like voids in me filled.
In these lectures, Frankl expands on the meaning and purpose of being, loving and suffering, even when you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, with a wisdom, compassion and clarity that is nigh unparalleled. I found myself highlighting so many passages in my copy that it would have been easier to just highlight the “unimportant” stuff – of which there is none, really.
It’s a book of hope, and it will be a tonic to so many. I’ve already bought a stack to give to others.
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