Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl's Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work
World-renowned psychiatrist Viktor Franklâ€s Manâ€s Search for Meaning is one of the most important books of modern times. Â Alex Pattakosâ€”who Frankl urged to write this book--applies Franklâ€s philosophy and therapeutic approach to life and work in the 21st Century, detailing seven principles for increasing your capacity to deal with life-work challenges, finding meaning in your daily life and work, and achieving your highest potential. This updated and expanded second edition includes new personal stories, new data on meaning, a new chapter on the difference meaning makes in peopleâ€s lives, and new exercises to help apply the seven principles.
Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
Alex Pattakos Ph.D.
July 09, 2010
Average Customer Rating:
based on 113 reviews
Average Customer Review:
( 113 customer reviews )
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
182 of 196 found the following review helpful:
Practical path to peaceMay 02, 2005
By Charles Runels Md
"research physician & father of 3 sons"
This book helps make practical a very nebulous but valuable skill. Let me explain:
About 29 years ago, as a teenager, while roaming the Birminham Public Library, I picked up a worn copy of Victor Frankl's book about man's search for meaning. I vividly remember where I was standing, think I could almost go to the spot on the shelf where I found the book; I think the memory lives clearly because as I scanned through the book, I became haunted with the images that came from its pages and moved by the strength of which it testified. I sat down, read more, took the book home, and never forgot the lesson.
When I worked as a janitor in high school at a local gym, I tried to find meaning by framing my work as helping provide a wholesome environment for children. When I worked as a cook at Hardee's, I was helping keep families together by providing a convenient and affordable place to escape and relax. When I worked alone as a chemist on army contracts, I was helping preserve freedom. When I worked as an ER physician, the value of saving lives was plain but then the challenge was to find meaning in the suffering around me.
These examples (from my work life) show what I strove for; but the practical, every-day accomplishment of finding meaning in the pain, drudgery, and short-term injustice that swirls around me and everyone I know has not always been a task at which I've been successful. Sometimes, I left the gym nasty and tired and just angry at how inconsiderate people can be. Sometimes I left the ER angry and confused that innocent people came to me in pain and disease at no fault of their own: how do you hold responsible a child molested, a young mother killed by a drunk driver, the crying child with sickle cell disease, the gasping child with cystic fibrosis?
You don't hold them responsible. And as you wade through the pain of the ER working with nurses and technicians with their own problems, sometimes it feels as if the world is thick with pain and thin with meaning.
In looking for meaning in suffering, I've found some help in Boethius' book "Consolation of Philosophy," in William James' "Pragmatism," in Oswald Chambers' "The Christian Disciplines," in the scriptures of the Holy Bible and the Bagavad Gita as well as in Frankl's writings. This book by Dr. Pattakos belongs on the shelf with those books as a classic about how to find meaning instead of power or pleasure and then uncover joy in meaning.
I write this reverently with the awareness that I'm immature in these matters--I've looked into the face of a quadraplegic man, bed bound for over 20 years, and heard him talk eloquently about how his accident was good fortune because it brought him closer to GOD; I don't know if I could do that. I've had to tell the mother that her child didn't live and watched her accept the news with strength and peace. I've seen this and more and so know that some do find meaning in situations heavy with pain. This is the skill that this book teaches: the skill of finding peace and meaning and the resultant deep joy.
The model used by Dr. Pattakos is the working life: how to find meaning at work. Like swinging two bats before walking to the plate to swing one, Dr. Pattakos draws from Dr. Frankl's writings about severe pain and unbelievable injustice to develop a pattern for finding meaning in the often painful pathways at work. The exercises make practical the every-day application of finding meaning and so uncovering joy and effectiveness. Simple exercises that take only a few minutes help plant each chapter in the fiber of thought and peel back the dirty details to the core meaning of work. Practical, easy exercises to help develop a valuable skill of mind and soul.
--Charles Runels, MD
Author of "Anytime...for as Long as You Want: Strength, Genius, Libido, & Erection by Integrative Sex Transmutation"
37 of 37 found the following review helpful:
From the Innovation Road Map MagazineMay 06, 2005
By Paul A. Schumann Jr. I was looking forward to reading this book when I found that Alex Pattakos had written it. I was not disappointed. I looked forward to reading the book because it was based, at least in part, upon Frankl's classic Man's Search for Meaning. I read and studied Frankl's book 25 years ago at a particularly low spot in my life - my younger brother, Bill, had died suddenly of a heart attack when he was only 40. My father was quite ill with heart disease, and I was about to be diagnosed with cancer. What was the meaning of life? Frankl's answer to that question influenced me in many ways, more than I ever realized until I read Pattakos's book. Since I had not read Frankl in over twenty years, I could now see how his teaching had informed my life.
This is a great book - probably one of the best books on work life yet written. I read the book in one sitting (something I've never done before), marking the book and making numerous notes. I intend to give it to my friends as gifts.
Pattakos writes in his preface, " This book deals with the human quest for meaning and, therefore, was written with you in mind. It is grounded firmly in the philosophy and approach of the world-renowned psy-chiatrist, Viktor Frankl, author of the classic bestseller, Man's Search far Meaning (named one of the ten most influential books in America by the Library of Congress). Frankl, a sur-vivor of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, is the founder of Logotherapy, a meaning-centered and humanistic approach to psychotherapy. His ideas and experi-ences related to the search for meaning have significantly influenced people around the world. In this book, you will find a conceptual foundation, as well as practical guidance, for examining your own questions about meaning in your work and everyday life.
The goal of this book, moreover, is to bring meaning to work-that is, to do for the domain of work what Frankl, as a psychiatrist, was able to do for psychotherapy. Because I am defining the notion of "work" very broadly, the message in this book applies to a very broad audience as well. In fact, it applies to volunteers as well as to paid workers; to people working in all sectors and industries; to retirees; to individuals beginning a job search or career; and to those in "transition." And, because this book demonstrates how Frankl's principles actually work in a generic context, its message can be applied to everyday living too. In this regard, besides introducing you to Frankl's core ideas about life, the book is filled with examples, stories, exercises, and practical tools that can help guide you on your path to finding meaning at work and in your personal life.
It was in a meeting with Frankl at his home in Vienna, Austria, in August 1996, when I first proposed the idea of writing a book that would apply his core principles and approach explicitly to work and the workplace, to the world of business. Frankl was more than encouraging when, in his typically direct and passionate style, he leaned across his desk, grabbed my arm, and said: "Alex, yours is the book that needs to be written!" As you can imagine, I felt that Frankl's words had been branded into the core of my being, and I was determined, from that moment forward, to make this book idea a reality. And so it is."
We are by nature, creatures of habit. We seek to identify and stay within comfort zones. These comfort zones are patterns of thoughts. As we repeat these patterns of thought over and over again. We begin to believe that life happens to us and limit our own potential. We become prisoners of our own thoughts.
"Viewing life as inherently meaningful and literally unlimited in potential requires a shift in consciousness," writes Pattakos. "It also requires responsible actions on our part for, as Frankl points out, the potential meaning that exists in each moment of life can only be searched for and detected by each of us individually. This responsibility he says is 'to be actualized by each of us at any time, even in the most miserable situations and literally up to the last breath of ourselves.'"
We choose how we respond to life. "...life doesn't happen to us. We happen to life; and we make it meaningful."
Pattakos discusses not only personal transformation, but also the transformation of work itself. "The transformation of work in the twenty-first century is, in many respects, a call for humanity - a new consciousness that suggests more than simply trying to strike a balance between our work and our personal life. It is a call to honor our own individuality and fully engage our human spirit at work - wherever that may be."
"The goal of this book is to bring meaning to work...," writes Pattakos. I believe he does an excellent job in this 187-page book full of wisdom and insights. It is a must read.
The book is divided into eleven chapters - Life Doesn't Just Happen to Us, Viktor Frankl's Lifework and Legacy, Labyrinths of Meaning, Exercise the Freedom to Choose Your Attitude, Realize Your Will to Meaning, Detect the Meaning of Life's Moments, Don't Work Against Yourself, Look at Yourself form a Distance, Shift Your Focus of Attention, Extend Beyond Yourself and Living and Working with Meaning.
Pattakos has synthesized more than just Frankl's Search for Meaning. He has read and studied most of Frankl's work and interviewed Frankl himself. He occupies a unique position to write this book.
"All human beings, Frankl would say, ultimately have both the freedom and responsibility to position themselves along two key dimensions of life," writes Pattakos. These two key dimensions are success-failure and despair-meaning. Where are you right now in this continuum? Are you where you want to be?
