One of my favorite quotes is “He who has a WHY to live for, can bear with almost any HOW!” I’ve been quoting it for years; whenever life threw me a curve ball. Today I finally took the time to look it up and found that I’d actually been quoting Viktor Frankl (an amazing man who experienced that quote, first hand in a Nazi concentration camp). As I reread about him today, I was impressed by his positivity and his conviction, that life has meaning and purpose, even during the most trying of times. Read a short excerpt of his life’s story below and you’ll see what I mean.
Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D. (1905 – 1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust Survivor. Viktor survived four concentration camps, however his wife, parents and other family members were not so fortunate.
While in the concentration camps, Frankl, secretly kept a record of his observations. He later published these into a book. By the time of his death, Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, had been translated into 24 languages and reprinted 73 times and had been used as a standard text in high school and university courses in psychology, philosophy, and theology.
Viktor E. Frankl went on to become a world renown psychiatrist. He believed and taught that human beings consist of body, mind and spirit and that each person’s primary motivational force is to search for meaning, no matter how miserable the circumstances may be. He taught that even in life’s most difficult challenges, meaning and purpose can be found in the following ways:
- Suffering could be turned into human achievement and accomplishment.
- Guilt provides the opportunity to change oneself for the better.
- Life’s transient trials provide an opportunity to take responsible action.
- Life does not owe people happiness, it offers them meaning.
Frankl believed that finding meaning and happiness in life is a choice. It’s obvious, from the quotes below, that Frankl himself chose a life of meaning, despite the horrific challenges he had endured:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
“Among all living things, only we humans can envision our futures & play out mental scenarios of how we will make our visions a reality.”
“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman 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.”
“He who has a WHY to live for, can bear with almost any HOW!”
Viktor Frankl inspired me today. His story and words of wisdom made me want to try a little harder to discover and live my WHY!
What’s YOUR WHY?