My Summer Books #2

I used to ask myself, “what is the meaning of life?” and I would come up with a whole bunch of answers. Yet I never indeed found one single right answer. Then time passed, I went to a college, fell in love, broke up, anguished, got a job, traveled places, and moved to a different country. Along the way, I forgot the question and stopped asking about it. 

I don’t remember how I found it; the book called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It was a beautiful book, and I admired the principles in it. I’ve been trying to apply them ever since. The first principle of seven habits was to be proactive by choosing how to respond in a given circumstance. The author of that book, Stephen R. Covey, expressed his idea about free agency, “we have the ability to consciously choose how we respond to any situation.” He was citing examples from Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” This is how I found out about “Man’s Search for Meaning” a long time ago on that spring night. 

Since that day, about five years later, I finally found and read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. First and foremost, I loved this book because it does not just include optimistic ideas, but it helped me see my life from a different perspective one more time. The story itself was touching, indeed very much. While I was reading, I remembered how hard it was to lose my dad a few years back in 2015. I also remembered how lonely I was when I moved to the U.S the first time. Then I read about Victor Frankl’s life in a Nazi camp during WWII. While I was reading, my heart filled with sorrows. I could only imagine how hard it would be to lose all of someone’s family.

The book is not about sadness, discouragement, or hatred, even though its pages are filled with that. It is more likely about how to find a silver lining in your circumstances when times seem harsh, and situations become unbearable. It is about how to find meaning from suffering, hardship, or pain by using our ultimate freedom, the freedom to choose how to respond to whatever is happening in your life.

He used this ultimate freedom to survive in the Nazi camp. While other inmates were complaining about the current situation, Victor would picture in his mind meeting with his wife. He would imagine having a picnic with her on a summer day in the back of their garden. He would see her face as if she was present, and feel her as if she was next to him. Thus, he found joy in the Nazi camp walls, on a cold winter day, with an empty belly, in a thin prison uniform, and with swollen feet. In his last days of the camp, he helped not just other inmates, but also some guards to find happiness in their situations.

He answered the question about life’s meaning. The answer is—-there is not a single right answer that suits everyone. Everyone’s life is different. Thus, people have to find their life’s meaning by themselves. They should realize that only by asking themselves about their own life can they truly answer the meaning of life for them. Hence, the correct question would be, “what’s the meaning of MY LIFE” rather than “what’s the meaning of life in general.” So what’s your life’s meaning?

I strongly recommend this book if you are looking for something to read before summer ends. For me, the biggest takeaway from this book would be the realization that my life is not too bad, and it has never been miserable, never will be as far as I choose to be positive and see the bright side in everything. We may not control what is happening in our lives, but we do have control over how we respond. I know it is easy to say, but this is the main principle if we want to live happily. Indeed happiness is a choice we make every day. May you find your life’s meaning someday.

Published by Ulzii, August 15, 2020