Book Review – Man’s Search for Meaning – Dr Viktor E. Frankl


Life is a wonderful journey of ups and downs, happy and sad moments, good and bad experience etc. The meaning of life is found when one identifies his purpose which is of course, subjective. How to find that meaning? The classic book written by Dr Viktor E. Frankl gives the answer. This book provides a different way to life and has the power to change the perspective towards life. Before going to the review, it is important to understand the background of this book.

The Background: This book revolves around the three years’ experience of Viktor Frankl during World War II. During World War II, he had to spent three years in various concentration camps like Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps. As the book says, it is the classic tribute to “hope” from the Holocaust. Holocaust was the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II. Around six million Jews were murdered or killed by the Nazi Germany in the German occupied Europe during those years. Auschwitz camp was the dominant symbol of holocaust. As a holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl wrote memoirs of his experiences in this book. Surviving from the holocaust and developing the “logotherapy” technique, Viktor Frankl journey is commendable. The book contains a dedicated chapter on logotherapy.

In order to understand why the book is a tribute to “hope”, one can understand the experience of a man who spent three years in various concentration camps wherein death was common punishment for prisoners. There are several incidents mentioned in the book how people were carried to gas chambers and killed. Prisoners in concentration camps were having no hope whether they will see the outside world or not. This book is about survival and a man can survive when he had some reasons to survive. If there is no reason to survive, there is no reason for existence which creates what is known as “apathy”. Every prisoner suffered a lot, and these sufferings were the motives for many to commit suicides apart from normal killings. Suicides happened due to lack of hope.

It is important to note that this book was written in 9 successive days, as mentioned in the Preface.  

About the Author

Dr Viktor E. Frankl (1905-1997), born in Vienna (Austria) was the founder of logotherapy. He was the author, psychiatrist, neurologist and a holocaust survivor.  He was Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School. He was the founder of what has come to be called the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.

Viktor Frankl, PC: Google

He had written 32 books that have been translated into 26 languages. Man’s Search for Meaning is a classic book with millions of copies sold.

About the Book

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”. This quote from Nietzsche is mentioned several times in this book. The meaning is clear, one should know the “why” to live. That why comes when one knows the meaning and purpose of his life.

The great task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life, as stressed by the author in this book. The author describes poignantly the prisoners who gave up on life, who had lost all hope for a future and were inevitably the first to die. They died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for. Author kept his hope alive, and that hope kept him alive.  

This book is an inside story of a concentration camp said by one of its survivors. The prisoners in concentration camp went through several atrocities and “one five-ounce piece of bread was their only food in four days”. The thought of suicide was entertained by nearly everyone, if only for a brief time. The readers might be surprised to know how prisoners committed suicides. They committed suicides through “run into the wire”. This was a phrase used in camp to describe the most popular method of suicide – touching the electrically barbed-wire fence. Ever wondered there can be most popular method of suicide? There was a time when prisoners did not fear death. Even gas chambers lost their horrors. The author had described these experiences of concentration camp.

The author had described the experiences in concentration camp in three phases, based on the inmate’s mental reactions to camp life. These three phases are: the period following admission, the period when he is well entrenched in camp routine, and the period following his release and liberation.  The last phase was only a dream till it happened. Hope was the force behind survival including the author. In one of the incidents, a prisoner was firm and hopeful that he will be free on 31st March and he did become free but through death. The author had described this incident how and what kept him alive till 31st March.

PC: Google

The book had a very important incidents when prisoners started to have “apathy” feeling, the blunting of the emotions and the feelings that one could not care any more.  This made them insensitive to daily and hourly beatings. The author calls this “apathy” feeling a very necessary protective shell for survival as it became the necessary mechanism of self-defense.

The author had brilliantly explained the meaning and the role of sufferings in life. Life is incomplete without sufferings. According to author, suffering is similar to behaviour of gas, which can be understood by the below extract from the book

It is possible to practice art of living in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behaviour of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.

Suffering is omnipresent and absolutely relative. It fills the human soul completely. If analysed and thought peacefully, it is true. The author had beautifully explained what is known as “provisional existence” which prisoners in concentration camp was having. Their existence was provisional as the sufferings had no end. A man who could not see the end of his “provisional existence” was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. This is the reason why a day in camp lasted longer than a week. The author sees such suffering in other way as such sufferings sometimes opens the gateway of opportunity to grow spiritually. This is the test of inner strength.

The author sees life in different perspective. What we expect from life does not matter, it matters what life expects from us. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for us. This is really inspirational way to look towards life as life is not “vague”. Human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have a meaning, and that this infinite meaning of life includes sufferings and dying, privation and death.

The book has such kind of eye-opening extracts which has the power to change the mind the perspective towards life. There is a dedicated chapter on logotherapy as well wherein the author who itself had developed this technique, had explained this concept in simple and understandable manner. Logotherapy focusses on meaning of human existence. This meaning is unique and specific and must be fulfilled by him alone. Man needs “something” for the sake to live or else it will be a “provisional existence”.

This book is an inspirational read. The journey of survivor from holocaust and finding the meaning of life is well described in the book. There are many who have always complains towards life because of the sufferings and obstacles they face. This book is a must read for them.

Lastly, I would like to conclude the review post by sharing a sentence from the book itself which is self explanatory.

Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.

After reading the review post, share your views and what you think is the “meaning” of life, in general.

Ashish Kumar

Book Review – Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki


Finance is an important part in life. Everyone wants to be financially independent. What should be done to be financially independent? What are the skills needed to be financially independent? Why there are so many poor people in world? Why middle-class remain middle-class? Such kind of questions must have arrived to many at various point in life. Finding answers to such questions is can be difficult. But there is a book on personal finance which discusses such questions and provide answers. The Book titled, Rich Dad Poor Dad, written by Robert T. Kyosaki is a worth read which provides answers to such questions and at the same time gives the other way of thinking. This post provides review of that book.

About the Author

Robert T. Kiyosaki is best known as the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997). He was born on 8th April 1947 and is an American businessman and author. He is an entrepreneur, educator and investor who believes the world needs more entrepreneurs who will create jobs. With perspectives on money and investing that often contradict conventional wisdom, Robert Kiyosaki has earned an international reputation for straight talk, irreverence, and courage and has become a passionate and outspoken advocate for financial education.

Robert T. Kiyosaki

His point of view is that “old” advice- go to college, get a good job, save money, get out of debt, invest for the long term, and diversify – has become obsolete advice in today’s fast-paced information age. His Rich Dad philosophies and messages challenge the status quo. His teachings encourage people to become financially educated and to take an active role in investing for their future.

He has authored several books. Some of his notable books includes:

  • Cashflow Quadrant (2000)
  • Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job (2005)
  • An unfair advantage (2011)
  • FAKE: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets: How Lies Are Making the Poor and Middle Class Poorer (2019) etc.

About the Book

This book is considered one of the best books on personal finance. The book boldly advocates the need to have financial literacy. According to the author, people should be financially literate which in turn make them financially intelligent. Lack of financial intelligence is the main cause of poor or middle class to remain poor or middle class.

The book is written in the form of stories which Robert Kiyosaki learnt from his rich dad and poor dad. He considers his friend, Mike’s father, rich dad and his own dad, poor dad. The book is a summary of teachings which he learnt from his rich dad and why his own dad having good academic background was a teacher and never become rich. The book revolves around these two ways of thinking, rich dad and poor dad.

The book starts with an introduction with mention of the classic poem of Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken” and the below excerpt need a worth mention.

I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the differences.

The author had brilliantly explained the path which has made all the difference and the reason how and why people are rich and poor. The introduction itself creates the eager to read the entire book. The book is against the “old school” thinking of going to school/college, earn degrees, do job, pay the debt/bills and make entire life a burden. Instead, he firmly believes that school and college education is important to have basic knowledge to understand the concepts etc. but it is not sufficient to become rich. For that, what is more important is to have financial education over and above school/college education. The book tries to make readers think above having a job and become financially independent. One can become financially independent if he possesses financial intelligence which in turn can be achieved through financial literacy. Kiyosaki is a strong advocate of financial intelligence which can be felt while reading the book.

