Viktor Frankl Quotes to Help You Cope
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Viktor Frankl Quotes to Help You Cope

Man’s Search For Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl, is one of the top ten most influential books in the US. Written in 1946, Frankl writes about his experiences in Auschwitz concentration camp; and in part two of the book he discusses his theory of logotherapy, therapy of meaning. You might say his theories are life-friendly. They’re not some psychoanalytic constructs reserved for the students of the psyche; they are applicable ways of living a deeply meaningful and responsible life.
I will highlight some of his key ideas by way of some quotes.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

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?

“It is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.”

This is a whole different paradigm in how we view our life. We all expect certain things from life; all the ‘supposed to’s’. This is a shift away from the ‘me’ and what we’re entitled to, to the fact that we’re here for something – to do, to give, to utilize ourselves in something more and beyond ourselves. This is a great construct to help us when life throws us a curve ball out of left field and an unexpected challenge hits us in the face. What does life expect from me here, in this situation? This is a framework from which to cope.

“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”

It is a by-product of living a meaningful life, true to our values and beliefs.

“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 freedom.”

How we respond is up to us. It’s a choice. Oftentimes our response is the only thing over which we have control. It is within our power to be reactionary or responsive. Not necessarily easy but once we accept it’s up to us, then it’s doable. The ‘I can’t help how I respond, you made me’, keeps us victimized where we relinquish our power to the other.

“Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.”

Our resilience can help us cope and survive our adversity. We can transcend and live on despite our challenges.

“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.”

Our attitude is not necessarily what we’re born with. We can develop it and make it more positive to enhance our life journey. Again, choice is at play; it is our internal freedom.

These next two quotes are not Frankl’s but he refers to them in his book/theories.

“He who has a Why to live for can bear with almost any How.” (Nietzsche)

A sense of purpose can give us the ability to live on through our difficulties/losses/adversity. In its simplest version, we must have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And going beyond this, we need that driving force to keep us going so we can bear and cope with our hardship.

“I broke my neck; it didn’t break me.” (Jerry Long – student of Frankl)

Despite a tragic circumstance he carries on. His inner resources, resilience and spirit, carries him beyond his outward fate. A lesson in transcendence, in attitude, in response.

Which quote speaks to you? What’s your take on any of these? One of Frankl’s predominant themes here is Choice. How does choice play out for you in your life?

(Photo taken at Frankl Museum in Vienna)

3 thoughts on “Viktor Frankl Quotes to Help You Cope

  1. PCruise says:

    Been reading this for 35+ years. Timeless applications.

  2. rlnadmin says:

    Hi PCruise,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Absolutely timeless applications! I too have been reading it for a very long time – 40 + years. (ha, beat you!!!)

  3. HI Harriet, Just finished listening and sure enjoyed your interview with Jordon Ferber of Where’s the Grief fame. I loved how you both remind me that laugher is a way to find joy in life again. Jordon’s podcast has been instrumental in my healing after my sister died and listening to you both reminded me that we do have an obligation to tell our stories. His podcast has been one of the best things that have helped me support my self. I have recently found a ‘Grief Buddy’, also a woman whose sister died and we are helping each other prevail and tell our stories. We believe that supporting each other and helping ourselves cope is so beneficial. We know that finding even one person to help you laugh again, to help you be your ‘agent of change’ as Jordon says, is a natural way to find the real joy in life. Like you say you can’t feel sad and laughter at the same time and we found we both have found joy again. I’d love to talk to you about how Monica and I became Sibling Grief Buddies for your next book. 🙂 We both live on the west coast of Canada; are working on a Facebook group for siblings who grieve and You Tube Channel. We made a one hour Q&A video just to test the waters and have found siblings appreciate our down-to-earth and obvious joy we have with having a buddy. We have found our purpose, thank you for sharing yours with us. 🙂 Earla Dawn Legault

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