25 Man’s Search for Meaning Quotes In the Face of Unspeakable Tragedy

These Man’s Search for Meaning quotes will help you better understand suffering, love, and life.

“How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?”

This was the complex and heartbreaking question that Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning, set out to answer.

The book depicts his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, while utilizing his psychotherapeutic method, to make sense of it all.

‘What is the meaning of life?’ is a question nearly every human will wonder at some point.

That point may come when we are facing the most traumatic experiences of our lives, or when we have an abundance of everything, and still cannot find happiness.

Understanding the meaning of life helps people to live with purpose and feel a sense of fulfillment.

Don’t forget to also check out these Viktor Frankl quotes on life, suffering and success.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Check out more inspirational quotes on our motivational quotes category page.

Man’s Search for Meaning quotes about suffering

1. “To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

2. “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

3. “Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

4. “In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

5. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

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6. “Once an individual’s search for a meaning is successful, it not only renders him happy but also gives him the capability to cope with suffering.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

7. “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 any more—except his God.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

8. “I believe that my handicap will only enhance my ability to help others. I know that without the suffering, the growth that I have achieved would have been impossible.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

9. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

10. “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning quotes about freedom and change

11. “It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

12. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

13. “Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

14. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

15. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

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16. “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning quotes about life

17. “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

18. “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on.” ― Victor E. Frankl

19. “A man who could not see the end of his “provisional existence” was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

20. “A man’s concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

21. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

22. “It is we ourselves who must answer the questions that life asks of us, and to those questions, we can respond only by being responsible for our existence.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

23. “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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

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24. “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. 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.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

25. “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 is his specific opportunity to implement it.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

What did you learn from these Man’s Search for Meaning quotes?

Frankl argues that people find the meaning of life in the everyday moments we live.

He concludes that life doesn’t stop having meaning because we are going through something unimaginable.

He also believed everyone in a dire condition had someone looking down on them.

That might be a friend, family member, or spiritual deity, who would not want to be disappointed in our behavior.

Frankl’s experience as a prisoner leads to his conclusion that we do not base psychological reactions on simply the conditions of our lives.

The freedom of choice a person feels they have, even in their darkest times, must be factored into the equation.

Hope, optimism, and our spiritual connection all help us persevere and keep going, or searching for meaning.

The book is an excellent read and has been called one of the most influential books of all time.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Man’s Search for Meaning quotes and lines?

Share your thoughts on Frankl’s assessment, or your own search for meaning, in the comment section below.

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