There are many people who are intelligent and have attained good academic qualification, but do they possess financial intelligence? Everyone should ask this question. The difference between intelligence and financial intelligence should be identified by the person through his financial decisions which one takes during his lifetime. The book has such kind of discussion which makes it an interesting read.  A small excerpt from the book is worth mention here:

Money is one form of power. But what is more powerful is financial education. Money comes and goes, but if you have the education about how money works, you gain power over it and can began building wealth. The reason positive thinking alone does not work is because most went to school and never learned how money works, so they spend their lives working for money.

One of the most important aspect the book figures it out is that one should learn how money should work for him rather than yourself working for money. This is quite interesting. Learning how to have money work for you is a lifetime subject. This is the main difference between the poor and middle-class. “The poor and middle-class work for money. The rich have money work for them.” One has to learn how money work for them to become rich. This is the bottom line.

PC: Google

The book provides a fruitful discussion on assets and liabilities, income and expenses of rich and poor. Need to mention that there are least financial jargons used in the book. The discussion revolves around how rich maintains their assets/liabilities and how poor does so. In general, rich people acquire assets whereas poor and middle class don’t turn their income into assets rather than they convert their income into liabilities which they think are assets. There is a cycle in which poor and middle class are trapped and in turn they remain poor/middle class lifelong. If a young couple would put more money into their assets early on, their later years would be easier.

Most people struggle financially because they do not know the difference between an asset and a liability. Rich people acquire assets. The poor and middle-class acquire liabilities that they think are assets.

The book provides a good insight on the mentality or way of managing expenses of rich and poor people. Rich poor buy luxuries at last, while the poor and middle-class tend to buy luxuries first.

As mentioned earlier, the book advocates a lot on financial intelligence (Financial IQ). Financial IQ is made of four broad areas of expertise:

  • Accounting
  • Investing
  • Understanding markets
  • The Law

Financial IQ is the synergy of many skills and talents. In the words of Robert Kiyosaki, financial IQ is the combination of four skills mentioned above that make up the basic financial intelligence.

Robert Kiyosaki has strongly suggested to focus on building assets through financial intelligence. One should be flexible enough to adjust in the changing environment rather than sticking to the past. One should keep the options open and avoiding limiting the options. Financial intelligence is simply having more options.

The author stresses on overcoming some obstacles after being financially literate. These obstacles are arrogance, cynicism, bad habits, laziness and fear. Fear and ignorance are essential cause of poverty or financial struggle.

The main cause of poverty or financial struggle is fear and ignorance, not the economy or the government. It’s self-inflicted fear and ignorance that keeps people trapped.

The author had beautifully advocated on being financially independent through financial intelligence in this book. The book provides the lessons the author learnt from his rich dad. One should read the book to know the lessons. He does not recommend falling in the trap or rat race which in his words, is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

A job is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

The book is an interesting read as it as it offers the other way of thinking. It is written in simple and easily understandable language and provides some fruitful insights which is worth indeed. While reading the book, one will find many interesting sentences. Some of the interesting lines I have picked and shared below:

  • Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone. 
  • Most people fail to realize that in life, it’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep.
  • Today, wealth is in information. And the person who has the most-timely information owns the wealth.
  • People struggle simply because they cling to old ideas. Old ideas are their biggest liability. It is a liability simply because they fail to realize that while that idea or way of doing something was an asset yesterday, yesterday is gone.
  • Great opportunities are not seen with your eyes. They are seen with your mind.
  • Workers work hard enough to not to be fired, and owners pay just enough so that workers won’t quit.
  • Most workers focus on working for pay and benefits that reward them in short-term, but are disastrous in the long run. Instead, I recommend to young people to seek for what they will learn, more than what they will earn.
  • The world is full of talented poor people. All too often, they are poor or struggle financially or earn less than they are capable of, not because of what they know, but because of what they do not know.  

