Victor Frankl on success, happiness and a cause greater than yourself

Are you making success or happiness one of your life’s goals? Either way, you should take a close look at the recommendations of psychiatrist and writer Victor Frankl. Somehow using the “always invert” style (that I associate with Charlie Munger), Frankl specifically states what NOT to do to achieve happiness and success in your life. Be ready to dive into a strong philosophic and existential approach: today’s article on Viktor Frankl presents a rather different approach towards success than  Albert E.N. Gray’s Common denominator of success.

Let’s take a look to an extract from Frankl’s exceptional book “Man’s search for meaning”: 

“Again and again I […] admonish my students both in Europe and in America: 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 into 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 precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”.

In an interview back in 1977, you could already hear the same structured line of thoughts. Somehow apologizing for “contradicting” the American Declaration of Independence – in which you find the phrase “Pursuit of Happiness” – he was stating the followings:

“I deem that the Pursuit of Happiness is a contradiction in terms, because happiness can never be really pursuit. Happiness must ensue, happiness is a side effect, happiness is a by-product and must remain a bi-product of meaningful fulfillment of your dedication to a task, a cause greater than yourself or a person rather than yourself [ aka IMPACT].

Check out this short video interview where doctor Frankl develops these thoughts. 

Interview to Viktor Frankl 2_2