Dr. Viktor Frankl … and Me

Dr. Viktor Frankl … and Me

I never met Dr. Frankl, but I am deeply inspired by his philosophy and his classic work, “Man’s Search For Meaning” (1959). When I need inspiration and a better perspective on my own life’s challenges, remembering, and sometimes rereading that book usually does the trick for me. It has been known to snap me out of quite a few self-pity-parties!

Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997) was born in Vienna. He was a brilliant neurologist and psychologist who was an inmate in several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau, during World War II. His wife, mother and brother, also imprisoned for being Jewish, did not survive. His father had died earlier when they were all deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in 1942.

After three years in the camps, he was able to return to Austria, where he wrote the book that became “Man’s Search For Meaning” – the original title translated as “Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp.”

He taught the importance of finding meaning in life, even when experiencing extreme suffering and adversity, which of course, he most certainly did.

I often quote Dr. Frankl in my workshops and lectures. My favorites are these two from “Man’s Search For Meaning”:

“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.”

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When I face my own challenges, imagining a conversation with Dr. Frankl helps me gain a more rational, realistic and empowering perspective.

For example: I was having some work done on my car. While I was in the waiting area, a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years walked in.

“How are you Jerry,” she asked.

I was poised to answer that question by complaining about the expense of an unexpected car repair. But before I spoke, Dr. Frankl popped into my awareness and I thought, “what if Viktor Frankl appeared before me and asked the same question?” Would I be kvetching about a $250 bill, or telling him how grateful I am for the privileges and blessings I’m so fortunate to have? If I choose the latter, I’d probably feel a lot better! So, why would I choose the former? I wouldn’t. It’s just a habit. My “habit” would have “chosen” for me.

Conjuring up the mental image of a respected hero, especially someone who navigated horrific circumstances, might make it a little easier to wait in a long line at the ice cream shop … or cope with an unexpected bill … or respond to an event that is more inconvenience than tragedy.

Cognitive psychology calls this type of exaggeration “magnification.” I’ve also heard it called “awfulizing” and “catastrophising.”

So …”Don’t make mountains out of molehills!”
And maybe, your heroes can help with that!

Grati-Tuesdays With Jerry

Grati-Tuesdays With Jerry

Here is a collection of Grati-Tuesday missives I’ve written on my Facebook wall. Every Tuesday, I post a reminder to focus some attention on the good things we’re privileged to experience … the gifts, the blessings, the miracles, the random “good fortune” that sometimes comes our way. Useful any day of the week, not just Tuesday.

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get, that you don’t want.” — Oscar Wilde

Grati-Tuesday. Celebrate the wonderful, amazing things … celebrate the simple, functional things! Celebrate your unique life!

Having a pity-party? About to pout?
Make gratitude choices instead, no doubt.
Change your focus. Appreciate the good.
And feel that groovy gratitude!
Grati-Tuesday!

Grati-Tuesday! How many miracles do we simply take for granted? Love? WiFi? Hummingbirds? Life itself? Gratitude and Appreciation are the happiness twins.

Grati-Tuesday! Gratitude felt … appreciation expressed.

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! Great to count your blessings. Even better to write them down, four or five daily. This practice can yield significant positive results over time.

Grati-Tuesday! Even on challenging days, there’s much to appreciate, much to feel grateful for. Makes difficult times a little easier to navigate.

Grati-Tuesday! We owe our lives to many. Some that we knew, and untold millions we will never know. Include gratitude in your daily ritual. You won’t regret it!

Grati-Tuesday! “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” — John Milton

Grati-Tuesday! Sincere expressions of appreciation and gratitude can significantly brighten someone’s day – especially those whose service, kindness or love is all too often taken for granted.

Grati-Tuesday! “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” — Epicurus

Grati-Tuesday! Get your meetings off on a positive note – have everyone share one thing that makes them feel truly grateful.

Grati-Tuesday! “Gratitude is the gateway to greatness!” (Tavis Smiley)

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust. Nicely said, Marcel!

Having challenges? Try this: make a list of 20 good things about your life, things that you’re genuinely grateful for or happy about. This exercise won’t eliminate the tough stuff, but could give you a more empowering perspective.

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite — only a sense of existence.” — Henry David Thoreau

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! A little daily gratitude practice can result in significantly positive outcomes!

“Grati-Tuesday” greetings! Today, write and send a thank-you note to someone who deeply deserves your appreciation and gratitude.

“It’s a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.”
— Roberto Benigni

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! Gratitude and appreciation – foundations of an excellent day. Feel it, express it, share it. Be a grati-tutor!

