I’ve just read the book – ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl, the classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust.

There are some books that just leave you startled and completely lost, but in a good way, and this is definitely one of them. Here’s what I mean by that…

What are the things in your life that really don’t matter, yet they do really matter?

Mine are my golf game and Manchester United…

Me trying to hit a ball into 18 holes in less shots than ever before, and 11 men I’ve never met winning trophies for kicking a ball into a net more times than the opposition. These things actually affect my happiness if they don’t go well…

I don’t worry about starvation, making it through the work day without getting frostbite, Typhoid or ultimately being gassed to death for being unable to work.

That is how lucky we are, we get to worry about things that are irrelevant in the grand scheme of life.

None of us have ever had to deal with a level of horror anywhere close to the people who had to endure the physical and mental torture of the concentration camps… yet we all have things we complain and stress about.

This is a luxury that we have and it can be a good thing – I want to improve at golf and I enjoy competing. The problem comes when we worry about things that take over our lives and we end up suffering as a result…

The modern world is so fast paced and there is no privacy anymore. Young people share their lives on social media and peer pressure seems to be worse than ever. I often read about teenagers committing suicide because they just can’t cope with anxiety and depression any longer…

I find this hard to contemplate – tragedies nowadays start from the most meaningless beginnings.

Maybe we should all take a step back to consider how fortunate we are. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are the two most important lessons in life… why are schools and colleges everywhere not instilling a strong, positive mindset into young people at all costs?

Reading the book forced me to take a hard look at my life and my priorities and I need to re-evaluate…

Not how I’m spending my time, but how I’m spending some of my thoughts…

I am working as hard as I can to make a success of myself and I have a clear direction, the problem is I still have times of worry and a fear of failure. This book will be the catalyst for me to eliminate these thoughts from my life.

Victor was a psychologist and the story isn’t just a recall of events, it is an insight into the mind shifts a prisoner went through as they experienced the unimaginable mental (and physical) torture of life in a concentration camp.

He details the instinctive mental self defence mechanisms that they developed involuntarily to cope…

The man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife…

…I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honourable way – in such a position a man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries for his beloved, achieve fulfilment…

…A thought crossed my mind: I didn’t even know if she were still alive. I knew only one thing – which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person… It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.

I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out; but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge…my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying. “Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death.”’

I challenge you to read that and not contemplate the meaning of your life…

You might not be married but you probably have people in your life that you cherish. You will also have negative thoughts that control aspects of your life. Thoughts that shouldn’t have that kind of power over you…

Mine is my fear of failure in business and not giving my family the life and freedom that I want us to have…

But how can I worry about that as much now I’ve read that story, I already have everything that I will ever need. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing has no meaning, as long as we are a family.

Maybe you worry about your health, you get anxious about achieving your dreams, you constantly worry about what others think or maybe there are shitty people bringing you down…

Whatever the negative thoughts are that have a hold on you, I hope this article and the extract in particular, helps you get some perspective on what really does matter in life.

I hope you find strength in knowing that love really can set you free – even if it’s just for a short while…

-Matthew Brown

What really matters to you that shouldn’t consume you as much? Please share your own thoughts in the comments. If you want to buy the book, and you should, here is a link to it on Amazon – Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust

Use the contact form if you would like to contact me directly to discuss anything in more detail, I will help in any way I can. We can also engage on social:

Thank you for some of your attention.

Related reading: