one should not search for an abstract meaning of life. everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment.

therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it. as each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognise 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; to life he can only respond by being responsible. thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.

logotherapy tries to make the patient fully awaare of his own responsibleness; therefore, it must leave to him the option for what, to what, or to whom he understands himself to be responsible.

i have termed this constitutive characteristic "the self-transcendence of human existence." it denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself - be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. the more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is and the more he actualises himself. what is called self-actualisation is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. in other words, self-actualisation is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.

we must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. 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. when we are no longer able to change a situation - just think of an incurable diseaase such as an inoperable cancer - we are challenged to change ourselves.

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

...the opportunities to act properly, the potentialities to fulfill a meaning, are affected by the irreversibility of our lives. but also the potentialities alone are so affected. for as soon as we have used an opportunity and have actualised a potential meaning, we have done so once and for all. we have rescued it into the past wherein it has been safely delivered and deposited. in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. to be sure, people tend to see only the stubble fields of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they have brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity.