“It can have meaning if it changes you for the better.” —Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, was imprisoned and survived Nazi concentration camps. During this time he lost his wife, parents, home, and the manuscript that his entire life’s work had gone into. Yet, he emerged from this horrific experience, convinced that life was not meaningless and that suffering was not without purpose. The branch of psychology Viktor Frankl developed, now known as logotherapy, provided a new perspective for many. He enlightened us to the fact that we don’t control what happens to us, only how we respond. Nothing can deprive us of this ability to respond in any situation. Even if the response is made in the slightest way, or even if our response is only acceptance, we still always have the choice in how we respond. And, in reality, our response is all we can ever control. We cannot control events in our lives, and while we can work to influence outcomes, we ultimately cannot control the outcomes. In moments where things are not going as I would hope, I try to reflect on this idea. It reminds me that I can change for the better because of what I am going through and find meaning in it — even if my “suffering” pales compared to what others have gone through.
Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my favorite books. Viktor Frankl’s perspective on life and struggle has always stuck with me. No matter how difficult, how challenging, or how dark our circumstances seem, our focus on what we can control matters more than anything else. Too often, we get so hyper-focused on our circumstances that we lose focus on what we can control. Our response to any event is always in our control. This focus allows us to turn any circumstance, good or bad, into an opportunity. As another one of my favorite authors, Joshua Medcalf, often states: “Everything that happens to me today is in my best interest and an opportunity to learn and grow.”
Make it a great day, or not, the choice is yours!