Goktug Yilmaz's Reviews > Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
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it was ok
bookshelves: audio

3 Keys:
- “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” - Nietzsche
- “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.”
- People have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.

- Spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away— makes life meaningful and purposeful.
- Any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in the camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal. He needs to see sense, aim, purpose, in his life to carry on.
- A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life.
- If suffering is avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is to remove its cause, for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If, on the other hand, one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude.
- Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in the most terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
- Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. The salvation of man is through love and in love. A man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.
- A man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.
- Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.

- Focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning. Striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.
- What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
- In the modern age, no instinct tells man what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).
- Paradoxical intention: To overcome this particular fear, I usually advise the patient not to try to sleep but rather to try to do just the opposite, that is, to stay awake as long as possible. In other words, the hyper-intention to fall asleep, arising from the anticipatory anxiety of not being able to do so, must be replaced by the paradoxical intention not to fall asleep, which soon will be followed by sleep.
- Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to “be happy.” Once the reason is found, one becomes happy automatically. A human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy.

We can discover meaning in life in three different ways:
1. Creating a work or doing a deed: Achievement
2. Experiencing something or encountering someone: Experiencing something—such as goodness, truth and beauty—by experiencing nature and culture or, last but not least, by experiencing another human being in his very uniqueness—by loving him.
3. The attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering: Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.

Life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable. What matters is to make the best of any given situation.
1. Turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment
2. Deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better
3. Deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.

- Unemployment Neurosis: Being jobless was equated with being useless, and being useless was equated with having a meaningless life. Whenever I succeeded in persuading the patients to volunteer in organizations, as soon as they could fill their abundant free time with some sort of unpaid but meaningful activity—their depression disappeared although their economic situation had not changed and their hunger was the same. The truth is that man does not live by welfare alone.
- Consider a movie: It consists of thousands of individual pictures, and each of them makes sense and carries a meaning, yet the meaning of the whole film cannot be seen before its last sequence is shown. We cannot understand the whole film without having first understood each each of the individual pictures. Isn’t it the same with life? Doesn’t the final meaning of life, reveal itself, if at all, only at its end, on the verge of death?
- Learned meaninglessness: “George, you must realize that the world is a joke. There is no justice, everything is random. Only when you realize this will you understand how silly it is to take yourself seriously. There is no grand purpose in the universe. It just is. There’s no particular meaning in what decision you make today about how to act.” - George A. Sargent

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Reading Progress

September 20, 2015 – Shelved
September 20, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 8, 2017 – Shelved as: audio
September 13, 2018 – Started Reading
September 20, 2018 – Finished Reading

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