A Man’s Search for Meaning

When the world shutdown last spring, it was a shock to us all. I remember being scared about what was going to happen. 

Everything changed; No sports, no trips to the gym–things I had thought I could not live without. 

Fear of the unknown began to creep in to my thoughts.

OMG what’s next??

Is my business going to be in trouble? 

I found myself inside my own head while sitting on the couch one day. My wife reminded me that stewing in my own thoughts wouldn’t help. So, instead, I decided to listen to Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Dr. Frankl survived five concentration camps, including Auschwitz. When he was abducted, he decided to write a book about what he learned about the nature of humans under the most extreme conditions. He lost several manuscripts in the process.  

It turns out that much of what he observed describes mental fitness. Here are my biggest takeaways and the relationship:

  1. The importance of perspective. Wearing a mask seems like no big deal when compared to the devastation of the Holocaust which included starvation, losing all his possessions, abuse, facing the prospect of death every day, and the loss of freedom.  
  2. The Holocaust reminded me the importance of taking responsibility for yourself. When you blame others (refs, coaches, teammates, the association) for your suffering, you don’t take responsibility and instead give away your power. 
  3. Our greatest freedom is to choose our attitude and effort. It is inner freedom and spiritual freedom.  Every day you have a choice to choose it. (Change is a choice)
  4. For every “why” there is a how. If you are committed to why you will find a way to get it done.  Frankl’s “why” was his book and reuniting with his family. Living your “why” means taking responsibility for your life. What’s your why?
  5. Appreciate small things. A bigger piece of bread, an extra pea in your soup, or scoop from the bottom of the pot. The sunset; all these things and more can bring joy in any circumstance. Gratefulness, although cliche’, helps. 
  6. Pain is an inevitable part of life. You choose how to respond to it. Make use of the uncomfortable and difficult to grow. Don’t be ashamed of tears–acceptance of your emotions helps.
  7. Love is the highest goal a person can aspire to and a necessary part of life. Love what you do and yourself.
  8. Humor can exist in any circumstance and he worked to find it every day. It helps. I bet he used puns. 
  9. Don’t be ashamed of tears. It’s okay to be sad and feel it. Deal with things as they come.
  10. Relationships matter.  They helped him survive and was saved by guards who he befriended. 
  11. Imagery works. Frankl imagined conversations with his wife and used his hope of reuniting to stay alive. 
  12. Keep hope. Many died just days after when the day they thought they would be freed came and went. He believed they died of the loss of hope. 
  13. We can get used to almost anything.  There are so many things we think we can’t live without. Like sports and the gym.  Turns out it wasn’t that bad. 

There are so many more amazing life takeaways, so be sure and take the time to listen or read A Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a timeless classic.