- We, as human beings, can survive extreme atrocities by clinging on to a sense of meaning, never giving up on hope. (Frankl shares that after the prisoners were released, many of the survivors had feelings of disbelief, followed by bitterness. Additionally, the survivors were not met with the compassion they’d expected, as people could not comprehend the horrific experience.)
- Focusing on our ‘inner’ life (such as thinking about loved ones, noticing beauty, or finding humor) can bring a sense of fulfillment even during the worst of atrocities. (Frankl noticed that the prisoners who were most likely to survive had a rich inner life and that they could find meaning in their suffering.)
- Freedom to make choices is something most of us take for granted. When we make choices—even the smallest ones—it gives us a sense of empowerment. (Having the tiny bit of autonomy gave prisoners the ability to live with their own values, for example, giving up their bread so that someone else could eat.)
- We always have the freedom to choose how we approach something. How we act and the responsibility we feel towards our choices determine our meaning in life. There is no all-encompassing meaning of life.
- Our motivation stems from our life’s meaning. Frankl’s theory of psychotherapy known as logotherapy asserts that the search for meaning is the greatest motivation in our lives. (Frankl recognized that prisoners who could maintain meaning were stronger and more resilient than those who could not. Those who feel life has no meaning are left with an emptiness or existential vacuum.)
- We are called to figure out our life’s purpose depending on what emerges in our life and our own choices. Each person may find personal meaning in different places, times, and circumstances. It could be their positive contribution at work, as a volunteer, or in any situation where they influence others.
- We are in control of our fears. We are able to make decisions regardless of our environment.
- When we fear something will happen, it often does. Yet, when we try and force something to happen, it rarely does. Therefore, do the thing you’re afraid of (for example, getting tongue-tied when making a speech) to be released from it.
The above is inspired from the bestselling book "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.