Viktor Frankl is one of my all-time heroes. He was the first person who inspired me to believe that we could find meaning and happiness regardless of our circumstances. He was a Jewish psychiatrist who lived in the Nazi work camps. His study was to understand what truly brought our lives meaning. He was studying this when the war broke out and he was taken to the camps. Here, he was faced with the ultimate “levelling of humanity” – everyone lost their families, jobs, money, prestige, pride, hope, freedom – everything that we believe brings us happiness and meaning.
Yet there were those who still helped the dying. There were others who stole food from the dying. There were those who would stop and point out a beautiful sunrise amidst the absolute horror of the camps.
Four years later, Viktor escaped the camps and went on to create “logotherapy” – “meaning-oriented therapy”. Instead of looking at everything that is wrong with your life, the question is truly what are your hopes. WHY do you want to be alive. We could talk forever about the past and what was wrong about it. But as a holocaust-survivor, Viktor could honestly say that you might never understand WHY some things happen. But we do know what we would like out of life… the reasons that we want to be here.
His best-selling book is “Man’s Search For Meaning”. This is one of my favourite books although I was initially afraid to read it – I didn’t want to read about the horrors of the camps… But the book isn’t like that. It is uplifting and incredibly inspirational. When I was in University, I even went on to do many projects on his ideas and logotherapy.
Truly, a wonderful man.