73 Man’s Search For Meaning Quotes, Summary (Viktor Frankl)

Best QuotesQuotes On SufferingQuotes On LifeQuotes On Freedom – 3 main sources of meaning in lifeSummary

Here are 73 extraordinary Man’s Search For Meaning quotes.

You’ll also find a summary of the book at the end.

Warning: these will change your perspective on suffering forever.


During World War II, Victor Frankl spent 4 years as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.

But he didn’t suffer mentally.

And he even said his experience ultimately had positive outcomes.

Here are a few facts about the book:

  • 16 million copies sold
  • 40 000+ 5-star reviews on Amazon
  • Considered one of the most influential books of all time

I hope you’ll be inspired as much as I did by the quotes.

Let’s get started!

mans search for meaning viktor e frankl

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The Best Quotes From Man’s Search For Meaning

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl longer able change situation wisdom

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Viktor Frankl

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. Viktor Frankl

Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. Viktor Frankl

The sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Viktor Frankl

The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. Viktor Frankl

Man’s search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. Viktor Frankl

For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best. Viktor Frankl

The meaning of life is to help others find the meaning of theirs. Viktor Frankl


mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl decisions conditions determine wisdom

Decisions, not conditions, determine what a man is. Viktor Frankl

What is to give light must endure burning. Viktor Frankl

Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him — mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Viktor Frankl

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. Viktor Frankl

If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together. Viktor Frankl

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. Viktor Frankl

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior. Viktor Frankl

What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Viktor Frankl

Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary. Viktor Frankl

It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future. Viktor Frankl


mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl matters best situation wisdom

What matters is to make the best of any situation. Viktor Frankl

Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance. Viktor Frankl

People have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning. Viktor Frankl

Asked in a word, each man is questioned by life daily; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. Viktor Frankl

Nothing is irretrievably lost but everything irrevocably stored and treasured. Viktor Frankl


What Does Man’s Search For Meaning Say About Suffering?

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl suffering ceases finds sacrifice wisdom

Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. Viktor Frankl

At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence. Viktor Frankl

If on the other hand, one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude. Viktor Frankl

Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. Viktor Frankl

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. Viktor Frankl

When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden. Viktor Frankl

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. Viktor Frankl

No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them. Viktor Frankl


mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl life circumstances purpose wisdom

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. Viktor Frankl

A man’s concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease. Viktor Frankl

Sunday neurosis, that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest. Viktor Frankl

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 life. Viktor Frankl

Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now. Viktor Frankl

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. Viktor Frankl

Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even things of which I am most proud, though these are the things which cannot inspire envy. Viktor Frankl

A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. Viktor Frankl

What Does Man’s Search For Meaning Say About Life, Happiness?

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl life dentist over already wisdom

Life is like being at the dentist. You always think that the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already. Viktor Frankl

What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you. Viktor Frankl

Once an individual’s search for a meaning is successful, it not only renders him happy but also gives him the capability to cope with suffering. Viktor Frankl

The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any more. Viktor Frankl

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. Viktor Frankl

Our current mental-hygiene philosophy stresses the idea that people ought to be happy, that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. Such a value system might be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy. He is not only unhappy but also ashamed of being unhappy. Viktor Frankl

Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn. Viktor Frankl

No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. Viktor Frankl

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl matters general specific moment wisdom

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. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent. Viktor Frankl

In the long run I say – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it. Viktor Frankl

For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. Viktor Frankl

Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. Viktor Frankl

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence. Viktor Frankl

What [man] needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. Viktor Frankl

As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness, but rather in search of a reason to be happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation. Viktor Frankl

No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same. Viktor Frankl

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. Viktor Frankl

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl spiritual freedom purposeful wisdom

It is the spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful. Viktor Frankl

Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man – his courage and hope, or lack of them – and the state of immunity of his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect. Viktor Frankl

It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds. Viktor Frankl

What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. Viktor Frankl

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater. Viktor Frankl

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. Viktor Frankl

I do not forget any good deed done to me and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one. Viktor Frankl


What Does Man’s Search For Meaning Say About Freedom?

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl everything taken human freedoms attitude wisdom

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Viktor Frankl

You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you. Viktor Frankl

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor Frankl

It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions. Viktor Frankl

Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. Viktor Frankl

mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl human freedom change wisdom

Every human being has the freedom to change at any instant. Viktor Frankl


mans search for meaning quotes viktor frankl demand heroism oneself wisdom

One may only demand heroism of one person, and that person is oneself. Viktor Frankl

What Are The Three Main Sources Of Meaning In Life According To Viktor Frankl?

We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. Viktor Frankl

Summary of Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  • Man’s Search For Meaning is a powerful book.
  • Who is this book for? People who struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
  • What is the main message? Man can find happiness and purpose, even through suffering.
  • Another message from the book? You always have a choice on how you will react to things.
  • Viktor Frankl spent 4 years in a Nazi concentration camp and found meaning. It means you can do it too.
  • This book is for you if:
    • you are suffering
    • you are feeling lost
    • you want to read an inspiring story.

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Further Readings

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I hope you enjoyed these great quotes from Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frank.

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