26 June 2009

Man's Search for Meaning | 26 June 2009

I think the best way to get something out of this book is to read it while fasting. I sure empathized anyway. Each time the hunger scratched my innards. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Hyper intention can be a huge roadblock in getting what you want. For example, if you're bent on going to sleep, you'll never fall asleep. This can be the same with laughter and other things. It is countered by paradoxical intention: try to stay awake for example. Or forget about trying to sleep at least. In the same vein: happiness cannot be pursued, but must ensue.

  • Boredom is strongly tied to having a lack of meaning or purpose in life. Humans were first robbed of instinct when they graduated from being animals. More recently, they have been robbed of tradition, which would normally have given them some direction in making decisions. Our modern society is now confronted with boredom and lack of meaning, which can have many negative consequences, including suicide. The way to counter this is to find meaning. Finding fulfillment through finding meaning is what Frankl's logotherapy is all about.

  • Another modern problem is lack of responsibility. Having responsibility, even for a crime, makes a person human. Having no responsibility makes him animal or less. He does not act, but only is acted upon. Today many blame their parents, their society, or their government. And by doing so, they dehumanize themselves, which removes meaning from life.

  • Things determine each other. Whereas people determine themselves. People are self determining.

  • There are three ways to find meaning: to act or work (which is external), to experience or love (which is emotional and internal), and to suffer (so long as it is unavoidable suffering).


I was surprised that Frankl was teaching "begin with the end in mind" (one of the Seven Habits). It is interesting how all this truth is connected.