Man’s Search For Meaning

Man’s Search For Meaning


Book Summary

Man’s Search For Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl

01 Mar, 2024


"Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'." – Viktor E. Frankl

Key Takeaways

🔵 Intrinsic Meaning: Life holds a potential meaning under any circumstances, even the most miserable ones. Purpose Of Life Coaching explores this intrinsic meaning and aims to uncover it in every individual’s life.

🔵 Attitudinal Choices: Frankl emphasizes that we always have the freedom to choose our attitude toward life and its challenges. This perspective is a core principle of life purpose coaching, empowering clients to find meaning through their responses to suffering.

🔵 Logotherapy Principles: The book presents the basic tenets of logotherapy, a form of Purpose Of Life Coaching that insists on the will to meaning as the primary motivational force in humans, differing from the pleasure principle (Freud) or the will to power (Adler).

🔵 Existential Vacuum: Frankl identifies the 'existential vacuum' — a feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose — as a major ailment of our time. Life purpose coaching directly addresses this vacuum by guiding individuals to discover their unique purpose.

🔵 The Meaning of Love and Suffering: The book explores how love and suffering can lead to finding meaning. Frankl suggests that even in the most painful moments, through love and choosing one's attitude towards suffering, individuals can find purpose.

🔵 Transcendence through Purpose: Frankl proposes that by transcending oneself — by serving a cause or loving another person — one can actualize themselves and discover their purpose in life.

'Man's Search for Meaning' remains a seminal work in understanding human psychology and the quest for meaning. Purpose Of Life Coaching practitioners and those seeking direction can find in Frankl's narrative both solace and inspiration in the enduring pursuit of a purposeful life.

Big Ideas from 'Man's Search for Meaning'

The Will to Meaning as Our Primary Drive

Unlike Freud's assertion of the will to pleasure and Adler's will to power, Frankl introduces the will to meaning as the fundamental human motivation. His time in concentration camps revealed that those who held onto a sense of purpose, be it love for a distant relative or plans for future endeavors, were more resilient in the face of suffering. This foundation of Purpose Of Life Coaching demonstrates that the primary goal is not to achieve pleasure or power, but to find meaning in life's experiences, no matter how challenging they may be. Frankl's logotherapy, a central aspect of life purpose coaching, emphasizes the healing and motivating power of discovering a personal sense of purpose.

Freedom of Choice and Responsibility

Frankl posits that we possess the ultimate freedom to choose our attitude toward the circumstances we face. This freedom, which can never be taken away, carries with it the weight of responsibility. No matter the external pressures, individuals have the internal capacity to decide how they will respond to life's challenges. Purpose Of Life Coaching often revolves around helping individuals realize this potential, empowering them to make conscious choices and accept the responsibility that comes with freedom.

Finding Meaning Through Suffering

One of Frankl's most profound insights is that life can be meaningful even in the worst of times, and that suffering is an inevitable part of life. Instead of seeking to avoid suffering, one should look for meaning in it. This principle is integral to Purpose Of Life Coaching, where the aim is not merely to alleviate discomfort but to use hardship as a springboard for personal growth and to find deeper meaning. Suffering ceases to be an insurmountable obstacle and instead becomes an opportunity to demonstrate courage, learn, and contribute to one's overarching life purpose.

The Existential Vacuum and Sunday Neurosis

Frankl discusses the existential vacuum, a widespread phenomenon characterized by a sense of meaninglessness and boredom, which he observed in the post-war society. This condition, which he also refers to as "Sunday Neurosis"—a depression that sets in when individuals are not occupied with work—suggests a disconnect from a sense of purpose. In terms of Purpose Of Life Coaching, Frankl's insights speak to the need for finding fulfilling pursuits that resonate with one's core values and aspirations, thereby filling the vacuum with genuine purpose.

Self-Transcendence as a Path to Meaning

Rather than self-actualization, Frankl views self-transcendence as the ultimate way to find meaning. This means stepping outside oneself to serve a greater cause or to love another person. This concept aligns with Purpose Of Life Coaching by encouraging individuals to look beyond their own immediate desires and circumstances, and to connect with something larger than themselves. By doing so, they can find a sense of purpose that is both fulfilling and self-affirming.

How this Book Relates to Life Purpose

'Man's Search for Meaning' is not merely a memoir of survival; it is a guide to discovering one's life purpose. Frankl's experiences and the lessons he draws from them serve as a blueprint for Purpose Of Life Coaching. He shows that meaning can be found even in the depths of despair, and that our response to suffering can be a source of growth and purpose.

Within the context of life purpose coaching, the book's messages resonate with anyone seeking their calling or life purpose. Frankl's logotherapy is based on the belief that every individual has a unique purpose that can be discovered through self-reflection, acceptance of suffering, and a commitment to a cause greater than oneself. By exploring these themes, readers are encouraged to embark on their own journey toward a purposeful life, with the understanding that meaning is always attainable, regardless of the challenges faced.

Frankl’s work is foundational for anyone involved in Purpose Of Life Coaching, as it provides a philosophical and practical framework for helping people to navigate life's adversities and to find their own answers to the questions of existence. Each person's quest for meaning is deeply personal, yet the wisdom encapsulated in 'Man's Search for Meaning' offers universal guidance that can facilitate this quest, positioning Frankl’s insights at the heart of life purpose coaching.

My Personal Takeaway from the Book

After reading "Man's Search for Meaning," I felt an invigorating push to identify the deeper motivations driving my endeavors and to align them more closely with my personal and professional life.

Who the Book is for

'Man's Search for Meaning' holds value for a wide readership, ranging from psychologists and students to those interested in personal development. It is particularly beneficial for individuals engaged in or considering Purpose Of Life Coaching, as it lays a foundation for understanding the human condition and the pursuit of meaning. The book is also a vital resource for therapists, counselors, and life coaches who seek to aid others in discovering their life purpose. Moreover, anyone facing personal challenges or existential questions may find solace and direction in Frankl's teachings. Its messages resonate with those who are navigating adversity, searching for inner peace, or simply looking to understand the human capacity for strength and renewal.

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About Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor E. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor. Born in Vienna in 1905, Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is considered the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. His approach was based on the belief that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. During World War II, Frankl spent three years in Nazi concentration camps, an experience that influenced much of his work, including his most famous book, 'Man's Search for Meaning.' His real-life insights into human psychology, suffering, and resilience have made a lasting impact on modern psychological thought and practices, particularly in the realm of Purpose Of Life Coaching and existential analysis. Frankl's work has been recognized worldwide, having authored over 39 books which have been translated into dozens of languages, and he has received numerous awards for his contributions to science and public service.


Isak Vidinghoff is a Strategic Life Coach and Content Creator. He communicates personal development strategies to help people find purpose and meaning to live their fullest potential in life.

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