If you’ve never heard of Viktor Frankl, then allow us to introduce you to the man that revolutionized the way we view the meaning of life. Viktor Frankl quotes mostly revolve around decision-making and freedom. Not an easy feat for a normal person – but Viktor’s life was far from normal.
Born in Austria in 1905, he was one of the millions of people taken to Europan concentration camps during The Second World War. While the level of suffering and pain he endured there is not something we can ever come close to imagining, it did change the way he viewed life forever. From that experience, Logotherapy was born. A type of psychotherapy that stated the search for life’s meaning was the single biggest human motivator.
His teachings about finding the deeper meaning in discomfort and struggle, and using that to impulse you forward, are lessons everyone should learn. To help you master these concepts, we collected 10 of his very best quotes on the subject.
1. On how to deal with the inevitability of pain
Look, we know. No one wants to waker up and face a day of pain and agony, but while there are different degrees of it, it’s also an inevitable aspect of life. What Viktor is trying to explain in this case, is that we can learn to navigate it if we focus on the fact that it will not last. Nothing in this life is forever, not the good or the bad. And so, denying the existence of pain will do nothing to make the situation easier. But remembering that those feelings have an expiry date will make it much easier.
2. On the power you hold
This is one of the Viktor Frankl quotes that inspire us to change! Have you ever found yourself in a routine that makes you unhappy, but stayed in it because you’d already invested so much time into it? If you answered yes, then you’re not alone. Lots of people feel that once their circumstances are set it’s either too hard, or impossible, to change them. But the funny thing about life is that there are really no set rules on how to live it. You have no obligation to stay at that job, or in that relationship. You can truly wake up one day and decide to change it. You hold 100% of the freedom.
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3. On trying even if you fail
There will be more than one moment in your life where you’ll try for something only to fail. You might find yourself at that point feeling discouraged. Maybe you’ll even feel like the amount of effort you put in was pointless if it wasn’t going to work out anyway. But, and this is the big secret, you should do it anyway. Why? Because we learn the most from failing, not from winning. Every time you fail you have an opportunity to learn something new. When you win without failing you don’t get to develop a ton of helpful skills like resilience or your ability to deduct things.
4. On thinking before you act
Viktor Frankl quotes like this one summarize his whole being. It’s said that your emotions only really last 5 seconds before they disappear from your brain. The idea that something can cause you long-lasting feelings is mostly because your brain keeps bringing the memory up, and causing those same emotions to come back to the surface. The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to center yourself in reality before reacting.
5. On never giving your power away
This is one of the most famous Viktor Frankl quotes from his book Man’s Search For Meaning. This is possibly one of Frankl’s most impactful quotes. Think about the insanely hard times he lived through. About how not only was he able to survive, but thrive and become a happy person. This is thanks to his ability to understand the power this life lesson holds. People can try to hurt you through words or actions, but only you have the power to allow that. No matter what happens, you will always have control over how you choose to respond.
6. On looking at things from different perspectives
Often times you’ll find yourself in the midst of a situation you have no control over. Maybe the weather is horrible so you can’t take your dog for a walk, or the traffic that day is just crazy. When faced with things you have no control over, the next logical step is to look towards what you can control. Yourself. You have the ability to switch how you look at the situation to try and see the silver lining. The excessive rain? More chances for trees to grow and the opportunity to cuddle your dog on the couch. The traffic? A chance to be alone and in silence, or to jam out to your favorite song.
7. On finding your reason to live, and holding on to it
This is another powerful lesson if we consider Viktor experienced one of the biggest horrors in history firsthand. How was he able to keep moving forward after what happened? And even more, how was he able to survive while it was taking place? He had a very clear vision of what his “why” was. Why he was alive, and why he was on this earth in the first place. That was all he needed to survive even the worst of situations.
8. On the true meaning of suffering
Everything in life has a deeper meaning, a reason for being. The good things are there to teach us how wonderful happiness and love can be. And, as hard as it might be to understand while it’s happening, the bad things come with lessons too. The hardest part is figuring out that deeper meaning because once you discover it pain and suffering become infinitely more bearable.
9. On what truly defines a person
We are always quick to blame our issues on external factors. In Frankl’s case, this could have been the fact that he was in a concentration camp. But, in his own words, it was the circumstances forced upon him that made him realize what he was truly made of. It was his own choices surrounding how he elected to experience those factors that showed him his true colors.
10. On the concept of good and bad
If we look at this quote from the simplest of ways it essentially means that in order for something to emit light, like a candle, it first needs to burn. In order for the good things to happen, the bad needs to take place as well. There can never be good without bad, light without shadows, or happiness without suffering. This is the balance of life.