Five years ago I lost it. Feeling intensely lonely and frustrated and needing something in the way of companionship, I sent out a cry for help.
It didn’t make sense that I was so lonely. I had just started doing a PhD in the United Kingdom with incredibly interesting people. I had started lecturing at universities in Europe. I had a job with a management consultancy that wanted to employ me full time after my PhD.
In short, my life was fantastic. Yet nothing could shake this deep feeling of loneliness in the pit of my gut.
Here’s a part of an email I sent to a friend at that time.
Five years on, I’m no longer lonely. I feel connected with outstanding people in my life who share my values. I’ve created a global platform with 40,000 members sharing their ideas. I’m enjoying the journey and I’m very grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life.
Looking back, it would be easy to say that quitting my PhD to create Ideapod was the action I took to address my feelings of loneliness by changing the circumstances in my life. Yet this isn’t the case.
Instead, I can pinpoint the one single thing that shifted the course of my life and helped me to deeply address my feelings of loneliness.
I read a book.
That’s right. A single book changed the course of my life. I devoured this book in a single day, and it impacted me deeply.
I didn’t know at the time how profound reading that book was, but looking back I can see it clearly.
The book was Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl, a psychoanalyst who was imprisoned in a concentration camp in the Second World War. The book describes his method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living.
The book taught me that I was in complete control of my life, not necessarily in terms of the circumstances I was dealt with, but in terms of how I chose to interpret what was happening.
The loneliness didn’t go away immediately, but this newfound perspective encouraged me to start making plans. To start committing to taking actions to move my life forward.
With some plans in place, I started to interpret my loneliness differently. My loneliness became the motivation to keep me moving forward.
Although there’s no substitute to reading this book, I’ve put together 20 quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning to give you a quick guide to what you may learn from reading it.
I hope you find this as inspiring as I did. Please let me know in the comments below, or by mentioning @justin in an idea on Ideapod.