Summary/Review: Man's Search for Meaning | Book


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I remember watching the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" a long time ago. I thought it was so beautiful that I couldn't stop crying and was so amazed. Then a few months ago, my girlfriend and I wanted to watch a movie, and we decided that's what we were going to watch. And this time, I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen and yet another senseless lesson from Hollywood.

The Pursuit of Happyness is a famous movie, but just in case you haven't seen it, let me recap it for you. It's an overview of the 'Man's Search for Meaning Summary'.


So this guy is very much poor and going through all this adversity, but he has a chance of one day becoming a stockbroker. And the entire movie mostly shows him constantly worried, constantly stressed, constantly pissed off, constantly yelling and getting into fights with his wife. But one day he might become a stockbroker and finally attain happiness.

I guess Hollywood's version of happiness is one day being a stockbroker. And at the end of the movie, of course, he gets the job, and he has now successfully pursued and attained happiness.

Now, there are so many things wrong with that, but let's start with this one. Man's Search for Meaning Review-

It's weird that someone would even try to pursue happiness because happiness cannot be pursued. It's not like a degree that you pursue for four years, and then you finally get it and can keep it for the rest of your life. It's more like a birth certificate that just comes with you. It's in your house; you just have to find it. It doesn't depend on how big or small your house is, it's in there.

So my first favorite idea from the book is, Happiness cannot be pursued. And to keep this from getting esoteric, let me tell you a story.

I remember when I was about 7 or 8 my parents left me with my grandma and we never really had food at home. And I don't mean that in the western sense of there's nothing that I like in the fridge. No, it was like there's nothing in the fridge that can be consumed as calories.

My grandma's only source of income was her pension. And I remember it was 13 Lari which is about $6 or $7, and sometimes they wouldn't even bring her that.

Now, there was also a little bakery at the end of the street that had this little pastry that I indeed liked. And it cost 20 Tetri which is about 10 cents. But most of the time, I didn't have money to buy it.

So I was out on the street a lot with other kids, and I soon figured out that there was this lemonade store. And they'd give you 5 Tetri if you brought them an empty lemonade bottle.

And I remember I'd wake up every day and I would go looking for bottles on the streets. Now it was pretty hard to find those bottles, but if I found four bottles that would mean I could bring them to the lemonade store and get 20 Tetri for them.

I remember how I was just the happiest kid alive. Every time I found a bottle, it was like the happiest moment of my life. Every time I went to the lemonade store and collected my 20 Tetri, it was an unbelievable feeling. And finally I would go to the little pastry store, and I would buy my little 20 Tetri pastry. I would sit out on the sidewalk and just enjoy it.

It was supposed to have raisins in it, But it was so cheap that they only put a few of them in there. I remember the occasional raisin bite and how I felt like the happiest kid alive. Now, let's come back to the "Man's Search for Meaning Review".

Now contrast that to today, there have been times where I'm eating a $100 steak, and I'm pissed off and unhappy because I ordered a medium. My night is now officially ruined guys. I'm going to be negative for the rest of the night.

Now, I'm not here to tell you that the stale, bland, 10 cent pastry is better than a $100 steak. I have a preference for the steak. There's nothing wrong with improving your life and being able to experience more. But that's all it is. Just the ability to experience more.

What I will guarantee you is that you either cultivate the potential to be happy and can be completely happy where you are right now. Or, I promise you there's absolutely nothing around you that you can chase to attain happiness.

Going from a 10 cent pastry to a $100 steak is like going from having to take the bus to owning a Ferrari. Yes, it's okay if your preference is driving a Ferrari over catching the bus. But remember, all that does is just let you experience more. That's it. So you're either happy on the bus right now just like you'll be happy when you have the Ferrari. Or you aren't happy on the bus right now, and you won't be happy in the Ferrari.

I look at my life right now, which is extremely good. But I also think of what it's going to be like in 5 years.

And in 5 years, the quality of my life is going to be a hundred times better than what it is right now. It will precisely be like going from the 10 cent pastry to a $100 steak all over again. But I have to keep reminding myself that I'm either going to be entirely happy with that pastry right now just as I'll be entirely happy with the $100 steak in five years. Or, I'm not going to be happy right now, and I'm not going to be happy in five years.

My second favorite idea is that there's a stimulus, which is what happens to you, which you can't control. And then there's response, which is what you do about it, which you have full control over.

But we treat the response like we have no control over it. It's just completely automatic for most people.

Something bad happens to you, you automatically get pissed off. But the reality is, you don't have to. You have complete control over it. Doesn't matter what kind of stimulus you're presented with, no one can ever take away the ability for you to choose whatever response you like.

So let's say you're in the kitchen, and you break a bunch of new plates that you just bought. Now, what's the automatic natural reaction? Getting pissed off, right? You have to clean it up now. Plus you broke a bunch of plates that you just bought.

Or, what could be your other response? Cool, it's just a bunch of plates. It's not a big deal. It's indeed great because it's giving me an opportunity not to get pissed off by the stupidest little things. Like, you can have gratitude for breaking the plates and having the opportunity to practice your virtue. Remember you can pick whatever response you like. It's all up to you.

Someone puts you down? Great! You're one step closer to not caring about what people think of you. Or, you can go home and cry about it. It's all up to you.

All the kids I grew up with, including myself, went through a lot of adversity. You know what happened to most of them? They turned into alcoholics and drug addicts. You know what their excuse is? "I had to see my dad beat my mom. My parents never had time to take care of me. I was so poor that I had no opportunity."

You know what my reason is for the minimal accomplishments I have at 22-years-old? The exact same thing.

There's no way most people are going to have the same work ethic as me. Most people don't know what it's like to be 7 and out on the street collecting dirty bottles so that you can feed yourself. They just won't be able to compete with me, I'm sorry. And I'm so thankful for every bullshit experience I've had, and I wouldn't change a single thing if I could.

That's the whole "Man's Search for Meaning Summary". Remember that, there's a stimulus which you can't control, but the response is all up to you. Step in between that gap and realize that everything can be taken away from you but one remaining thing that cannot be is the freedom to choose.