mans search for meaning

Over the years people kept suggesting I read this book, but I didn’t dare. Wayyy too emotional for me! BUT luckily after hearing recommendations over and over I went there and reading this book helped me look at life differently. It is my winner!!- the number one book that has meant the most to me in my life.


This book is a classic, written in 1946, but still has a ton of life lessons. In fact, it is among the top 10 books that have made a difference in people’s lives. Why would someone want to read about a concentration camp where 1.5 million people died?! Yikes. Well, I will tell you why… Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, spent three years as a prisoner in four different concentration camps and said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, YOUR FREEDOM TO CHOOSE HOW YOU WILL RESPOND TO THE SITUATION. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.” So if Viktor Frankl can live through one of the worst tortures in human history and find meaning in it, then certainly I can find meaning in anything I go through and make it change me for the better.

I thought it was so interesting that in the beginning, he wrote this book as an anonymous publication, using his prisoner number only. Then he realized that the book would lose half of its value without that personal touch. Viktor decided he had to have the courage to be open and refrained from deleting passages. I have felt this way about my own story and am inspired by his bravery.

I was worried about reading this book because I didn’t want images of torture in my mind that would never leave, but incredibly he focused mostly on the will to survive. It wasn’t too graphic, but I did get a picture in my mind of how awful it was– gas chambers, massacres, starvation, cruelty, and “all they possessed, literally, was our naked existence.” In the first half of the book, he talks about what it was like to be a common prisoner every day and how they had to fight each day for their existence.

In the second half of the story, Frankl talks about the psychology of this experience. This is what really hit home for me. Throughout the book, Frankl quotes the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” He uses his personal experience to prove this. He said he was always grateful for the smallest of mercies. Viktor always held a hope that one day he would see his parents, brother, and pregnant wife again. No, they all died. He proved that we cannot avoid suffering, but it is our choice how we respond. He created a theory called Logotherapy- “that man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in his life.”

If you feel you have been betrayed, failed, or heartbroken, this book will help you see your own challenges differently. He said, “Life is potentially meaningful under any condition.” I realized my life could be much harder, but no matter what happens I will always find meaning in it and keep going strong.

This book can be read in a couple of hours. I can’t think of a better use of time!

mans search for meaning