30 Minute Meditations on Being Human from the Life and Writings of Viktor Frankl, Day 22: The “Tragic Triad”

Viktor Frankl

Lesson for the Day: There are tragic dimensions to life. Rather than living in denial, a realistic person admits that they exist; includes them, when inevitable, in his or her experience; deals with them responsibly; and then moves on with his of her life.

According to Viktor Frankl, there is a “tragic triad” to human existence, consisting of suffering, guilt and death. As he says, “There is no human being who may say that he has not failed, that he does not suffer, and that he will not die.”1 Frankl explains why:

“[W]e may turn suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; derive from guilt the opportunity to change for the better; and see in life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.”2


  1. Viktor E. Frankl, The Will of Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy (New York, N.Y.: New American Library, 1969, 1st printing 1970), p. 73.
  2. ———-, Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning (New York, N.Y.: Insight Books/ Plenum Press, 1997), p. 142. Italics are mine.