Spending less time on social media allows us to read more books. Especially when one has existential questions about life. Books like Viktor Frankl’s – Man’s Search for Meaning, take you into the unyielding mind of a Jewish prisoner patiently defying a looming sense of despair.
How does someone in a Nazi German concentration camp surrounded by the doom of impeding death & inevitable mass-extermination preserve hope? Surely there can’t be a greater setting thats festers cynicism & pessimism towards life. And yet, Viktor Frankl survived this drear by advancing logo-therapy, the field of ‘healing through meaning’ and thrived for 92 fulfilling years, creating a legacy that anyone can tap into for life.
Here are 7 lessons from Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.
1. Most of us harbor regrets. But the beauty of life is that every day presents a second chance. Mourn of-course your mis-steps, but inch forward still; Knowing that life is forgiving, and that each sunrise a new try, is comforting.
2. We are easy to judge. Period. Look at how little attention she gives the home-front. Look at the clothes she wears. Their parenting skills are appalling. She barely cooks and relies too heavily on house-help. They didn’t spend enough on the wedding. Why does she travel so much for work when she has such young kids? <Insert every judgement you have ever passed> Next time, take a pause, and refrain.
3. We are instructed diligently by society and advertising that happiness is a coveted destination. A result reached after much hardship and compliance. And so we slog. As children to excel at school and college. Then work our way up at work. Acquire material possessions worthy of a successful image. Marry for societal acceptance. Have children because that’s what naturally follows. And instruct your children to follow the cycle all over again. Discounting entirely the possibility that happiness may actually be in the journey itself. To wake up each day with a smile on our face. To let the butterflies of joy draw us in any ebullient direction they please.
4. Despite what we may think, there isn’t enough hatred in this world to make a dent in the bounty of love that flows and flourishes. The love of parents. The love between friends. The love of your children. The love of your countrymen. The love of your enemies. The love of your significant others. The love of complete strangers. The love of animals. The love that makes the world move. With so much love, it’s hard to imagine harboring a speck of hate in our hearts. So shed the hate and envy slowly. Love more.
5. What is life? The eternal perplexing question that at some point each one of us asks. At times softly under our breath, other times in screaming anguish of desperation. Literature, poetry, religion, music, cinema, science, culture, civilizations, and everything else can’t provide a singular convincing answer. We all live in auto-pilot without ever exploring the possible meaning. Eventually, we each make up our own meaning and that is fine, as long as we have one.
6. We can’t control what happens in life, but what is in our control is our attitude. If we are met with hatred, we can choose to respond with love. If we are dished out unfairness, we can choose to take the moral high ground. If we are faced with failure, we can choose to learn and rise. If we are served humiliation, we can choose to stand tall. As humans, we can choose our attitude.
7. We must be the change we want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi and Viktor Frankl were on-point. Change what is in our control instead of fussing over a situation we have zero control over! Stuck in traffic? Listen to an audiobook. Over-enthusiastic nosy society? Follow your own bliss. Credit stealing co-workers? Smile and persist still. Any situation we find ourselves in, trust me there is a way to challenge ourselves to navigate gracefully.
Viktor Frankl provides numerous such gems for our soul. Here is hoping we all find our meaning.
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