One of the Most Powerful Books I Have Ever Read
I originally titled this blog, "Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.
That title was not enough.
Never in my life have I read a book with so much impact on my own psychology, and, from what I've subsequently read on Viktor Frankl, the work of psychology as a whole.
What is it About?
Frankl was a psychologist who was held prisoner for 3 years in the Nazi concentration camps in World War II. Through Man's Search For Meaning, Frankl chronicles his life, and particularly his, and his fellow prisoners mental state in the concentration camps. He extends this chronicle to, upon his release, how his experiences have affected his work as a psychologist. As eluded by the title of the book, he delves into what provides meaning to mankind and what provides hope and thus strength in even the darkest of times.
How Does This Relate to My Finances?
It doesn't to be honest. It's far bigger than your, or my, finances will ever be. There are a couple of relatable pieces throughout the book, which I will touch on below, but this book is something to read to change your entire mindset. That mindset change can only improve every area of your life, including your financial situation.
Frankl's underlying thesis is that Man will find meaning in three core areas, being 1) meaning in someone 2) meaning in a piece of work, or 3) meaning in suffering. One of these core avenues will provide you with something that is bigger and more powerful than yourself; one of these avenues will cause you to step outside your own mind and see a bigger picture.
Frankl goes on to state that today's society is lost. Today's society is consumed and concerned with themselves and do not seek direction from stepping outside their own needs. We strive instead for things like pleasure. Pleasure, such as money, is a by-product, "and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself." Meaning in life is bigger than oneself and ones needs.
Why Is This Book so Powerful?
This is a harrowing read; while Frankl spares us of some of the severe horrors of a concentration camp, there are obviously the general experiences inflicted by Nazi Germany in the camps which he touches on, which moves and unnerves you. Throughout this book, Frankl strives to portray a balanced and non biased view, covering both the mental state of prisoners in the camps, and the mental state of the wardens employed to enforce the brutality.
The latter half of his book touches on his psychology work "logotherapy"; this form of therapy involves focusing on the future, and the meanings to be fulfilled by individuals. This is opposed to other forms of therapy that focus on the retrospective or introspective.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The search for meaning is something that we all think about. Once found it is liberating and intoxicating, and if not found is frustrating and stifling. My friend stated that he would recommend this book to anyone feeling lost and down. I would recommend this book to anyone, as we are all at some point on this journey.
I'm always on the search for new books, finance or otherwise. If there are any that you have read and would recommend, fact or fiction, please do leave them in the comments below.
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