10 lessons from Viktor Frankl on adversity

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10 lessons from Viktor Frankl on adversity

Last update: 18 March, 2016

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and writer, was interned in Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps during the Second World War. This experience, combined with his training, allowed him to make a great reflection on the meaning of life, a thought that is the basis of many of his books, among which it is worth mentioning “In search of a meaning in life”.



He was the founder of logotherapy, otherwise known as "existential analysis". The term derives from “logos”, a word coined by Heraclitus and Ephesus in the XNUMXth century BC; Viktor Frankl used it as a synonym for "sense". In other words, speech therapy is a therapy that deals with discovering the meaning of life for each person. It is used with people who suffer from existential problems due to some radical change or a personal crisis.

In life, we all go through situations that make us suffer and that we don't know how to deal with; however, there is no formula that works every time: we have to accept that suffering is part of life.

"Whoever has a reason to live is able to endure anything".

(Friedrich Nietzsche)

The lessons that a person who has spent three years in a concentration camp, and has passed that experience can give us, must be considered to see life from another perspective and to motivate us every day. Here are some lessons from Viktor Frankl:

The importance of choosing

The difference between a person who knows how to overcome his problems and face the adversities of life and another who cannot is that the former is a person who makes decisions, who chooses to be one way or another, despite the conditions in which he is forced to live.



Life makes sense under any circumstance

Dr. Frankl speaks of despair as a mathematical operation. Despair equals suffering without purpose: if a person fails to make sense of his suffering, he will despair. If the individual, on the other hand, is able to make sense of adversity, he can transform his tragedies into a victory, into a form of overcoming.

"Love for oneself is the starting point for the growth of one who has the courage to take responsibility for his own existence".

(Viktor Frankl)

Your daily actions lead you to be the best version of yourself

This is a concept we must reflect on every day to know who we are and who we want to be, to become the best version of ourselves, to show the extraordinariness that is in each of us, so that others can also see it and can appreciate it.

Think for what or for whom it is worth living

We all have something or someone to live for, a reason that allows us to move forward day by day, which motivates us and gives meaning to every second of our existence, to our every step and every action. How we react to conditions that cannot be changed is up to us.

If we have no power to change a situation, we can always choose the attitude to take in the face of that circumstance. There is always something within us that we can change, which is how we feel about it; there is a part of us that depends only on us.


It doesn't matter if we don't expect anything from life, the important thing is if life expects something from us. Think about what you bring to life, what life expects of you, because it demands and constantly tests you.



You must ask yourself what you can do to change your life, what you bring to the world and then react accordingly.

Adversity and suffering exist

Negativity as part of our life exists and must be accepted. There is a kind of tension between what we have achieved and what we have not yet achieved. We do not need to live without difficulties, but to be aware that they exist, that they are part of life and that we have to fight for something that is worth it, that makes sense of what we do.

“Being who we are and becoming who we are capable of being is the only purpose of life”.

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

No one is indispensable, but everyone is unique

When we accept the fact that it is impossible to replace a person, the responsibility that man assumes during his existence is manifested. A man aware of the fact that a person is waiting for him or that he has left a pending job takes on his responsibilities and knows the why and the meaning of life.


Discover the meaning of your life

Man's interest is not to find pleasure or avoid pain, but to give meaning to life. Even when we are sick, we must make sense of our suffering.

No one can take your place and suffer for you, so the only opportunity you have is to choose the attitude to adopt in the face of suffering. Everyone is motivated by a vital reason, but sometimes they are not aware of it.

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