Words to Live By

I’ve started reading again.

Please let it be known, this is very good news – on numerous levels. In case you haven’t picked up on it before, I have a somewhat addictive nature, and one of the many ways I’ve numbed myself is with candy crush. I take no pride in this. It is a stupid, trivial, pointless game. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing candy crush if you’re the kind of person who pops on and plays a couple of levels every now and then. But if you’re like me and managed to get past level 3000 in a depressingly short period of time, then clearly there’s a problem. And no – I haven’t spent any money on it – just a ton of time, which is far more valuable than money.

Yesterday I did something very brave and removed it – not just from my phone, but from my computer as well. Of course there is nothing to stop me downloading it again, but for now it is not on any of my devices, and I have instead chosen to start reading some of the many books I have longed to read for quite some time.

For years and years I was a voracious reader. I have a house full of books and dreamed of one day having a dedicated library in my house. I have been known to sit up all night to finish a book. And then start another. And another. In the past I was banned from starting books because I couldn’t put them down. Then the internet came along and I lost the habit, and then I discovered candy crush and got even better at numbing my emotions.

Today I started reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning – and I feel like I’ve come home. In the preface is a quote that isn’t even by Viktor Frankl, but I immediately knew this book is destined to change my life:

“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How”

These are words Frankl quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche but they resonate very powerfully with me, as I’m sure they do for many. Viktor Frankl was a renowned neurologist and psychiatrist and also survived the Auschwitz concentration camp in World War Two. His book – which I have only just begun – investigates his observations of the psychological aspects of those prisoners who survived by finding meaning in even the most brutal forms of existence, and a reason to continue living.

It may seem ridiculously shallow for me to compare any aspect of my life to the horrors faced by those interred in a Nazi concentration camp, but I do believe no matter who you are, where you are in life, or what you are experiencing, you need a Why.

Why am I here? Why do I want to stay?

And these whys are followed by whats.

What am I doing? What is the meaning of my life?

Because you know what? While I do believe that He who has a Why to live for, can bear almost any How. I also believe that She who has no why to live for, cannot bear any How.

Without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no purpose. And when we are young the purpose and meaning is really easy to see – or at least it was for me. As I got older, the purpose and meaning has vanished and my role now is to seek these things.

I have quite a bit of time off over the coming months and I shall enjoy burying myself in some books to see if I can find a little purpose and meaning.

Oh – I forgot. There is more than one reason why reading – and ditching candy crush – is a good thing. As my writing course with Joanne Fedler will commence on 01 January 2018 – and 01 January 2018 is now a mere ten days away – I have set myself a goal of reading and writing on a daily basis. I cannot expect to be a writer if I am not a reader. And a current reader at that.

And of course reading is going to be a wonderful way to work on improving my mental health – rather than wallowing in self pity or hiding away. I view it as a very positive step in the right direction. I have been collecting a lot of digital books for quite some time (and hard copy books as well) and I hope I can reconnect with my once voracious reading habits.

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  1. I covered Frankl in my Psych degree and other personal reading after that, but never Man’s Search for Meaning – I’ll have to add this to my NY to-read list! Congrats on getting off Candy Crush and into a book! x

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