Book Review: "Man's Search for Meaning"

What's my rating for "Man's Search for Meaning"?

I gave the book a 5 out of 5 Rockstar rating.

Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning" moved me beyond words. It moved me to tears, to laughter, and finally to wonder. It lead me to reflect on my life, on how I view and interact with others. And it made me meditate on modern society’s negative effect: eroding our ability to strive for that which matters most yet cannot be measured.

The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the 20th century…the traditions which buttressed [man’s] behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism)… The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.
— Viktor Frankl, "Man's Search for Meaning", p. 106.

The need to pursue and find meaning in our lives is the stuff that makes life worth living, even when we are left with little or nothing. And as much as marketers try to convince us otherwise, it can’t be bought, traded or sold.

As Nietzsche once wrote: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

The book is organized in two parts:

  • Part 1: Frankl’s autobiographical observations while a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps provides the context we require to appreciate how he came to understand the source of human resilience and determination.
  • Part 2: A summary of Frankl’s Logotherapy theory, a future-focused form of psychotherapy that addresses the innate need for each of us to identify or develop sources of meaning in our lives.

The author offers convincing evidence that we can only experience sustained happiness by doing meaningful things that require us to grow. When we’re driven by purpose, we can reinvent ourselves, become incredibly resilient and experience deep contentment, even in the face of adversity.

To find out more about the book and my thoughts about it, read my full review here.