Viktor Frankl (March 26, 1905 — September 2, 1997), was a renowned Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist, and a Holocaust survivor.
Frankl developed a form of existential analysis that later provided the foundational principles for positive psychology — logotherapy. Logotherapy is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of any human is to find a meaning in life.
In 1942. Frankl and his family were sent to concentration camps. He first lost his wife, then his father died of starvation and pneumonia. In 1944, the rest of the family was moved to Auschwitz. There, his mother and brother were killed.
As Frankl witnessed the cruelty, pain and degradation around him, he realized that in spite of all those atrocities, life still had a meaning. He managed to survive a horrible experience so that he could teach others to find a meaning and a purpose in life, regardless of what happens to them.
Here are 60 Viktor Frankl Quotes on Love and Meaning (Author of Man’s Search For Meaning)
Viktor Frankl Quotes: Man’s Search for Meaning
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.
In a word, 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.
So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.
I do not forget any good deed done to me and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.
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.
A man’s concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease.
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.
What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.
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.
Fear makes come true that which one is afraid of.
It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.
There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose.
As for the concept of collective guilt, I personally think that it is totally unjustified to hold one person responsible for the behavior of another person or a collective of persons.
Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with. I should say having been is the surest kind of being.
For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.
Life can be made meaningful in a threefold way: first, through what we give to life… second, by what we take from the world… third, through the stand we take toward a fate we no longer can change…
Since Auschwitz, we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima, we know what is at stake.
Regardless of what happens to you, you can always choose to be grateful by imagining how it could have been worse!
It is this spiritual freedom — which cannot be taken away — that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.
Not every conflict is necessarily neurotic; some amount of conflict is normal and healthy.
We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles — whatever one may choose to call them — we know: the best of us did not return.
Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.
Viktor Frankl quotes on happiness
It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.
Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.
Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.
Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you try catch it, the more it flies away. If you focus on other things, it will come and sit on your shoulder.
I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.
A life of short duration could be so rich in joy and love that it could contain more meaning than a life lasting eighty years.
As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.
Viktor Frankl quotes on love
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
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.
Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.
Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.
Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.
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.
Viktor Frankl quotes on hope
We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.
Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight.
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.
I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.
Each of us carries a unique spark of the divine, and each of us is also an inseparable part of the web of life.
It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.
Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.
Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.
It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future. And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task.
Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.
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.
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
Viktor Frankl quotes on suffering
Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the ‘size’ of human suffering is absolutely relative.
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.
In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.
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.
Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less.
Despair is suffering without meaning.
The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear anymore — except his God.
To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.
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.
Pain is only bearable if we know it will end, not if we deny it exists.