On Future Goals
As we said before, any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal. Nietszche’s words, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.
The prisoner who had lost faith in the future — his future– was doomed. With his loss of belief in his future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.
On Inner Challenges
Varying this, we could say that most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of those experiences turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge, and simply vegetate, as did a majority of prisoners.
…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
On Hyper-Attention to Success
Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.