"There is something in us that can rise above and beyond everything we think possible. Our instinct for meaning, at work and in our daily life, is ours right now, at this very moment. As long as we are not a prisoner of our thoughts," concludes Pattakos.
51 of 56 found the following review helpful:
Adds little to works of Viktor Frankl.Oct 22, 2005
By GPK I bought this book because I was impressed by the books of Viktor Frankl and I thought: if this book contains half the wisdom of the Frankl books then it is worth its price. I was disappointed.
I am convinced that the author had the best intentions, but his book simply depends too much on Frankl's work: first the author takes some quotes from Frankl's book, then proceeds to explain this using a contemporary 'business situation' (just a story) and adds some of his own thoughts. If you have read Frankl's book you constantly realise you already know what you are reading. The author's own thoughts make up perhaps 10% of the book. For any book I think the reason to buy it should be that the author makes an original contribution to the subject, and not because the author is capable of explaining other people's ideas who have already done so extensively.
Bottom line: if you are unfamiliar with the work of Frankl, then this book contains a lot of valuable insight. But in that case I would recommend reading Frankl's books first. And if you have already read Frankl's books, then this book has little added value.
16 of 17 found the following review helpful:
A thoughtful & powerful corporate guide for breaking free from old patterns of thought!Oct 09, 2006
By Lee Say Keng
"KNOWLEDGE ADVENTURER/TECHNOLOGY EXPLORER"
Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl's Principles at Work by Dr Alex Pattakos
I have been attracted to this wonderful book because I have been inspired by the life story of Dr Viktor Frankl, particularly the unspeakable horrors of his forced imprisonment at the Auschwitz concentration camps during the Second World War. That horrendous period of his life was captured in his book, 'Man's Search for Meaning', which I have reviewed earlier.
Using the inspirations from Dr Viktor Frankl's work, the author has very artfully drawn from his own personal observations, & experiences, the testimonials & quotations, & other anecdotes to create a thoughtful & powerful corporate guide for breaking free from old patterns of thought & action. In this respect, he has done quite a remarkable job.
Although I have earlier picked up several learning points on my own, based on my own review of Dr Frankl's book, & after watching Joel Barker's 'The Power of Vision' video (which has a vital segment on Dr Frankl's life story), I am very impressed by the author's discovery of many further principles which could be applied in our own lives. In a nut shell, they are:
- exercise the personal freedom to choose our attitude or outlook; - realise our will to meaning or significance; - detect the meaning of life's moments & questions; - don't work against ourself; - look at ourself from a distance; - shift our focus of attention or maintain fluidity of perception; - extend beyond ourself;
Having read (& reviewed) Dr Frankl's 'Man's Search for Meaning' earlier actually facilitates my smooth digestion of Dr Pattakos' unique intellectual contemplations & deliberations as embodied in his wonderful 'Prisoners of Our Thoughts'.
I strongly recommend reading it, especially if you want to expand your own ability to change the quality of your work life as well as personal life.
[Readers who are keen to explore further the work of the author, Dr Alex Pattakos, &/or the work of Dr Viktor Frankl, should visit the globaldialoguecenter website. At the website, you can also view the segment covering Dr Viktor Frankl from Joel Barker's 'The Power of Vision' video.]
25 of 31 found the following review helpful:
STOP COMPLAINING; ADJUST AND MAKE BETTER CHOICES!Nov 23, 2004
By Dorothy Weiss "We are free to choose our responses to everything that happens in our lives, including those things that happen through our work," writes author Alex Pattakos. His anecdotes, and exercises demonstrate how to find meaning in our personal lives as well as in the workplace where we spend so much of our time indulging in the negative habit of chronic complaining. "Prisoners of our Thoughts" offers insight into taking control of our lives, breaking destructive habits, and creating opportunities for contentment and success. Remember Norman Vincent Peale's "POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING?". Alex Patakos takes that concept to the next level, gives indepth practical tools, and expands on our own ability to change the quality of our lives. It's really is in our hands. We don't have to dwell in the perpetual, "boo- hoo poor me, victim consciousness." Well written and insightful
We are showing you the most current and relevant reviews. In total there are 113 customer reviews for this item.