In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. — sage Viktor Frankl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl

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Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

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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.

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It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly.

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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 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.

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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.

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Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.

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The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,’ he will think. ‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’

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A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like sinners while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.

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It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.

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Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them.

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Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in its soul, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.

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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.”

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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.

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No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.

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For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.

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Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.

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Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.

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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 is his specific opportunity to implement it.

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33 Responses to In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. — sage Viktor Frankl

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