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Viktor Frankl Quotes on Life, Suffering and Success

Searching for the meaning behind life and suffering? These Viktor Frankl quotes give answers to some of life’s most thought-provoking questions. 

What’s your “why” in life? 

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist. He is most well known for his best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning, which illustrates his time as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.

Frankl created the concept of logotherapy, which the author describes as “the primary motivational source of an individual is to find meaning in life.” Many of us can relate to the constant pursuit of meaning in our lives, as we’re all constantly searching for our “why”. 

The Viktor Frankl quotes below highlight his interpretation of life’s many ups and downs. 

Also check out these Anne Frank quotes from her diary about life and hope.

Viktor Frankl quotes about 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.” – Viktor Frankl

2. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

3. “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.”  – Viktor Frankl

4. “If there is a 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 Frankl

5. “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

6. “Religion is the search for ultimate meaning.” – Viktor Frankl

7. “Evermore people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” – Viktor Frankl

8. “Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.” – Viktor Frankl

9. “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 Frankl

10. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

11. “No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.” – Viktor Frankl

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12. “To the European, it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy.’ But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.’” – Viktor Frankl

More Viktor Frankl quotes on life

13. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

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

15. “When a man cannot find meaning, he numbs himself with pleasure.” – Viktor Frankl

16. “God is the partner of your most intimate soliloquies.” – Viktor Frankl

17. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

18. “Each of us carries a unique spark of the divine, and each of us is also an inseparable part of the web of life.” – Viktor Frankl

19. “The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.” – Viktor Frankl

20. “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” – Viktor Frankl

21. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

22. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

23. “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.” – Viktor Frankl

24. “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.” – Viktor Frankl

25. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

You might also like these Holocaust quotes and sayings for remembering

Inspirational Viktor Frankl quotes

26. “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.” – Viktor Frankl

27. “Even a genius cannot completely resist his Zeitgeist, the spirit of his time.” – Viktor Frankl

28. “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

29. “Faith is trust in ultimate meaning.” – Viktor Frankl

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30. “Fear may come true that which one is afraid of.” – Viktor Frankl

31. “The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is.” – Viktor Frankl

32. “Pain is only bearable if we know it will end, not if we deny it exists.” – Viktor Frankl

33. “Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.” – Viktor Frankl

34. “Every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.” – Viktor Frankl

35. “Even when it is not fully attained, we become better by striving for a higher goal.” – Viktor Frankl

36. “You don’t create your mission in life – you detect it.” – Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl quotes about suffering

37. “When I was taken to the concentration camp of Auschwitz, a manuscript of mine ready for publication was confiscated. Certainly, my deep desire to write this manuscript anew helped me to survive the rigors of the camps I was in.” – Viktor Frankl

38. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.” – Viktor Frankl

39. “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer… his unique opportunity lies in the way he bears his burden.” – Viktor Frankl

40. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

41. “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 Frankl

42. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

43. “Despair is suffering without meaning.”  – Viktor Frankl

44. “To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” – Viktor Frankl

45. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl quotes about success

46. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

47. “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.’” – Viktor Frankl

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48. “Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.” – Viktor Frankl

49. “I do the unpleasant tasks before I do the pleasant ones.” – Viktor Frankl

50. “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.” – Viktor Frankl

More Viktor Frankl quotes and sayings

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

52. “What is to give light must endure burning.” – Victor Frankl

53. “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” – Viktor E. Frankl

54. “The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” – Viktor E. Frankl

55. “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.” – Victor Frankl

56. “Life is like being at the dentist. You always think that the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already.” – Viktor E. Frankl

57. “No one has the right to do wrong, even if wrong has been done to them.” – Viktor E. Frankl

58. “Life in a concentration camp tore open the human soul and exposed its depths.” – Viktor E. Frankl

59. “Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.” – Viktor E. Frankl

60. “Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.” – Viktor E. Frankl

What life lessons did you learn from these Viktor Frankl quotes?

As mentioned previously, Viktor Frankl believed that meaning in life can come from love, work, or suffering. As you push through obstacles throughout your own life, take time to think them over. You may be able to learn something valuable from them. 

It may take time and distance from those experiences to evaluate them accordingly. The lessons of some experiences may not be easily summed up. But, dedicating time to think over those problems can help you never make those mistakes again. 

Did we forget any thoughtful Viktor Frankl quote that you always come back to? Tell us your thoughts down below. 

Nia Simone McLeod
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  1. raj

    January 7, 2021 at 8:09 AM

    Amazing quotes. True for all time. Thanks for compiling them, keep up the good work!

  2. Q

    July 8, 2020 at 6:13 PM

    I just found these. I never knew of them. They are amazing. I thank God that Viktor Frankl was able to get these thoughts out to help so many. And thank you for putting them here.
    I am shocked that I am the first person to comment here… in 2020.

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