• Viktor Frankl experienced extreme hardship and suffering and, from this, developed his own theory about how many searches for and creates his own meaning. Frankl’s experiences taught him that suffering pushes human beings to find meaning and purpose in their lives. To survive, in other words, is to find meaning in one’s suffering.
• Frankl believed that struggle with suffering is an opportunity to seek and create something deeper and more meaningful, identify values and principles, and even deepen one’s spiritual understanding.
• Instead of searching for meaning externally, we have to look at our own unique strengths and calling in life, and hear what life demands from us, rather than making demands of it. This means that we need to take concrete action.
• Frankl thought that there were 3 ways to find meaning in life: We can work or create something of value, we can truly encounter another human being, or we can make meaning out of our suffering.
• One way to do this is to fine-tune your own unique purpose. Suffering can force us to look closely at what really matters to us most in life, but knowing our values also allows us to suffer better.
• Another remedy for suffering, according to Frankl, is to have compassion, and to be guided by love. Frankl sees love as mankind’s highest possibility, and when we choose kindness and empathy, we can take any form of suffering and redeem it.
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Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.
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