A Lesson From Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl That Applies Today
Every year, I make it a priority to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. For me, it’s a superb reminder to be grateful for my life. I live a privileged life, and even so, it’s easy to drop into the well of suffering by complaining about “first world problems.”
Another reason I read it each year is to never forget what human beings are capable of when in their individual and/or collective fear state: Us vs Them. There’s no better way to be reminded of this then to hear a person’s experience of living through the Holocaust.
Aside from that, what’s truly amazing is how I can see today what Victor Frankl warned about back in 1959 – over 50 years ago! My sense is that when you read this, much of what he says will resonate.
From his book—
“The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century. This is understandable; it may be due to a twofold loss which man has had to undergo since he became a truly human being. At the beginning of human history, man lost some of the basic animal instincts in which an animal’s behavior is imbedded and by which it is secured. Such security, like Paradise, is closed to man forever; man has to make choices. In addition to this, however, man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).…
The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom. In actual fact, boredom is now causing, and certainly bringing to psychiatrists, more problems to solve than distress. And these problems are growing increasingly crucial, for progressive automation will probably lead to an enormous increase in the leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these will not know what to do with all their newly acquired free time.
Let us consider, for instance, “Sunday neurosis,” that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”
While technology is a huge gift to us and our planet for connecting on a deeper level – such advances create the opportunity to relate as humans in a whole new way – the way to make that deeper connection is to stop, be still, and connect to the truth of who you are, all the while creating a conscious relationship with technology.
My deepest respect and gratitude to Viktor Frankl.
My book Evolution Revolution: Conscious Leadership for an Information Age is your handbook on Presence and conscious patterns. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2, Presence—The Foundation for Conscious Evolution:
“There is a lot of discussion about technology and mindfulness. Some of these conversations maintain that social media and other technology platforms keep us from being connected. Technology is an extraordinary gift of advancement that has allowed us to accomplish a great many things as a species. But as remarkable as it is, it’s just like anything else. When we fall into unconscious patterns, we leave the present moment. It is no different than a sport, meditation, or a social interaction. When we lose presence, we disconnect.” ~Abigail Stason, Evolution Revolution.