Viktor Frankl's Sayings: Love, Meaning, and Courage
Viktor Frankl’s sayings are great lessons in life; his words fill us with hope when our world becomes gray and there seems to be no way out. And not just because of the words themselves, but because they’re the fruit of his own personal history and experience.
Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist, and philosopher and the creator of speech therapy. He experienced the horrors of the Holocaust with his own eyes when he was a prisoner in several Nazi concentration camps. In fact, from that experience, he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, his best-known book and the account of how he faced terrible adversity.
Throughout his works, Viktor Frankl teaches us the importance of a life with sense and meaning. He emphasizes the need to transform ourselves when we can’t change the circumstances around us.
Without a doubt, Frankl is an example of resilience and self-improvement that left a great legacy we can remember with some of his best sayings.
Viktor Frankl’s sayings
The courage of tears
“There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a person had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of courage. Tears carry with them the courage to express our emotions and how we feel. They help us release the things that are choking us and tying us up inside; they can speak when words aren’t enough to express the overflow of our soul.
Tears help us let off steam, communicate, and tell others that we’re suffering, that we’re not well, and show people what we’re really like. Tears are a call for empathy and support from others.
The search for meaning in life
“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”
For Viktor Frankl, the search for the meaning of life is the essence of life. Thus, when people can’t find it, then power and pleasure become the main driving forces of their behavior. These start to govern a person’s life and, in turn, lead to meaninglessness and the experience of existential emptiness.
This happens because the person converts the search for happiness into an end in itself. They submerge themselves in spirals of pleasure that will never fill them and will simply be a patch to momentarily anesthetize their sufferings.
“Once an individual’s search for meaning is successful, it not only renders them happy, but also gives them the capability to cope with suffering.”
Finding a purpose, and discovering the meaning of life, is truly transformative because everything changes, including the very ability to face adversity. If a person discovers the reasons why, then it’s possible to face all the questions of life, because their suffering then becomes a challenge.
“The meaning of my life is to help others find meaning in theirs.”
After his experience as a prisoner in the concentration camps and the loss of his family, Viktor Frankl was clear about his purpose: to help others find meaning and significance in their lives and to cope with emotional pain. And he did so because his whole approach revolved around the search for meaning.
The importance of not judging
“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.”
This is one of Viktor Frankl’s sayings that we should keep in mind at all times. We all tend to judge others almost every day. As soon as someone doesn’t act in the way we think they should, we tend to criticize them without even trying to understand them.
However, we tend to forget that every human being has their own story, circumstances, and experiences. And yet many people think they possess all the truth and that they know how to act in each and every situation.
The question is: are you sure of how you would act if you were in the other’s person’s shoes? Moreover, who are you to say what’s right or wrong? Are you better than others? These are the questions that Viktor Frankl’s sayings ask us all.
The power of attitude
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“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.”
These sayings from Viktor Frankl are among the best-known. Many authors and professionals use them in their speeches, books, and lectures to raise awareness of the importance of our attitude in the face of adversity and any circumstances that occur in our lives.
Often, you’ll have tried to make situations and people change, you’ll have tried everything to make life perfect, and to make everything happen as you’d like it to, but this, of course, isn’t possible. You have no control over most things in life, even though you’ll often act as if you do. However, you can choose your attitude to life, and that can’t be taken away from you.
You have the capacity to change yourself and choose where you want to go, how to react, and what to decide.
Love as truth
“I understood the truth poured into the songs of so many poets and proclaimed in the ultimate wisdom of so many thinkers. The truth that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.”
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of their personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless they love them. By their love, they are enabled to see the essential traits and features.”
Of all Viktor Frankl’s sayings, these are the ones with the greatest depth and wisdom. Love as truth, as a goal, and as a means of support for everyone. In fact, Frankl said that self-transcendence is only possible when human beings give themselves to someone or something else and forget about themselves.
As we can see, these sayings can’t leave anyone indifferent; they’re true life lessons. They’re words that you can use if you want to truly get to know yourself, move on in life, and never forget what’s truly important.