Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human. — Viktor Frankl.

Today, March 26, is the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), author of Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the most influential books in our time. The Library of Congress endorsed Man’s Search For Meaning, as one of the top 10 most inflential books of all time. One of the key phrases in his life was “the whole world turns on love, ” a message engraved in a locket that he gave to his wife. After the holocaust, the locket, one of two made in Vienna, was miraculously returned to him. A new book celebrating this remarkable man’s life was recently published by Houghton-Miflin/Clarion books. Vicktor Frankl: A Life Worth Living is a great starting point for learning about Frankl’s intense and thoughtful life. It’s a great read for all ages, and a perfect gift for young adults ages 12 and up.

“When he was a teenager in Austria, Viktor Frankl began developing logotherapy, a revolutionary form of psychotherapy based on the belief that humanity’s primary motivational force is the search for meaning. Unlike most forms of psychotherapy, logotherapy encourages patients to look to the future and live their lives fully, rather than relive the past. Then something happened that put Frankl’s philosophies to the test: He and his wife and parents were sent to a concentration camp.

Frankl survived; his family did not. In his grief, Viktor turned to his work. The outcome was his magnum opus: Man’s Search for Meaning, an account of life in the camps from the point of view not only of a survivor but a psychologist. The writing of this book saved Viktor in his darkest hour and was the beginning of a new start in what was to be a long and rewarding life. Man’s Search for Meaning went on to become one of the most influential books of our time. This thoroughly researched biography is a compelling account of one man’s struggles and, ultimately, his triumphant success in forging a life worth living.” – from the Houghton Miflin site

Author Ann Redsand comments on writing A Life Worth Living, her first book: “Like many Americans born shortly after World War II, I did not learn about the Holocaust in school. It wasn’t until I saw the graphic movie about Auschwitz-Birkenau, Night and Fog, while I was in college that I first heard about it. I was devastated and began reading everything I could find about the atrocities, in an effort to understand how such a thing could happen. That was how I first discovered Viktor Frankl’s unique account, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl became one of my heroes when, for the first time, I read something hopeful that came out of a person’s direct experience of the horrors of the Holocaust.

When I was school counselor, I returned often to Man’s Search for Meaning to find inspiration. I told parts of Viktor’s story to my students when they told me about situations that gave them feelings of hopelessness. I wanted his story to inspire them as it had me. It was on a day when I helped a boy into an ambulance that I decided I would write Frankl’s biography for young people. Tommy (not the boy’s real name) was in eighth grade at the time, and he felt there was no future for him in our small New Mexico community. He was quietly destroying his life by sniffing inhalants. As I walked back into the school on that beautiful spring day, I knew that I would start writing this book that summer. Tommy returned to school with a different outlook after a month in treatment, and we had several good talks about his future. He went on to high school the next year. An unexpected result of my research and writing was that I began to use logotherapy more and more in my counseling.”

More on Viktor Frankl:

“We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering.” –Man’s Search for Meaning.

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