Do read the book for such interesting discussions and share your thoughts. 🙂

-Ashish Kumar

Book Review – 4 Pillars of Abundant Life – Ashok Wahi



Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Life is full of ups and downs and it does offer flips and flops. In this fast-moving life, it is easy to find and buy materialistic things but difficult to find happiness. Whenever a building is constructed, the base should be strong enough or else the building is expected to collapse. The pillars of the building should be efficient enough to construct and complete the building. So is the case with life which is also build on some pillars.

Today, I am reviewing a beautiful book for living a happy life. As presented in his debut book titled “4 Pillars of Abundant Life”, author Ashok Wahi had presented the 4 pillars of life or better to say “abundant” life. The author had tried to explain the building blocks of life by these 4 pillars.

About the Author

Ashok Wahi had a very successful corporate career spanning four decades. He has been a friend, philosopher, and guide to many – young and old from all spheres of life. He has a unique gift of presenting complexities of life in a very simple and personal experiences.

Need not to mention that the author belongs to the blogging fraternity and I am very happy to write review of his debut book. He is a very good blogger and I request you all to visit his blog for his literary pieces. Please check his blog, https://ashokwahi.wordpress.com/

It gives me a lot of pleasure to write review post of his debut book. Being known him for few years as a blogger, I would like to congratulate the “author” now. Many congratulations. 🙂

About the Book

As the name suggests, “4 Pillars of Abundant Life”, the book brings four pillars to live an abundant life which is presented in the four chapters. The book has a lot of examples from the author’s life and his personal experiences, making the book a blissful read. All the examples provided in the book gives a learning experience. Apart from the examples, the book is filled with many quotes which beautify the reading experience. And the best part is, the book is short, precise and to the point. The book provides an important message about the “House of Abundance” which is built on four pillars.

PC: Self

The book is simple and easy to understand. The book starts with an introductory chapter which is more than enough for the readers not to leave the book before finishing it. The introductory chapter throws some insights and at the same time puts some of the important questions in search of happiness. While reading, the book compels to pause for a moment and think on the questions raised. Taking some of the examples from the corporate world as well, the author had presented a relatable read to the readers. There is an interesting point made by the author regarding happiness vs successful. An extract from the book needs a worth mention.

It is so true that all the so-called successful people are not always happy, but every happy person is always successful! Because whatever we want to do or possess or achieve is for this feeling of happiness.

The book beautifully describes the happiness stealers and happiness enhancers in our life. Unfulfilled desires and worrying about the future are two important stealers of happiness whereas curiosity and enthusiasm are the two important enhancers of happiness.  Unnecessarily thinking and worrying about the future and that too for hypothetical reasons which spoils the present should be avoided, the author had strongly given this message in his book. One must look for the moments and things which brings happiness.

As it is said, money is not a guarantee to live a happy life, but majority of the people have that thinking of money giving a guaranteed happy life, the author had beautifully discussed this myth in the book. Life is full of ups and downs. Be it good or bad, nothing lasts forever. There is no end to pain and suffering in life, they will come but will go as well if faced properly. One should be always be happy in helping others, not only in monetary terms but emotionally, motivationally etc. Doing charity is good but “charity without publicity” is real charity, the book provides such kind of thinking.

Finding happiness in life is a difficult task. But why? It is difficult because most of us try to find it outside. Of course, it depends on external factors but majorly, happiness depends on our internal mental attitudes. The book provides an eye-opening discussion. Life is journey and being successful in life is what everyone desires. A very meaningful quote in the book is worth to mention.

Success is a ladder up that we go step-by-step. If the ladder isn’t balanced, we are sure to fall.

There should be a balance in life, as discussed in the book. The book also provides an important formula for distributing 24 hour a day into three portions. Please read the book to know the formula. To be successful in life, concentration is required, and meditation is the best way to focus or concentrate. Meditation is helpful in becoming spiritual. A fruitful discussion on meditation is provided in the book.

