In his remarkable little book, "Man's Search of Meaning," Frankl gives testimony to the existential belief that life is filled with suffering and that the only way to survive is to find meaning in it. "Once an individual's search for meaning is successful, it not only renders him happy but also gives him the capability to cope with suffering," he wrote.

Although we cannot always change the fact that terrible things will happen to us, we have every power to change how we will respond to those painful events in our lives.

In his book, Frankl announces that he, himself, is filled with a "tragic optimism," a philosophy that allows him to say "yes" to life in spite of pain, suffering, and death. He has little patience with the nihilistic idea that being has no meaning and considers the common belief in that as a "mass neurosis." It is this philosophy, Frankl says, that served him in the camps and allowed him to maintain his dignity, grace, and compassion in spite of the unspeakable atrocities to which he was subjected. He holds that it is precisely man's search for meaning that is a primary motivation of our existence and one that gives us a reason to live in spite of life's tragedies.

To Frankl, meaning can be found in the fact that human beings are self-determining. Although we cannot always change the fact that terrible things will happen to us, we have every power to change how we will respond to those painful events in our lives. We do not simply exist but have the intrinsic authority--this "last of human freedoms"--to decide what our existence will be, what we will become in the next moment.

"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," he wrote. "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 disease such as inoperable cancer--we are challenged to change ourselves." Frankl was fond of quoting Nietzsche, who said, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.