“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” ― Viktor E. Frankl
I had been introduced to Viktor E. Frankl’s famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by a good friend about ten years ago and fell in love with some of Frankl’s concepts. A dream came true when I visited the Viktor Frankl Museum in Vienna and actually met his wife who is 94
Who was Viktor Frankl?
Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, born in March 1905, founder of the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy”, resided at Mariannengasse 1 until his death in 1997. It was there that he completed his thesis on the human person as a spiritual being, capable of defeating the worst conditions as soon and as long as he finds meaning in life. Today Frankl’s workplace is an inspirational museum, in which I was gradually introduced to the art of psychotherapy. In the course of learning about the development of a genius, I also gained insight into my own opportunities and personal potential.
Viktor Frankl has been awarded 29 honorary doctorate degrees and numerous prizes internationally. With his incomparable blend of scientific precision and faith in a specific human dimension which guarantees human dignity, Frankl’s work is able to reach consensus throughout people’s barriers. His doctrine is applied and further developed in all parts of the world. Frankl developed a theory called Logotherapy. The theory is founded on the belief that human nature is motivated by the search for a life purpose and is the purpose of that meaning for one’s life. Frankl’s theories were heavily
My highlights from the visit:
A journalist asked Frankl if he is afraid of death. Frankl: “Not really. I would be scared only of a life not lived. But, if I can say that, for the most part, I have done what I could then there is nothing better than this awareness.”
As a 5 year-olds after since in the family died, Frankl raises the question: “Since I must die, why do I live?” In countless discussions with his friend, the philosopher Martin Heidegger, he addresses the question of whether transitoriness destroys the meaning of life. As a “thorough and persistent thinker to the end” Frankl cites: “Death is the engine of life.” The meaningfulness in human life lies in its finiteness. Frankl’s concept of meaning points beyond immanence towards transcendence. As a young doctor, Frankl finds in studies that not so much the facts of what one has become are decisive for success or failure but rather the personal attitude we take towards predicaments.
Frankl: “You always decide: Heaven or Hell. You shape heaven or hell for yourself and your environment. It is up to you. Human behaviour is not dictated by conditions one encounters, but by decisions one makes.”
“Fundamental trust is ultimately a faith in meaning, to which we can decide. Among other things, it also means the awareness of our uniqueness and irreplaceability as well as our value for the world” – Frankl.
Frankl asked questions such as: “Can we do anything we are capable of?”; “What is the meaning of life?”; “What is the ultimate meaning of life?” “What is stronger: My fear or myself?”
Guilty of something? Now what? According to Frankl, you can make it okay again if you 1) Regret sincerely and honestly, your wrong-doing, and you make amends to this person/object on whom/which you betrayed. 2) You regret: sincerely and honestly, your deed and you cannot make amends regarding the same person/object; you make amends regarding another person/object and 3) Even in your final hour there is a possibility to make amends/apologize: Through sincere repentance, you change yourself and become a different person. All this is possible because you are a person with irrevocable dignity.
In any other life situation, it is still possible to make meaningful and best use of resources and to co-create a better situation. Just use time: Money and success cannot be the only measure of a meaningful life, otherwise, there would not be “successful people living in despair” and “unsuccessful people living in fulfillment”. Live in the here and now. This way, death doesn’t make life meaningless.
From Why to What for:
Lastly, and not to give too much of the exhibition away, the want to bring up Frankl’s question: “Why me?” According to Frankl, this is the wrong question. Each tough situation is an appeal to ask and think: “I am going through all this suffering but is this a challenge to open my eyes to something else? As long as you breathe, a person or task is waiting for you.”
More Information & Things you should know before you visit:
The Viktor Frankl Museum, an infinitive of the Viktor Frankl Zentrum Vienna, is a place for education, where professionals, curious amateurs and even entire school classes get aquatinted with Frankl’s original body of thought. Courses, seminars, workshops, lectures, literature, and documentaries convey his image of humans and his unique methods of healing, which help us to face the problems of today’s crises-ridden world in a constructive and groundbreaking way. At the museum are experts available to respond to any questions and share relevant information. The exhibition is in German and English.
Mariannengasse 1, Top 15; 1090 Vienna; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +43(0)69910961068; website: www.franklzentrum.org.
Opening hours: Monday/Friday/Saturday (1 pm- 6pm); admission fee: Euro 8 (reduced fee for students/seniors: Euro 6)
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“The Greatness of life can be measured by the greatness of one single moment” – Frankl.
Pause and open up to the magical moments of life, which are simply right there. You experience them in nature, in different cultures and in the encounter with other people. This conscious attitude towards life will enrich you and fulfill you with great gratitude. Be amazed about this world.