I’m sure you have been given loads of book recommendations over the years that you have either taken on board or left behind. Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning is a piece of literature that belongs in that first camp and I have no doubt that the other 10 million people who have read it, will agree with me. It has been spoken about as “life-changing” by many individuals I admire, and for me it has reinforced the belief that one needs to have a sense of meaning in their life to make it worth living. This links back to my earlier post on the PERMA theory, which includes purpose as one of the five crucial elements required to achieve wellbeing or happiness.

Frankl, a professor in psychology and neurology, wrote this novel based on his experiences from spending three years in Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps during World War 2. From this time, one of his biggest realisations was what keeps people living. Frankl identified that as soon as someone lost hope (a topic I will cover in more depth in the future), they were doomed. Yet, if someone had a reason to live, as in something or someone to hold onto, there was a higher probability that they could survive any condition no matter how dire.

Frankl used this logic to develop logotherapy, which encourages patients to find meaning in their life to overcome their depression or negative states of mind. For many, what keeps them living is their love for a child or a sense of purpose in life to pursue. Martin Seligman defines the meaningful life as “using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” What we find meaningful is different for everyone. Yet identifying what is most important and imagining reaching this outcome can alleviate suffering and change mindsets by instilling hope for the future. You can watch Frankl talk more on this topic here.

My copy of this book is battered, most of its pages are either doggy eared, covered with my handwritten notes or have small post-its attached to them to highlight important sections (of which there are many). This book is short yet powerful. It has a lasting impact that will keep you thinking for a long time. I can’t do it enough justice here, you will just have to find out for yourself!