After finishing Ikigai on Friday, I came across this article from The Atlantic today.
"In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished -- but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, "Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation." Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, "Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?""
Sorry, but I don't buy it.
>"Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning"
Well, he was just fucking lucky. It's a matter of randomness and, just because of that, he lived. Sure, maybe the posture in life would help to live longer (having hope is scientifically comproved to somewhat extend one's life if seriously sick, like cancer), but that wouldn't mean anything if you were among the ones picked to die in that day. Or in the next. Or in the next.
Real things you can do to live happier? Start with what is scientifically comproved and expand from that. This serie of posts on Less Wrong is just incredible: The Science of Winning at Life. You can start with this post: How to be Happy
I assume you haven't read the book from this response. Yes - that is an EXTREMELY simplified and overstated position. But after reading Man's Search for Meaning and spending a lot of time with holocaust survivors, there's a lot of truth to it. The decisions of which people to kill often came down to who had become too weak to work. Frankl argues, and I agree, that a huge portion of being able to push through adversity is mental/emotional, not just physical. Sure, it was pure luck that the Germans lost the war and that he was in a camp that lasted until it happened, but his point is that his mentality is a huge part of what kept him there.
It's a quick read and pretty impactful. I'd recommend it.
All right, Zach, I'll give this book a shot.
You seem to be a smart guy, and if you're recommending it, it probably has something valuable. By the way, I liked your site, keep writing! (nice theme too).
It is missing an about page!
Likewise. The Science of Winning at Life post is blowing my mind and I'm having trouble not clicking every link and ending up with hundreds of open tabs. Appreciate the tip.
And very right about the About page. I just put the blog up a couple weeks ago to have somewhere to dump my thoughts (mainly for myself), but it probably makes sense to put a little bit more about myself. Thanks for checking it out.
"The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, love, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience." -Tokugawa Ieyasu
In the late 1400's, the ruling Ashikaga Shogunate of Japan became weak and lost its hold over the country. A many-sided civil war broke out, thus beginning the "Sengoku Period" - known as one of the most bloody and lawless periods in Japanese history, but also an era of some incredibly most heroic leadership.
Eventually, "Three Great Unifiers" came to power and ended the conflict through victory. These three were Oda Nobugana, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
In the end, Tokugawa Ieyasu won, and his family ruled Japan for the next 250 years. However, he's probably the least popular of the three great unifiers in Japan.
Nobunaga is popular for having an incredibly fierce, martial, masculine spirit. At one point, the warrior-monks of the Honganji allied themselves against Nobunaga and harried, harassed, and ambushed his armies. The Honganji provided supplies, spies, and information for Nobunaga's enemies and sometimes faced them in direct combat.
Recently, I received a private reply to my post Sometimes We Suck At Life where I gave some advice on life and living. My admission in that post that “I had it all; a good paying career, a wonderful and supportive wife, and four awesome children,” stimulated this reader to ask, respectfully, what kind of advice I would give to someone else sitting in their car having a similar breakdown who didn't have the blessings I listed.
Implicit in the question was this; If a single parent of four children, with a low-paying job that he or she hated, and who had little family support, was sitting in their car, having a similar crisis, what advice would you (I) offer them?”
In other words, it was fairly easy for me to make a change in my attitude because I had good things to fall back on. So big deal that I changed my thinking.
Four years ago I would have gone into full defensive mode with that question and the implications therein. But you know what, this reader made a great point. He made me stop to examine and ponder just what he was asking. And it is a relevant question.