55 of the Most Inspirational Viktor Frankl Quotes

Viktor Frankl Man's Search for Meaning Quotes

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatristic. He created logotherapy (healing through meaning), which he considered a branch of existentialism. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who wrote 39 books, but is best known for his international best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which was based on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. This book is still so widely known it remains on Amazon’s “Top 100 Books” list.

Logotherapy is designed to help people find meaning in their lives, although a specific meaning is not given. Frankl saw three primary ways in which a human could find their purpose: “Creative Values,” “Experiential Values,” and “Attitudinal Values.” Creative values are those ways people help others with their gifts; experiential values are those experiences, like love, that help humans find meaning; and attitudinal values are those values that help people be their best in bad circumstances.


Victor Frankl Quotes – Man’s Search For Meaning

Here are 55 of Viktor Frankl’s most inspirational quotes.

  1. “What is to give light must endure burning.”
  2. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
  3. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
  4. “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
  5. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
  6. “Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.”
  7. “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.”
  8. “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
  9. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
  10. “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
  11. “We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents…sometimes the ‘unfinished’ are among the most beautiful symphonies.”
  12. “I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”
  13. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
  14. “Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.”
  15. “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.”
  16. “What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms.”
  17. “Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.”
  18. “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.”
  19. “A man’s concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease.”
  20. “Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”
  21. “A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth-that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man can aspire.Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of humanity is through love and in love.”
  22. “The meaning of life is to give life meaning.”
  23. “Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”
  24. “The point is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.”
  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 than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
  26. “Since Auschwitz, we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima, we know what is at stake.”
  27. “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on.”
  28. “If you call ‘religious’ a man who believes in what I call a Supermeaning, a meaning so comprehensive that you can no longer grasp it, get hold of it in rational intellectual terminology, then one should feel free to call me religious, really.”
  29. “At such a moment, it is not the physical pain which hurts the most (and this applies to adults as much as to punished children); it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all.”
  30. “The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.”
  31. “Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.”
  32. “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.”
  33. “In his creative work the artist is dependent on sources and resources deriving from the spiritual unconscious.”
  34. “Logotherapy sees the human patient in all his humanness. I step up to the core of the patient’s being. And that is a being in search of meaning, a being that is transcending himself, a being capable of acting in love for others.”
  35. “At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.”
  36. “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.”
  37. “We do not ask life what the meaning of life is. Life asks us, what is the meaning of your life. And life demands our answer.”
  38. “Not every conflict is necessarily neurotic; some amount of conflict is normal and healthy. In a similar sense suffering is not always a pathological phenomenon; rather than being a symptom of neurosis, suffering may well be a human achievement, especially if the suffering grows out of existential frustration… Existential frustration is neither pathological or pathogenic.”
  39. “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.”
  40. “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.”
  41. “Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him—mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.”
  42. “Each of us carries a unique spark of the divine, and each of us is also an inseparable part of the web of life.”
  43. “Faith is trust in ultimate meaning.”
  44. “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer… his unique opportunity lies in the way he bears his burden.”
  45. “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.”
  46. “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.”
  47. “Even when it is not fully attained, we become better by striving for a higher goal.”
  48. “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.”
  49. “Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.”
  50. “Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.”
  51. “A positive attitude enables a person to endure suffering and disappointment as well as enhance enjoyment and satisfaction. A negative attitude intensifies pain and deepens disappointments; it undermines and diminishes pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction; it may even lead to depression or physical illness.”
  52. “[T]here are two races of men in this world, but only these two — the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.”
  53. “Life is like being at the dentist. You always think that the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already.”
  54. “The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words.”
  55. “Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension, a world beyond man’s world; a world in which the question of an ultimate meaning of human suffering would find an answer?”

Related: Man’s Search for Meaning Quotes

Summary

Viktor Frankl watched men in Nazi concentration camps work to comfort others. This demonstrated to him that humans can choose their actions and reactions, regardless of their situation. He strongly felt that life has a purpose, and that each individual can find that purpose.

Frankl’s work inspired the positive psychology movement and helped millions live better lives. Use these inspiration quotes to help you remember that life may not be perfect, but you can choose how you will act.


Related: Ryan Holiday’s Most Interesting Quotes

Image Credit: Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)

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