You should read this book if you want to discover how one finds meaning in his or her life even when everything is stripped away. A survivor of Auschwitz, Viktor teaches us that meaning is possible inspite of suffering.
- Life is primarily not a quest for pleasure, or power, but meaning.
- Possible sources of meaning can come from work (doing something significant), love (caring for another person) or finding courage during difficult times (the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering).
- Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.
- Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
- In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honourable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfilment. That is, loving memories.
- An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realise values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfilment in experiencing beauty, art or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behaviour: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.
- Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on.
- A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears towards a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He who knows the ‘why’ for his existence will be able to bear with almost any ‘how’.
- We may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two – the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man.
- Logotherapy: Meaning (logos) of human existence and a man’s search for such a meaning.
- What a man needs is not a tensionless state (homeostasis) but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal.
- Progressive automation will lead to an enormous increase in leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these workers will not know what to do with their newly acquired free time.
- There are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning in life. The first is by creating work or by doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love. Experiencing can be as valuable as achieving. Most important, however, is the third avenue to meaning in life: even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph. In this way, meaning is available in spite of-nay, even through-suffering, provided, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it’s avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is to remove its cause, for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If, on the other hand, one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude. Suffering is not necessary to finding meaning, only that meaning is possible in spite of suffering.