One of the most significant books of the last century is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. The author endured some of the most horrific experiences in the concentration camps ran by the Nazi troops. For three years, he was imprisoned in the Dachau and Auschwitz camps. During his time there, he struggled to survive and recorded some empowering philosophies. These were later compiled into this book. Viktor Frankl observed and understood the potential of a human being's ability to survive and his book is an account of his perspective.
The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 covers his observations in the Nazi concentration camps. He indicates the internal and external conditions that would pressure the prisoners. In this part of the book, he emphasizes how hope literally kept people alive and a lack of it resulted in death. Pat 2 of the book explains his own theory of psychology that he has named logotherapy. In this theory, Viktor indicates that the purpose of life should be a search for meaning. Any other purpose is pointless. The author indicates that anybody who has something to live for will survive anything to achieve his goal. Here are some other lessons from the book Man's Search for Meaning.
There is only one thing that cannot be taken away from you, your attitude
In the Nazi concentration camps, Viktor observed how Hitler's troops would dehumanize the prisoners. They would torture, humiliate, insult, beat, defile and amputate the prisoners. The suffering had no bounds. It was literally hell on earth for these prisoners. Many of them gave up and died. The few who survived did so due to one thing, they did not allow the guards to take away their positive attitudes. They did not give up hope that one day they would leave the prison. One of these prisoners was Viktor himself. The thoughts of his wife and a better life kept him alive. This positive attitude saved his life. Thus, no matter how hard life gets, do not allow the bad times to take your good attitude away from you.
Mental agony is the most hurtful kind of pain
Hitler's policy of imprisoning Jews and other minorities in Germany was unreasonable. Due to his unwavering, misguided belief, people such as Viktor found themselves in the concentration camps. Due to a lack of empathy for them, these prisoners were subjected to tremendous cruelty. Adults and children all suffered the terrible conditions of the concentration camps such as Auschwitz. For these prisoners, the most potent pain was that they could not understand why this injustice was being conducted against them yet they were innocent. This pain was mental and ravaged them more than any physical one. Viktor wrote this in his book so as to counsel us against inflicting mental pain.
The way to achieve success is to avoid thinking about it and surrender to a vision
This is one of the most interesting lessons from Viktor Frankl in this book. He indicates that if you focus on making success your target, you are more likely to miss it. The accomplished author indicates that success is like happiness, it cannot be pursued but must be a by-product of your actions. When you dedicate your time and effort to a vision that is more significant than yourself, success becomes a by-product of this dedication. You have to let happiness happen in your life. This is done by not caring about it and just letting things be as you pursue your vision. This same principle applies to success. Simply follow your conscience and carry out your tasks with faithfulness in pursuit of your vision. Eventually, you will find success following you everywhere you go.
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Your search for meaning in life can cause you mental tension
One of the side effects of pursuing meaning in your life is mental tension. It can bother you and cause you to feel disturbed. The author indicates that these feelings are precisely what is required to keep you faithfully on the path to find your purpose. Finding meaning in life is the most motivational condition to have in your life. It can help you to get through literally any suffering that you face.
You can find salvation in love
While in the concentration camps, Viktor Frankl was subjected to the same inhuman treatment as all the other prisoners. He was overworked and fed too little food. To survive, he ignored this suffering and occupied his mind with vivid thoughts of his wife. She had been separated from him by the Nazis and taken to a female concentration camp. Even when he was deprived of sleep, exhausted and hungry, he kept his mind on his wife and this helped him to endure the suffering. The guards in the concentration camps were sadists and tried to break him in any way possible. Despite their actions, Frank survived because the image of his wife stayed on his mind and her love for him warmed his heart. In this experience, the author learned that love can save your life.
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You can adapt and get used to literally any condition
We often think of our bodies as being delicate and easily broken down. According to Viktor, they are a lot tougher than we think. He endured a terrifying journey into the concentration camps. During this journey, he was stripped down and shaved entirely. All his property was burned to ashes and even his name was taken away from him. It was replaced with a tattoo. Frank was one of the lucky few who actually got into the camps. This is because those who looked weak did not even make it into the camps. They were sent right into the gas chambers. He was separated from his wife and did not know what happened to her until the war was over. In the camps, he was overworked, fed too little, exposed to disease and experienced next to no personal hygiene. Despite all this, he did not get sick or suffer debilitating injury to his body. His body adapted to the camp conditions and this made a major contribution to his ability to once again taste freedom. No matter where you find yourself, understand that your body and your mind can survive anything.
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The Important Take Away
Viktor Frankl is one of the most respected authors in the world. His experiences in the concentration camps ran by the Nazis transformed him into a motivational speaker and acclaimed psychologist. His logotherapy has assisted many to cope with traumatising situations in their lives. The lessons above are from his book entitled Man's Search for Meaning. They can guide you to find a direction for your life.
You can get Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl here.