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My thoughts on Man's search for meaning book by Viktor E Frankl

This book has been in my Kindle reading list for a while. I finally picked it up late last month. This is by far the toughest book I read. There are lot of deep philosophical thoughts in the book that kept coming at regular intervals forcing me to take a pause and reflect. Some of them were difficult to understand and internalize. Words do little justice to the physical and emotional struggles that a prison has to go through at the concentration camp. Reflecting on situations like that, I feel so grateful to everything I have in my life.

Some of my key takeaways from this book.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

The why gives the meaning behind everything we do. The weaker that meaning is, lesser motivated we’re to do that thing.

They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Between the stimulus and the response, there exists a window where one has the freedom to choose. We just don’t realize its existence in many cases and fall victim to our preprogrammed responses based on past experiences. Be it anger, frustration, anxiety, joy, elation, disappointment or ego - putting a pause between the observation and expression gives a great deal of control in our response.

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

This is so true. We get bored to death if we are always in a tensionless state. But to strive and struggle for something worthwhile is not easy either. To identify that worthy goal itself is a great hunt.

Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.

This resonated strongly with me. Any form of pleasure - money, sex, alcohol, entertainment - loses its meaning when the pleasure itself is pursued. Instead, it must ensue.

The words from this book kept ringing in my head for few days even after I had completed the book. I moved the book back into my reading list to pick it up for a second read sometime soon.