What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life.
We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly.
Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct.
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.
These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment.
Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way.
Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements.
“Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete.
They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual.
No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny.
No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.
Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action.
At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way.
Sometimes man may be required simple to accept fate, to bear his cross.
Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.
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.
Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl (1905–1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, surviving Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Türkheim.
Frankl was the founder of logotherapy (literally „healing through meaning“) a meaning-centered school of psychotherapy, considered the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy following the theories developed by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.
Logotherapy is part of existential and humanistic psychology theories.
He is the author of over 39 books; he is most noted for his best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning based on his experiences in various Nazi concentration camps.