10 Lessons From Viktor Frankl About Facing Adversity

10 Lessons From Viktor Frankl About Facing Adversity

Last update: 25 April, 2016

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and writer, was put into Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps during World War II. Through that experience, he developed a philosophy of life that he would express in several books, especially in Man’s Search for Meaning.

He founded logotherapy or existential analysis. The term derives from “logos”, coined by Heraclitus of Ephesus in the sixth century B.C., which Viktor Frankl refers to as “meaning,” thus logotherapy is therapy that focuses on discovering the meaning of life for every person. It is a therapy that is used for people who suffer existential problems, or some deep personal crisis to change.

We all go through situations in life that cause us suffering which we do not know how to deal with. There is no formula that works every time, but we must accept that suffering is part of life.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

These are some of the lessons Viktor Frankl taught us:

1. The importance of choosing

People who know how to overcome their problems and face adversity decide, choose to their path, despite the conditions that they must experience.


2. Life has meaning in all circumstances

Doctor Frankl speaks of despair in this sense as a mathematical operation. Despair is equivalent to suffering without purpose. If a person cannot find meaning in their suffering, they will tend to despair. But if the person is able to find meaning in adversity, they can turn their tragedies into an achievement, as a way of overcoming.

“Loving oneself is the starting point of the growth of the person who feels the courage to take responsibility for their own existence.”

-Viktor Frankl-

3. Your daily actions turn you into the best version of yourself

Every day we must ask ourselves who we are and who we want to be, in order to become the best version of ourselves.

4. Think about for whom or what live is worth living

We all have a why, a reason that keeps us going each day, that motivates us and gives meaning to every second of our existence, every step or every action we take.

If we are powerless to change the situation, we can always choose our attitude towards that situation. That is, there is something within us that allows us to change how we feel. There is always a part of ourselves that depends only on us.

It doesn’t matter that we do not expect anything from life, but rather if life expects something from us. Think about what you add to life and about what life expects of you because our lives challenge us and demand from us continuously.

What we must ask ourselves is what we can do to change our lives, what we bring to the world and react accordingly.

5. Adversity and suffering exist

Bad things exist in life, and we must accept this. Adversity creates a tension between what has already been achieved and what still remains to be achieved. We must simply know that challenges exist, that they are a part of life and that we must fight for something worthwhile, something that makes sense.

“Being what we are and becoming what we are capable of being the only purpose of life”.

-Robert Louis Stevenson-


6. No one is indispensable, but we are all irreplaceable

When we accept that we are irreplaceable, our sense of responsibility to our own experience shifts. A man who becomes aware that a person is expecting something of him or that he has unfinished work, takes responsibility and knows why; the meaning of his life.

Discover the meaning of your life

Man’s interest is not to find pleasure or to avoid pain, but to find the meaning of life. Even in times when we suffer, we must find a meaning for that suffering.

No one can put themselves in your place and suffer for you, so your only opportunity is the attitude you adopt towards suffering. We all have a reason, but sometimes, we are not aware of that reason.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.