One of the life-changing books I have read is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. The book is a chronicle by Frankl of his experiences as a German Nazi concentration camp inmate during World War II.
In this book, Frankl describes his psychotherapeutic* method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about and then immersively imagining that outcome.
(* Treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means.)
The central theme of Frankl’s book is ‘survival.’
Although he witnessed and experienced horror, the book focuses less on the details of his own experience and more on how his time under Nazi rule showed him the human ability to survive and endure against all odds.
As Frankl wrote, he saw the lowest parts of humanity while in the camps. He saw fellow prisoners promoted to be in-camp guards turning on their fellow prisoners. He watched as they beat their lifeless, malnourished campmates. He watched sadistic guards treating them as if they were lower than animals. But he also saw individuals rising up like saints above it all.
The part that impacted me the most from the book was this –
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Life is not easy. And unlike what we imagine, life is not supposed to move in a straight line of happiness and smiles, or sadness and pain. It is not supposed to stay the same, just like you are not supposed to stay the same.
Life is evolving and changing. It is a constant surge of ups and downs, twists and turns, and as Rudyard Kipling said, “…triumph and disaster.”
Like you have your happy and blissful moments, you are supposed to feel pain, get hurt, and experience losses occasionally. And some of them can be really bad.
That does not mean that you deserve every bit of the sadness, defeats, and tragedies that life hands over to you. It is just part of the journey that we are walking through. It is just part of what makes us human.