To conclude, author Ashok Wahi had given a gem in his debut book which is a blissful read. The book is inspirational and motivational as well.  4 Pillars of Abundant Life, please read the book and live an abundant life, which is crucial.

– Ashish Kumar

Book Review – Connect the Dots – Rashmi Bansal


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

The world is full of several examples of successful personalities who made their name and are tycoons today. The world is changing fast and entrepreneurs are shaping the new regime.  Their stories have inspired many.  Reading stories of those entrepreneurs who may not be a big name, but their brands have reached many households in India. In this article, I have picked a book which depicts life of various entrepreneurs who started from scratch and reached several heights in life. The book titled “Connect the dots” written by Rashmi Bansal is a blissful read.

About the Author

PC: Google

An MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, Rashmi Bansal is a well-known writer and entrepreneur. She is best known for her book Stay Hungry Stay Foolish (2008) which covers experiences of 25 entrepreneurs of IIM Ahmedabad. Contradictory, Connect the Dots (2010) was her next book which covers entrepreneurs without MBA qualification.  Her other notable books include Take me Away, God’s Own Kitchen, I have a dream etc.  She is also the founder of JAM (Just Another Magazine).

 

About the Book

PC: Google

The book, Connect the Dots, bring story of 20 entrepreneur without MBA qualification who started their own ventures. The book brings one of the important pragmatic truths of life wherein “You don’t need a fancy degree or a rich daddy to dream big and make it happen. It’s all in your head, your heart, your hands.” There are enormous examples across the globe where people dreamt big and proved themselves with their talent and efforts without much educational qualification. Connect the Dots covers story of such Indians.

The author had divided the entrepreneurs into three parts and so is the story covered in the book is divided into three parts: Jugaad, Junoon and Zubaan. According to the author:

  • Jugaad entrepreneurs have no formal training in business. They learn by observation, experimentation and application of mind as business is not ‘rocket science’.
  • Junoon entrepreneurs are driven by a particular idea, or passion. Something which is different and ahead of time.
  • Zubaan: Creative people need a platform to express themselves. When that talent is unique, the platform must be created and in doing so, the artist becomes an ‘entrepreneur’.

Rashmi Bansal took the interview of these entrepreneurs and have put the same in the book describing their stories which is inspirational indeed. One of the major attractions of the book which I came across is that she had picked most of the entrepreneurs who are less known. You can easily get many stories and books on big names like Tatas, Birla, Ambanis etc. but this book focusses on picking those who have made their way without any successful financial background or well-established family business. Well, this is what makes this book “an interesting and motivational read”.

The book is an inspiration for many who wants to have their own ventures. Learning from the story of these entrepreneurs who made their way from nowhere to what they are present is indeed a motivation.

Success doesn’t come without struggle and this can be felt while reading their stories. There are some ventures which have become brand now like Dosa Plaza, Crossword, Bharat Vikas Group (BVG), Su-Kam etc. Isn’t it interesting to know how they started from scratch and what bottlenecks they faced to make their start ups into a full-fledged venture with brand value??? There is a story of IT company where the entrepreneur says, “anyone can become a programmer and need not to have engineering degree”. Read the book for such interesting stories.

If read carefully and analysed, one can get to know the common problems which they have faced in their journey and hence can be utilized by others in order to avoid such issues. None of them journey was a cake walk and it was full of ups and downs. Learning comes from experience and all of these entrepreneurs have learnt from their practical experience while in the business.    

Some of the important learning and inspiration which I realized from the book:

  • One need not to have MBA qualification or higher qualification for being successful.
  • Common issues can be identified if read thoroughly and properly analysed and can be utilized accordingly.
  • The book cover story from various sectors and hence one can get the glimpse of these sectors and problems faced within.

Do read if you want to know some interesting and inspiring story of Indian entrepreneurs without MBA qualifications and share your views.

 – Ashish Kumar