One of my favorite reads is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’s a book I turn to and re-visit on occasions, and I learn something new every time. I find that it’s especially helpful in times of struggle, difficulty and uncertainty, which makes it perfect for the world today. Here are some of Frankl’s words that can help us all find the confidence to move forward:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” This quote by Frankl is extremely helpful in situations where we want to change everyone and everything around us. It stops us in our tracks and tells us that we may not be able to change the situation or other people, but we can always change ourselves and learn to grow within our challenges.
“Everything can be taken from a person 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.” These words say so much. Everything can be taken from us, including all our freedoms, and in times of uncertainty it’s easy to feel that we have no options. But we always have a choice. As Frankl says so profoundly, you can choose your attitude to make your way. In turn, your attitude will strengthen you to forge forward from an uncomfortable and uncertain place.
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” Here Frankl provides an especially valuable insight: if a crisis or challenge is leading you to react in ways you normally wouldn’t, maybe your abnormal reaction is normal. When you face a new norm, uncertainty can make you do things you never would have considered before. However you respond to a situation, remember to show yourself compassion and kindness.
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” These words are a useful mantra in times of crisis. When the tension and uncertainty of life feel unbearable, look for meaning, for purpose, and pursue it. When you do, you will find the confidence to move forward.
Lead from within: Viktor Frankl has been a mentor in my life. I hope you will allow his words to move you and give you the confidence you need to face uncertainty with purpose and meaning. Frankl, who was an Austrian Holocaust survivor, neurologist, and psychiatrist who died in 1997, is the founder of logotherapy—which translates literally into healing through meaning and provides a helpful framework for finding and pursuing meaningful goals in our lives. Frankl saw that the search for meaning can be a primary motivation. He believed that adopting a courageous attitude in situations of unavoidable suffering and uncertainty can give us the confidence to find meaning, and that when we find that meaning we are able to bear any challenge.
Peace and Love, Jim