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Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

This is one of those books that’s been recommended to me so many times that I felt a huge sigh of relief when I made a decision to download Man’s Search For Meaning and listen to it.

Knowing the premise of this book always made me hesitate because I didn’t want to read or listen to another account of the horrific tragedies of the Holocaust. I didn’t think my heart could take it.

What pushed me over the edge to get it is that I realized I’d gain more mentally and spiritually by reading it (or, in my case, listening to it).

And I definitely did.

I loved how Frankl took what he went through in the concentration camp and turned it into a book with so much depth and meaning.

One of the things that stood out for me was when he talked about the great success of the book and how he didn’t want to put his name on it. He didn’t want all the accolades because that’s not why he wrote the book. Wow, I totally get that. What an amazingly humble man.

His goal for the book wasn’t success. It was that he wanted to help other people find meaning in their lives, especially people who find themselves in despair. This is so fitting because he was an Austrian Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist.

Then he quotes – “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” ~ Nietzsche.

What I truly related to in this book is when I’m faced with something, and I can’t change it, the only thing I can do about it is to change myself. It took me a long time to get to this place. I had to get sober and do A LOT of work on myself to realize that when I change my view, my perspective, that’s when the magic happens. And that’s honestly one of the core themes of this book.

There were so many inspiring quotes, stories, and more. Check out below for more info and for my favorite quotes. 

A Book Summary to Inspire You To Read It!

Why Read This Book:

This is a memoir and a philosophical book that details Frankl’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor and the development of his concept of logotherapy, a form of existential psychotherapy. It’s about how he finds meaning in all he suffered as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. His search for meaning is what kept him alive, even when his situation was incredibly dark, with death all around him. It’s a powerful and inspiring book that will give you a hopeful perspective on the human experience. It’s about finding meaning in the face of adversity.

Who Ought to Read this Book and Why: 

If you’ve struggled with some adversity, tragedy, or life-altering situation and you’re trying to find some meaning, this is definitely for you. Even if you haven’t suffered a tragedy, this book will guide you to connect with your inner self and maybe even inspire you to share with others. Frankl’s view is the primary motivator in life is the search for meaning and that this search for meaning is what gives life purpose and significance.

Things You Will Discover:

You can find meaning in your life through these three different paths:

  1. Through your work
  2. Through your relationships with others.
  3. Through facing and overcoming suffering. 

He argues that the search for meaning is not an intellectual pursuit but rather an active process that requires effort and self-reflection.

He believes that suffering can be an opportunity for growth and personal development and that facing and overcoming difficult challenges can bring a deeper sense of meaning to one’s life.

Here are five things you might discover from reading this book:

Life’s Purpose: At the book’s core is that life has meaning under any circumstance, even the most miserable ones. Frankl suggests that you don’t get to choose your difficulties, but you can choose how to cope with them, find meaning in them, and move forward with renewed purpose.

The Concept of Logotherapy: Frankl’s book introduces his psychotherapeutic method, logotherapy, which is founded on the belief that human nature is motivated by the search for life’s purpose. He argues that the primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud argued, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

Freedom of Choice: One of the significant lessons from Frankl’s book is his assertion that, regardless of circumstances, we always have the freedom to choose our attitudes and reactions. Despite being a prisoner in concentration camps, he consciously chose to find hope and meaning in his life.

Survival and Suffering: Those who found meaning in their suffering were more likely to survive the horrific experiences of the concentration camps. Frankl notes that when you have a clear ‘why’ to live for, you can endure almost any ‘how.’

The Importance of Responsibility: Frankl underlines the notion that you are responsible for interpreting and finding meaning in your lives. He believes that life constantly poses questions to us, and your responsibility is to answer these questions through your actions and attitudes.

Some of The Powerful Stories:

The Story of Otto: Otto, a fellow prisoner, dreamt of the war ending on a specific date, but when liberation didn’t come, he lost hope and died soon after, showing the power of hope and despair.

The Woman Seeing Chestnut Tree: A dying woman found peace in viewing a chestnut tree outside her window, emphasizing that finding meaning, even in death, is essential for mental health.

The Choice to Maintain Dignity: Despite being stripped of his clothes, Frankl imagined himself lecturing about his experiences in the future, illustrating how perspective and chosen reactions can affect resilience.

The Story of Love: Frankl endured suffering by conversing with his wife in his imagination, concluding that love transcends physical presence and provides life’s meaning.

The Death March: During a forced march in freezing conditions, Frankl focused on a beautiful sunrise and thoughts of his wife, demonstrating the human ability to choose perspective despite adversity.

Inspiring Quotes:

The Last Human Freedom:
“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.”

The Only Thing You Can Truly Change:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

What’s Your Why?
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

When Abnormal Is Normal:
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

What Love Is:
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love, he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.” 

The Meaning of Sacrifice:
“In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

Living a Second Time:
“So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

Don’t Judge Another Unless…
“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation, he might not have done the same.”

Love Is All There Is:
“For the first time in my life, I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – is that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.

What Life Expects of You:
“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation but in the right action and in right conduct.

Stop Carrying Your Grudges:
“I do not forget any good deed done to me & I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

About the Author – Viktor Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997) was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who founded logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that describes a search for a life’s meaning as the central human motivational force. Logotherapy is part of existential and humanistic psychology theories. Logotherapy was promoted as the third school of Viennese Psychotherapy after those established by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Frankl published 39 books. The autobiographical Man’s Search for Meaning, a best-selling book, is based on his experiences in various Nazi concentration camps.

Where I Would Recommend Getting Your Copy:

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Other Books About Writing I’d Recommend: 

Soulfully Yours,

Shannon McCaffery

Shannon McCaffery

Strategic Marketing Coach & Consultant

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Mans Search for Meaning

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl


Hey there, I'm Shannon! Being a voracious reader and passionate about learning, I started this site in the hopes of sharing my thoughts and my love of inspiring nonfiction books that can help you. It's kind of like Buddha meets business. I truly hope you enjoy!

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