Once the holiday hangover ends, many of us find ourselves in raw, cold, emotional February, and our hope for a bright new year starts to fade.
The pressures of meeting New Year's resolutions or making this "the best year ever" can be immense and unhelpful to one’s mental health, especially when your master plan doesn't immediately come to fruition.
When I am faced with such challenges, I usually reach out to my family and friends for needed support.
Thankfully, a good friend recently lent me his copy of Viktor Frankl’s seminal book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which covers Dr. Frankl’s unimaginable time as a WWII German concentration camp prisoner.
Dr. Frankl's deeply moving experience and observations of his fellow man in the Holocaust led him to believe that survival comes down to having a meaning in life.
Many of you know that I left my high-powered financial services career to explore this very question for myself, so I am overjoyed to be able to share this interview with Viktor Frankl in the latest installation of my Interviews with Dead People series.
Similar to my interviews with other deceased dignitaries, I am using Dr. Frankl’s actual words in quotations, mostly taken from “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
Austin from Austin: Dr. Frankl, I am delighted to speak with you. For one thing, my new health insurance no longer covers psychological visits, so I was hoping to get some free advice from you...
Frankl: “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior”
Austin from Austin: Oh good, so you are game for this. Let me set the stage for you. I think I have real problems.
Here is a perfect example of what I mean: I nearly had a MELTDOWN last week in line at the post office because they only had one worker working at 4pm on a weekday and there was a 25 person queue, and I was of course in a hurry, and then everyone in front of me had issues with their package - or multiple packages - thus taking an excruciating 5 minutes per customer...Does that count as ABNORMAL????
Frankl: Sounds like “an expression of the misery of our time”...Perhaps you are experiencing the “feeling of meaninglessness from a frustration of your existential needs.”
Austin from Austin: So how do I combat this?
Frankl: “Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life.” “We can discover the Meaning of life in three ways:
By creating a work or doing a deed
By experiencing something or encountering something
By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.”
Austin from Austin: Why is it so hard for all of us to find this meaning?
Frankl: “Every age has its collective neurosis.” People nowadays “are haunted by the experience of their inner emptiness, a void within themselves; they are caught in that situation which I have called the “existential vacuum.”
Austin from Austin: Existential vacuum?
Frankl: "The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom." "Moreover, there are many masks and guises under which the existential vacuum appears. Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by a will to power, including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money."
Austin from Austin: Dr. Frankl, if you only knew. So how do I begin?
Frankl: “Fate is [one’s] master, and that one must not try to influence it in any way, but instead let it take its own course.”
Austin from Austin: Does that mean we have no free will?
Frankl: “Man does have a choice of action.” “I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do.” You see, “success, like happiness, must not be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”
Austin from Austin: Any final words of wisdom?
Frankl: “The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
Austin from Austin: Thank you so much, Dr. Frankl, the entire world benefits from your wisdom.
NOTE TO READERS: I strongly believe that words from the past still have a bearing on our modern world, which is why I created the Interviews with Dead People series on the Social Musings by Austin website. If you are interested in reading my past interviews from deceased dignitaries such as Jackie Robinson, Susan B. Anthony and Sigmund Freud, you can find them here.
This month marks the three year anniversary of Social Musings by Austin's founding.
From my very first article about the deadly Texas ice storm of Valentine's Day 2021 to my recent expose about Wall Street dress codes, I have had an incredible time creating original stories and songs for you.
It has been an unbelievable ride, and I know that 2024 will be an AMAZING year for us all.
I would love to hear your comments below about your favorite story so far in my three years of existence!!!