I am about to re-read Viktor Frankl's classic work Man's Search for Meaning, written after the author's ordeal in a Nazi concentration camp.
I was reminded of this book when finishing Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind last night, which contains a chapter on the importance of having meaning. Meaning is one of the six core traits Pink asserts are key to enduring contributions in the global economy (along with Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy and Play).
Our "main concern," Frankl wrote, "is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning" in our lives.
These words, composed more than 50 years ago, might at first blush seem dated in a society that can revolve around the quest for pleasure and the myriad commodities that pledge to assist us in the avoidance of suffering. But they are as timeless as each man and woman's restless search for the deeper sense of peace and purpose that no product, service or compulsion can supply. Indeed, the marketing culture teems with delightful distractions but cannot salve a soul that is distraught when the night grows quiet and the novelty expires.