Hey everyone! I just returned from a lovely vacation in Florida, so if you noticed my absence from the blogging world that is why. I really missed reading blogs, and since I have so much to catch up on (plus my Blogging101 assignments, uh oh…) I thought I would use the comments of this post to do a blog share! If you have a post that you’d like me or other people to read, or give feedback on, please leave a link in the comments. Please check out some other blogs that comment as well – let’s spread the blog love!
Anyways – I had a fantastic vacation. It was sunny every single day, but I didn’t get a sunburn (pretty exciting for me). I didn’t bring any technology except for my iPod and camera, so it was really nice to get away from technology for a bit and relax.
Anyways – while I was on vacation, I did a lot of reading. One of the eight books I read changed my perspective on the meaning of life (and no, it wasn’t Confessions of a Shopaholic). It’s quite something to go to the beach with a book for light reading and return with an entirely refreshed perspective on life, let me tell you. The book is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl was in concentration camps in the second World War, and the first half of the book focuses on that.
He is also one of the founders of logotherapy, a kind of psychology, which is what the second half of the book delves into. I was a bit confused by some parts, but the terms I learned in psychology last semester carried me through it. In essence, the book proposes that there is not one absolute meaning of life but different meanings depending on what is going on in your life.
I had always simply accepted the thought that happiness was the absolute end goal of life, but as the book mentions, searching for happiness so explicitly often leads to unhappiness. Happiness comes when you pursue other goals relevant to where you are in your life, but not from actively pursuing happiness itself.
Frankl writes, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
Another thought that Frankl emphasizes is the importance of choice. Even in a concentration camp, one can choose their attitude. In the book he frequently quotes Friedrich Nietzsche, “he who has a why to live can deal with any how.” Picking that “why” is an important part of defining your attitude, and this will carry you through difficult situations.
My biggest takeaway from reading this book is that it is a choice to be positive (as I mention in my post Dear Ideal Reader), but happiness is something that happens naturally. I would definitely recommend reading Man’s Search for Meaning if it sounds like something you are interested in! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share your blog in the comments!