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BOOK REVIEW Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

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Real Deal Denver

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Finished the book last night.

A very powerful read, from his camp experience to the psychoanalyst portions in the back half demonstrating the importance of MEANING in one's life.

I thought the existential vacuum that modern society is now dealing with was spot on. It explains depression, addiction, drug use, and stupid allegiances to stupid entertainment like sports and HBO dramas -- people are simply searching for MEANING in their tired little existential vacuum of meaningless.

Some notable things for me...

The idea of marching ten miles in blizzard conditions with no shoes and tattered rags for clothing was unbearable for me. I can't imagine such horror. The great detail on how the prisoners would vie for an INTERIOR space in the march just to be shielded from the weather elements and maybe grab a degree or two of increased temperature.

The story about the grieving widow who missed his spouse... when the widow realized that his suffering spared his wife from suffering the same grief, his suffering diminished. By giving meaning to the suffering, he reduced it.

Paradoxical intention -- doing the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. The story of the boy who stuttered and the only time he did NOT stutter was when he TRIED to stutter. Interesting! This parallels how when we try to fall asleep we often can't -- our intention forces anxiety. Yet, if we try to stay awake, we might be better inclined to sleep because the anxiety is lessened and our intention isn't forcing the issue.

The story about his camp friend who was near death and had a dream they would be liberated by X date. That guy survived up until that DATE and died a day later. This was a powerful demonstration on how important it is to have a HOPE, a VISION, and MEANING for living.

This book hardened my confirmation bias for my own work where I preach the importance of having a MEANING and PURPOSE (and entire section in Unscripted) and that even in failure, striving for something better than a mundane pencil-pushing existence can bring meaning to one's life.

For instance, DeMarco's selling a dream is often a negative critique for anyone who writes books about living extraordinarily.

What those critics fail to understand is that HAVING A DREAM and actively PURSUING it, is the DREAM itself.

It is the MEANING.

It is the PURPOSE.

All things in life can having MEANING and our minds are the conductor.

It is only when life loses its meaning is when depression and escapes are sought.

I thought the book gave a powerful reflection in today's culture, from how most people live meaningless lives and can't see the joy in anything -- art, nature, a hot shower, a kiss from a loved one. Instead, they're on the internet losing their minds that Game of Thrones Season 8 sucked.

I can't imagine my life being so empty that the best use of my time is crying about a baseball game.

Anyhow, a great book -- even if you don't agree with the meaning aspect of it, read it to grab some perspective on how GREAT you have it.
This synopsis is so so so damn good that I am going far above just liking it (I actually put love on it).

I'm printing this out and including it in the books that I will buy and gift.

I have not read the book yet - but I will. And I know a few people that need this book and it will change their lives.

I don't know where MJ got his writing ability - but I'll say this much. It will live on for many years as an insert in this book, and who knows how many people it will help!
 

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elusive97

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Wow, some of these replies have me feeling all sorts of ways! I've struggled with depression since around age 9 and always felt my life was meaningless. I thought it wasn't important so fought through the feelings determined to find success. It helped me focus on myself and distract from naysayers, so I'm thankful for that. I found success and lost myself in it, then when I lost my business I lost everything. It's sad to still feel the same way I did as a child and still struggle with the same thoughts, and even worse now I've experienced failure. In fact, as a teen at least I had tons of ideas and some stability.

I've been trying to think about meaning but it's just too difficult. I don't want children, I just don't have that instinct, and I've struggled with finding somewhere to fit in. My mum would tell me “life sucks, and then you die” but the older I get the more I consider that life in itself is Hell. The worries I had about life when I was younger disappeared for a while but then manifested in reality.
 

elusive97

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I feel the point of logotherapy and finding meaning is not for happiness or contentment. It is for fulfillment.

Entrepreneurs don’t need happiness. We are like quarterbacks; satisfied to win and pissed off like crazy to lose.
That's SO true! I found a level of happiness in the satisfaction of winning, but I still felt depressed. Depressed with financial stability and the ability to do what they want (and keep winning!) is a million times more of an improvement than being a depressed person who keeps losing. I'd like to work on my happiness too, but even that is reliant itself on winning.
 

GoodluckChuck

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I see a lot of folks talking about depression and it reminds me of how I used to talk. We are all different and the meaning we give to each word is sometimes unique to us.

An example is the word depression. My girlfriend used to say "I'm depressed." When she was feeling a little anxious or down. She would say it all the time.

I was reading a book by Tony Robbins called Awaken the Giant Within and he talks about how the words we use to describe our reality define our reality.

This caused me to question what my girlfriend was saying. To me depression is when you can't get out of bed or just don't care to carry on. You have little or no hope and pretty much want to cease existing. It doesn't get much worse. Thankfully I've only felt this way a few times in my 30 years on this planet but it but it was enough to gain my own meaning of this word.

I suggested to my girlfriend that she use a different word for her feelings and leave room to feel worse. If being a little worried about work means you're depressed, then what does it mean when you are in a pit of despair and don't want to get out of bed?

I truly believe that she was making herself feel worse by declaring her feelings depression even when they were totally normal feelings that anyone would have in her situation.

Just by changing the way she defined things made her feel better. Depression is a heavy word and should not be used lightly, kind of like the word hate. That's what I think anyway

A Man's Search for Meaning taught me about what the word "meaning" actually means to me and allowed me to disconnect it from the "need" for happiness. It's made me think that happiness is a state of mind that comes and goes like excitement or sadness. It's not something you can or should want to hold onto indefinitely. The feelings we have that come and go teach us about life and guide our actions if we pay attention to them.

Meaning is something deeper that gives life the feeling of purpose that extends beyond any state of mind. You can be totally crazy and still serve a purpose, or at least feel like you do.
 

GonnaBe2020

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I've been trying to think about meaning but it's just too difficult. I don't want children, I just don't have that instinct, and I've struggled with finding somewhere to fit in. My mum would tell me “life sucks, and then you die” but the older I get the more I consider that life in itself is Hell. The worries I had about life when I was younger disappeared for a while but then manifested in reality.
I think constantly thinking and searching for "meaning" can become too abstract and probably somehow paralyzing. This works if one's a monk in a Zen monastery, but for everyday people like us ... you still need to eat, go to the dentist, buy groceries, pay bills, everyday stuff ...

I would instead recommend you to read "The Buddha, Geoff and Me" by Edward Canfor-Dumas. It's somehow about Buddhism, but it's written also in a real-life dealing with real-problems style, with bits of actionable wisdom spread throughout the book. There is just a bit of religious stuff in it, but it's not pressed that much by the author, and you're only slightly encouraged to become a Buddhist. You don't have to anyway.

Frankl's book is great, but rather on a "grand-scheme-of-things" level, this other one is more down-to-earth, do-it-now practical things. It helped me do some changes and improvements in my life at a certain point. Guess I might use a re-read myself :)
 

Lucky Lu

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Oh man, I've read this book such a long time ago that I only remember the overall feeling while going through it (I always remember how I felt, cover color and bookshelf placement). I need to read it again asap.
 

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