One thing that has sustained me this past year (and let’s be honest; most of my life) has been finding a good book to escape in. It may sound pessimistic that I feel the need to escape, but I think it’s actually healthy to balance the stress of real life with a little fiction. I think it actually helps to put things in perspective. I also find it helps with my vocabulary, tone, and imagination.
I’m currently submerged in the series “Game of Thrones”, a TV series I like, and a book that I love. Isn’t it always that way? A student of mine lent me his copy and a friend joked that I had just picked up a very expensive habit by starting this series (I hear there are 5 books so far, with an average page count of 800). Could it be anymore expensive than Harry Potter? Well… maybe.
Although I’m a bit consumed by Game of Thrones, I’m always interested in adding additional books to the list. I’ve always been a sucker for meaning of life/happiness/goal-setting/spiritual types, and loved books like Deepak Chopra’s Buddha, The Art of Happiness, The Prophet and The Happiness Project.
I originally learned about Man’s Search For Meaning- An introduction to Logotherapy by Viktor E. Frankl from Mighty Girl. I like her explanation of the book best: “[Frankl] was a psychotherapist who practiced as an inmate at Auschwitz. He found that people were able to survive best when they felt they had purpose. In pursuing happiness, it’s easy to overlook the pursuit of meaning.” Here’s an excerpt from the preface:
“In the concentration camp every circumstance conspires to make the prisoner lose his hold. All the familiar goals in life are snatched away. What alone remains is “the last of human freedoms”—the ability to “choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” This ultimate freedom, recognized by the ancient Stoics as well as by modern existentialists, takes on vivid significance in Frankl’s story. The prisoners were only average men, but some, at least, by choosing to be “worthy of their suffering” proved man’s capacity to rise above his outward fate.”
The ability to choose one’s attitude. I love that.
Another great bit from Frankl:
“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot 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 or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”
Can’t wait to dive in.