35,000 feet smack in the middle of the sky, there I was. Sittin’. Sippin’. Chillin’. Flyin’.

A month ago, I took a two day trip to the outskirts of Ottawa Canada — a place I’d never been. Disregard Canada Day and forget tourist traps — I wasn’t interested in any of that. I gravitated toward the simple pleasures that the experience had to offer; mainly, rusticating poolside with my radically bad-ass vegan brother, Eliot Burdett, and his phenomenal family.

Beyond the Coronas and back inside his crib, Eliot’s got a book collection that makes my local library look like a dilapidated flea-market. 100s and 100s and 100s of high quality books. If Eliot was Morpheus and I was Neo, I would have had him embed the whole damn room into my brain.

But alas, that couldn’t happen. You see, I’m the Mary Kate Olsen of information dieting — too much info makes me sick.

So in order to hold down and process my appetite for wisdom, I’ve learned to combat the omnipresent information overload that pervades our society. Here’s how I manage: I stick to the bare-bones, most nutritiously-dense data I can find — and no matter how high quality the goods may be — if I’m full, I’m full.

But Eliot’s library was like a dessert buffet.

And not at some all-you-can-eat cheap Chinese joint.

This was like royal-family wedding quality buffet. It was too tempting but I couldn’t risk it; with the launch of Living On Purpose only 3 weeks away at the time, I knew I couldn’t afford to fuck around. I said no thank you, no, no thank you.

But Eliot’s a wise dude. I dropped my defense for a split second and he exploited my vulnerability. Here’s how: There was ONE book which I had been dying to get my hands on. It was a book I had been talking about and quoting for over a year, but I had never actually read. When Eliot threw it in my face, I had to catch it.

Welcome: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

If you’ve never heard of Viktor Frankl before, you’re exactly where I was two years ago. Here’s the breakdown:

Frankl was born in Austria in 1905 and passed away in 1997. He was a neurologist and psychologist who survived the Holocaust and created Logotherapy.

Logotherapy is a type of existentialist thought based on the belief that man’s most powerful motive and driving force is to find meaning. (“Logos” is a Greek word which translates to “meaning.”) Oh yeah, and did I mention, Frankl is THE MAN!

20 “Man’s Search for Meaning” Quotes

Here are 20 of my favorite quotes from the 2nd section of Man’s Search for MeaningAll quotes are from Frankl unless otherwise noted.

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

“Man’s search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that so effectively helps one to survive even the worse conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.”

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” – Nietzsche

“One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

“It is, therefore, up to the patient to decide whether he should interpret his life task as being responsible to society or to his own conscience.”

“The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

“In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

“Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.”

“Suffering unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

“Such a value system might be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy.”

“How could I have interpreted such a ‘coincidence’ other than as a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?”

“What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Logos (meaning) is deeper than logic.”

“At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.”

“Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.”

“Logotherapy bases its technique called ‘paradoxical intention’ on the twofold fact that fear brings about that which one is afraid of, and that hyper-intention makes impossible what one wishes.”

“The neurotic who learns to laugh at himself may be on the way to self-management, perhaps to cure.” – Gordon W. Allport

“As soon as the patient stops fighting his obsessions and instead tries to ridicule them by dealing with them in an ironical way — by applying paradoxical intention — the vicious circle is cut, the symptom diminishes and finally atrophies.”

“As the focus of striving shifts from conflict to selfless goals, the life as a whole becomes sounder even though the neurosis may never completely disappear.” – Gordon W. Allport

“Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.”

Did you get something from this?

Why not give it to someone else? If you enjoyed this, please share it with your favorite social network. It would mean the world to me, and may even help one of your friends’ lives.

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  • “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked "…….THIS rocked my world!
    Jacob thank you for just this…..I MUST find this book.
    love and light!

    • LOVED that one too Kathy!! You already know it, but my pleasure, and thank you for the feedback!

  • Elliot

    "Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”


  • Hey, I read this book a while book. Very real, raw and inspiring. Sadly, Victor Frankl died not too long after the release. None the less the book is quite phenomenal. Great post.

    • Word dude!! Wondering which version you read. I know it was initially released in 1946 and homeboy passed away in 1997. Indeed tho – love love love the ideas behind the man and his practice.

  • I like #5…

  • Awesome Jake – will put the book on list to buy – thanx – Namaste!

  • Gunja

    "burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy.”..I so so wish I had come across this a while earlier…
    but then..it's never too late to recommit and restart…I guess :)

  • Found Frankl several years ago and largely influenced how I think about myself and my world today. This is a great recommendation of his work and philosophy.

    I agree that MSFM is a "must-read" (must-live) book! One of the quotes I'd forgotten or not noticed the first time was "suffering unnecessarily is masochistic not heroic."

    I may have to steal that one. In my first book I wrote a chapter section about why suffering is unnecessary. It was a challenge to write, but one of the insights that stuck with me is that the people we venerate (whether saints, martyrs, etc) for their suffering are not venerable //because// of their suffering but because of their surrender.

    Releasing the need to resist what is is a powerful place in life. Suffering is often just the path that leads us to the place of surrender or releasing resistance.

    So glad I found your blog today!

  • Pingback: Viktor Frankl and the Idea of Choice « Rebuild Your Lifecoach Blog()

  • Thanks for sharing. I will have to check Frankl out. Just wrote a post for my blog about taking ownership of your life and the decisions you make which will go live tomorrow. I think the whole country could use this book :)____Have a great day!

  • Mrs. I

    Thank you!! This is exactly what I need for my AP Lit course's online discussion!!

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  • Awesome Jake – will put the book on list to buy – thanx – Namaste

  • LOVED that one too Kathy!! You already know it, but my satisfaction, and thank you for the feedback!

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