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Life-changing insights from Viktor Frankl: 53 quotes to inspire your journey

viktor frankl quotes

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor who lived from 1905 to 1997. Because of his experiences and subsequent written works, he has garnered several thought-provoking quotes about finding meaning in life.

Viktor Frankl is best known for his development of logotherapy, a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the search for meaning in life as the primary motivator for human behavior.

During World War II, Frankl and his family were deported to Nazi concentration camps, where he spent several years enduring the horrific conditions of the camps, including Auschwitz. Despite the brutal and dehumanizing conditions he faced, Frankl was able to maintain a sense of hope and purpose, and he used his experiences as a basis for his later work on logotherapy.

After the war, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he continued to develop his theories and practices. He authored numerous books, including “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which has been translated into multiple languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide. Frankl also founded the International Society of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis and was a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna.

Frankl’s contributions to the field of psychology have been widely recognized and he has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Oskar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the Grand Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria.

53 Viktor Frankle Quotes to inspire a more meaningful life

  1. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

  2. Decisions, not conditions, determine what a man is.

  3. Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

  4. Each of us carries a unique spark of the divine, and each of us is also an inseparable part of the web of life.

  5. What is to give light must endure burning.

  6. Despair is suffering without meaning.

  7. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.

  8. Faith is trust in ultimate meaning.

  9. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.

  10. Religion is the search for ultimate meaning.

  11. No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.

  12. You don’t create your mission in life – you detect it.

  13. I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.

  14. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.

  15. The more one forgets himself, by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love, the more human he is.

  16. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

  17. There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.

  18. For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

  19. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing–the last of human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

  20. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.

  21. Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.

  22. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

  23. I do the unpleasant tasks before I do the pleasant ones.

  24. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’

  25. 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 personal dedication to a cause greater.

  26. It is here that we encounter the central theme of existentialism: to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering

  27. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.

  28. Success is total self-acceptance.

  29. Even when it is not fully attained, we become better by striving for a higher goal.

  30. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.

  31. Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.

  32. An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.

  33. Pain is only bearable if we know it will end, not if we deny it exists.

  34. View life as a series of movie frames, the ending and meaning may not be apparent until the very end of the movie, and yet, each of the hundreds of individual frames has meaning within the context of the whole movie.

  35. Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.

  36. Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.

  37. The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.

  38. God is the partner of your most intimate soliloquies.

  39. Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.

  40. When a man cannot find meaning, he numbs himself with pleasure.

  41. Every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.

  42. The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.

  43. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

  44. Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

  45. In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.

  46. The point is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.

  47. Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.

  48. Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.

  49. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.

  50. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

  51. When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, his unique opportunity lies in the way he bears his burden.

  52. We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: 1. by doing a deed; 2. by experiencing a value; and 3. by suffering.

  53. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.

In addition to his contributions to psychology and psychotherapy, Frankl was also a prolific author and public speaker. He wrote more than 30 books and articles on topics ranging from logotherapy and existential analysis to spirituality and the human search for meaning. He also gave lectures and workshops all over the world, sharing his insights and experiences with audiences from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Frankl’s work on logotherapy and his personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor have had a profound impact on the fields of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. His ideas about the search for meaning in life and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own happiness and fulfillment have inspired millions of people around the world to live more purposeful and meaningful lives.

Today, Viktor Frankl is remembered as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, whose work continues to inspire and enlighten people from all walks of life. His legacy serves as a powerful reminder of the human capacity for resilience, hope, and personal growth in the face of even the most difficult circumstances.

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