Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl: Summary and Lessons

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

Dan Silvestre


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Man’s Search for Meaning Summary

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl tells his story of surviving a concentration camp and how this experience led to his theory on the importance of meaning in one’s life (Logotherapy). You can find meaning in work (by doing something significant), in love (by caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. A fascinating read.

Executive Summary

Life is not a quest for pleasure, but for meaning.

The 3 possible sources for meaning:

  • Work, by doing something significant
  • Love, by caring for another person
  • Courage during difficult times

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.

Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. The salvation of man is through love and in love.

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.

When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

To find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. This meaning is unique and specific and can only be fulfilled by him alone.

What matters is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

“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!”



Dan Silvestre

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