Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
The experiences of camp life show that a man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away 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 way. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even in the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to life.
Topics: Nature, Opportunity, Attitude, Give, Decisions, Giving, Independence, Freedom, Spirit, Act, Fate, Life, Suffering, Circumstance, Mind, Action, Live, Spiritual, Perception, Stress, Experience, Choices, Purpose, Choice
In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.
Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’
When we are no longer able to change a situation … we are challenged to change ourselves.
Again and again I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: 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 than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.
Topics: Success, Knowledge, God, Happiness, Goals
Just as a small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it-likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicament and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.
My definition of success is total self acceptance. We can obtain all of the material possessions we desire quite easily, however, attempting to change our deepest thoughts and learning to love ourselves is a monumental challenge. We may achieve success in our business lives but it never quite means as much if we do not feel good inside. Once we feel good about ourselves inside we can genuinely lend ourselves to others.
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.
It is reserved for man alone to find his very existence questionable, to experience the whole dubiousness of being. More than such faculties as power of speech, conceptual thinking, or walking erect, this factor of doubting the significance of his own existence is what sets man apart from animal.
For SUCCESS, like HAPPINESS, cannot be pursued,
it is the unintended side effect of one’s personal
dedication to a course greater than oneself.
Man’s Search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning… Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!
What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
Topics: Vision, Act, Purpose
Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather 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.
Topics: Attitude, Responsibility, Life
It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.
I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.
For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
Topics: Doing Your Best, Life
Only to the extent that someone is living out this self transcendence of human existence, is he truly human or does he become his true self. He becomes so, not by concerning himself with his self’s actualization, but by forgetting himself and giving himself, overlooking himself and focusing outward.
Topics: Living, Life, Self Respect, Being True to Yourself
Our generation is realistic for we have come to know man as he really is.
After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or Shema Yisrael on his lips.
Topics: Man, Mankind
The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedom is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.
Fear may come true that which one is afraid of.
What is to give light must endure the burning.
Most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did a majority of the prisoners.
Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can be fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.
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.
The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how”.
Topics: Vision, Life, Purpose
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
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- Ludwig Wittgenstein Austrian-born British Philosopher
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- Edward de Bono British Psychologist, Writer
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. American Physician, Essayist
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