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Most of us, at some point, have sat questioning the meaning of life.
It often happens at the most inconvenient of times, such as in the middle of the night. And consequently, leaves us restless and unable to sleep.
Why are we born? What is our purpose in life? And do penguins have knees? (which is also a very valid question at 2 in the morning!)
On the face of it, they're just a bunch of cliché questions that seemingly serve no purpose beyond robbing us of some much-needed sleep.
But maybe, we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss these thoughts. And instead, take the hint that subconsciously, we’re searching for more.
More fulfillment. More purpose. And more meaning in our lives.
The late Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor. He spent 3 years as a prisoner in the German concentration camps: A living nightmare that we will never truly understand.
But while many would give up hope in such dehumanizing conditions, Frankl used the time to cement his ongoing theory. He believed that we must each find the meaning of life in order to be motivated to live it. And this was evident within the camp.
Those who found meaning in their life found the fight for another day. Whether it be to support a fellow prisoner in their darkest moments or, in Frankl’s case, finish his manuscript, the purpose brought with it a much-needed lifeline.
We all need a path to walk; a goal to reach. It gives us drive and motivation. And the courage to keep going, even in our most miserable moments.
It’s working hard to get that promotion. It’s making that journey to reconnect with family. It’s helping out at the local animal shelter or making up an extra plate of food for your neighbor.
It’s the thing, or things, that drive you, no matter how great or small, to get up and get on. And gives meaning to your life, despite the difficulties and hardships.
Frankl’s work undoubtedly saved many lost souls, not only in the camp but on the outside too. His wisdom, his courage, and his desire to help those who were suffering are testament to the great man that he became.
And his influential words, such as these 35 Viktor Frankl quotes on challenges, suffering, and finding purpose, continue to resonate with people from around the world.
So let's begin.
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- “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.”
- “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”
- “The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.”
- “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather, the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
- “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
- “Despair is suffering without meaning.”
- “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life… Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
- “Pain is only bearable if we know it will end, not if we deny it exists.”
- “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.”
- “The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.”
- “Life asks of every individual a contribution, and it is up to that individual to discover what it should be,”
- “Man is originally characterized by his search for meaning rather than his search for himself.”
- “To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”
- “We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill.”
- “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”
- “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.”
“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
- “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
- “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.”
- “The meaning of life differs from man to man, and from moment to moment.”
- “In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it.”
- “No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny.”
- “Man can only find meaning for his existence in something outside himself.”
- “The point is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.”
- “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.”
- “Even when it is not fully attained, we become better by striving for a higher goal.”
- “Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.”
- “Nothing is likely to help a person overcome or endure troubles than the consciousness of having a task in life.”
- “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.”
- “When a man cannot find meaning, he numbs himself with pleasure.”
- “You don’t create your mission in life – you detect it.”
- “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.”
- “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.”
- “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
- “Unless we want to keep spinning our wheels, which many of us do because it’s easier than working towards change, we must work on ourselves. How can we respond differently? Can we view it through a different lens or reframe it? Can we find any opportunity within the challenge?”
The monotonous cycle of work, eat, sleep, and repeat is easy to fall into. Groundhog day becomes reality and the weeks turn into months of nothingness.
That is unless you take some time out and find a sense of purpose. It doesn’t need to be anything big and grand. And it doesn’t need to map out the next 30 years of your life.
But it does need to give your life meaning. To accompany you through the good days and hold you up through the bad. And if you’re not sure where to start, these Life Purpose Examples to Find Your True Purpose are full of inspiring ideas.
And if you want more inspirational quotes, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 55 Leap of Faith Quotes for Tough Times
- 45 Comforting Quotes to Share During Difficult Times
- 45 Sad Quotes That Will Get You Through Dark Times
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then check out and recite these 57 affirmations for success.
Rebel Jones has been writing from a young age. She first used poetry to organise words – the rhythm and flow brought peace to her chaos. But as she developed (both as a person and as a writer), she embraced her offbeat thought process and found her own style and tone. Writing is definitely her happy place and one that she’s happy to share with the world.