This happens to be a review of an audio book that I have listened to a couple times. Man’s Search for Meaning was written by Viktor E. Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997) first published in 1946. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. As I have mentioned in the past my book reviews tend to focus more on what you can learn from the book than some blow by blow account of the work. This book is broken up into two parts with the first part being Viktor Frankl’s experience at the German concentration camp Auschwitz and the second part being an overview of his psychotherapy method Logotherapy.
(picture of the entrance into Auschwitz)
Auschwitz was probably the most notorious of the Nazi Germany concentration camps where thousands of people were either killed in gas chambers, shot, or starved to death. Viktor Frankl starts out Man’s Search for Meaning with his account of Auschwitz from the day he arrived to the day it was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. Prior to the Soviets actually stepping foot in Auschwitz the SS guards marched some 60,000 prisoners to the city of Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia. It is estimated that at minimum 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered.
In this book Viktor Frankl spends most of his time in the first section on his observations of the guards and prisoners; much of this is difficult to read or as in my case listen to. As you read or listen to this book you will be struck by what an incredible human being Viktor Frankl was. Clearly there was something special about him aside from his education and training or maybe because of it, he was able to survive in this situation with such an outstanding perspective on life. If there is a positive aspect to adversity it is that it reveals the true character of a person, and in Viktor Frankl’s case it reveals courage, compassion, love, hope, and intelligence. There are some great lessons in this book that you the reader can take away from it, making it a must read.
The second part of this book is devoted to Logotherapy, which was developed a psychotherapy methodology. I found this part of the book less compelling than the first section, but interesting enough for me to study it further. Logotherapy is based on an existential analysis focusing on Kierkegaard’s will to meaning as opposed to Adler’s Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans (Wikipedia).
Should you read or listen to this book? I found this book to be very inspiring for several reasons. First and foremost the book provides many insights into the character of man, from the dark inhumanity of the guards in the concentration camp to the contrast of spirit, love, and humanity of the prisoners. I think Viktor Frankl makes a great case for how meaning and having a why in your life can overcome almost any situation. This book is a real gem and highly recommended. While you will be shocked by the inhumanity, you will also be inspired by the greatness that exists in humanity.
Although this book has a pretty funny title, don’t let that fool you. I have listened to the audio version of Unfu*k Yourself at least 3 times now and it is incredible. The author Gary Bishop narrates the audio version and does an outstanding job. Whenever possible for me it makes sense for the author to be the narrator, albeit there are a few exceptions. Having read probably a hundred or more self-improvement books over the past decade I would rate this in the top 5. The introduction is great and it is followed up with 7 guiding principles to unfu*k yourself, and then there is a summary at the end that is nothing short of awesome.
Here is a brief summary of the 7 guiding principles:
- I am willing or I am unwilling. Self talk is a big issue. Change yours to I am instead of I will. Use the power of I am willing or I am unwilling to do something. Write a few of the key things in your life that you are willing to do, and those that you are not willing to do.
- I am wired to win. You might not realize it but you are winning all the time. Your brain is wired to win. You are not a loser and you will win in the future. You might consider upping the stakes a bit, providing new challenges, but be assured you are a winner.
- I got this! You have succeeded over and over in your life, but you have no appreciation for it. You have a track record of success so next time a challenge comes up you have to say “I got this”.
- I embrace uncertainty. Let’s face it nothing is certain in life, other than you will die someday. Stop trying to plan everything out so that things will happen as you think they should. Instead of fearing what might happen, begin to embrace that life is uncertain. Remember the greatest rewards come when you leave your comfort zone and begin to embrace things that you consider risky.
- I am not my thoughts, I am what I do. Your brain will create all kinds of crazy thoughts. It will tell you this is too risky, this is too difficult, or I will never succeed. This is bullshit! Do what you need to do to move towards your goals. Don’t listen to the negative shit you are thinking. You are not the stupid shit you are thinking, instead you are what you actually do.
- I am relentless. Gary Bishop uses Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example of how being relentless is sometimes all you have. The power of being relentless can never be underestimated. You can’t see around corners, you can’t plan your way to success, but you can be relentless.
- I expect nothing; I accept everything. This is my personal favorite as it is a powerful way of thinking about life. Stop expecting other people to be a certain way or things to turn out in a way that meets your expectations. You have no control over the way other people will respond to you, so stop expecting them to act a certain way. Accept what happens and guess what you begin to live in the moment.
This book is a refreshing break from all the other self-help books that I’ve read. The author Gary Bishop provides an unfiltered way towards breaking away from those bad habits that have been holding you back from having the life you could deserve. One of the most important points the author makes in this book is that people who have a fulfilling life have a bias for action and don’t make excuses. They eliminate those things in their life that are holding them back and replace them with things that contribute to the life they want.
I recently started listening to the audio book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. I’ve always loved Eckhart Tolle’s quotes, but have never read or listened to any of his work. This book from Audible.com is about 9 1/2 hours, which makes it great for my long daily commutes. This Audible version of Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is actually narrated by Eckhart Tolle himself, which I really like because he is flat out brilliant.
At this time I’ve listened to about 4 hours or what amounts to several chapters in the book. While I never like to give away too much in these posts, as to not spoil it for the reader; I am really enjoying this audio book. Tolle spends a lot of time talking about how the ego has prevented us from being ourselves, from finding any sense of our true self. He also spends a lot of time discussing our material desires that are driven by ego or sense of a false self, and how we cling to roles that we so closely identify with as we feel they define ourselves by these roles.
This is really an incredible audio book because it makes you question everything you think you are and value. If you have questions about a world where we seek to divide groups of people, where material wealth is king, where we seek to feel superior to others, and live a life stroking our egos then you will really enjoy Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.