Coming to Terms with These Three Facts

Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, observed three universal facts about human existence. They are not immediately uplifting, so please close this email if you were expecting light and fluffy inspiration. He said, “There is no human being who may say that he has not failed, that he does not suffer, and that he will not die.”

It is this “Tragic Triad” that defines every one of our lives, does it not? That might seem like reason for despair. Suffering, failure and death.

The Stoics say that it is not. These are simply objective truths—it’s our perceptions that look at them and say: “It’s unfair.” “It’s sad.” “I must try to escape it.”

Instead of judging this reality, we should say instead, “Ok, if that’s how it is, I will try to make the most of my lot.” If we do this, we will find—though certainly not easily—that it is from failure, struggle and death that meaning is produced. It’s death that gives life urgency. It’s failure that teaches us lessons. It’s suffering that shows us who we are.

Don’t run from these three facts. Don’t label them tragic. Face them.