Grati-Tuesday! Feelings of gratitude can help us keep some balance during challenging or stressful times. Take a “gratitude break” a few times daily – remember the good things that already exist – then, navigate onward!

Grati-Tuesday! 2 … 4 … 6 … 8 … Who and what do you appreciate? Just ponder this for a minute.

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” — Joni Mitchell. Electricity, running water, wifi, cell service — hoping we don’t lose ’em, grateful we have ’em!

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! Just take a minute, right now, and let yourself feel grateful for your friends and family; for your resources; for that which is fortunate in your life. Not a bad way to start the day!

Grati-Tuesday Greetings! Sincere expressions of gratitude and appreciation are great gifts! And, there’s a never ending supply of them!

Grati-Tuesday! “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

Grati-Tuesday! Grateful to be working … grateful to be earning … grateful to be helping … grateful to be serving!

Grati-Tuesday! Tell the people you’re grateful for, that you are, and why. Tell the people you love, that you do, and why. Don’t wait.

Grati-Tuesday! It’s great to read the “Gratitudes” on so many Facebook walls. They inspire positive feelings for the readers … and the writer!

I find it next to impossible to not feel gratitude.

Another Easy Daily Practice

An excellent daily practice: spend a few minutes thinking about these questions. Writing down your answers, over time, could be interesting … possibly life-changing!

I care about _______________.

I love _____________________.

I am grateful for _____________.

I am inspired by ____________.

Affirmations – Negative and Positive

THE STUFF WE TELL OURSELVES – 

CREATIVE, OBSERVATIONAL, OR WHAT?

 

Have you ever repeated “negative affirmations” like these (to yourself or out loud)?

I don’t deserve to succeed.

The world is against me.

Miracles don’t happen, I never get a break.

I am conflicted about most everything, I can’t make any decisions.

I am a disappointment.

I lead a life of self-deception and sheer stupidity.

I cannot be happy. Ever.

I have absolutely no love in my life. None.

I must play the part of a tragic figure.

I must act sad and moody most all of the time.

I am never really good enough.

My timing is pathetically awful.

Most anything makes me angry, then I feel guilty, then I feel ashamed, then I feel angrier.

Let’s stop right here. Do these words help to create negative conditions, or are they simply a sad commentary on what is?  These examples are meant to be somewhat irrational, absolutist, all-or-nothing assumptions, ’cause that’s how we sometimes (or all too often) think.

It’s true that words have power and that thoughts trigger feelings.  Obviously, some emotions can be motivating … and others make us want to get back to bed, pull the covers over our heads, and have a personal (possibly perpetual) pity-party (not pretty)!

Our thoughts … the words we tell ourselves … might or might not be true or helpful. Yet, often by habit, we have been known to focus our thinking on negative, false, (definitely not helpful) words —negative affirmations, so to speak.

Do negative affirmations work as well as positive ones? Or, perhaps a better question is: do affirmations “work” at all?

How did you feel when you read the set of negative affirmations? Read the next bunch slowly and carefully, savor the phrases, and notice the effect.

I can make my choices based on the outcomes I most desire.

I am loved and appreciated.

I value and appreciate my life.

I have tremendous potential.

I am allowed to pursue my best goals.

I can find out whatever I need to know.

I am fortunate, thankful, grateful.

I am perpetually inspired.

I’m open and receptive to miracles in my life.

I deserve to succeed. I am allowed to succeed.

I can make the choices that make me happy.

I can do what I love.

I have great timing (after all, I AM reading this!)

——————————————————–

For me, some kind of affirmation practice is useful in managing thoughts, and the results that follow. Importantly, they have to be worded in such a way that we can accept them as statements of truth.  I think an “affirmation” that is clearly bogus (inflated, unrealistic, irrational, inappropriate) is more like wishful thinking than a practical tool. Nonetheless, sometimes miracles DO happen, and working with positive affirmations could be a catalyst.

What do you think?

The Grati-Tools

Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude

(This is a repeat of earlier material … but you can’t have enough gratitude, I think!)

Intentional gratitude practices – “Grati-Tools”
* to experience more of the positive feelings, moods, emotions associated with gratitude.
* to encourage sincere expressions of gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness.
* to gain new perspectives that could create or catalyze improvements in multiple areas of life.
• to literally increase happiness and well-being; short and long term.

Grati-Tool #1: Gratitude For Those Who Touched My Life
List ten people (or animal companions) from your past or present, who have positively contributed to your life. Those you love, who’ve helped you in some way, mentors, teachers … those who deserve your thanks and appreciation. Once a week, read your list and add ten more names. Think about what you would write to them in a thank-you note. And, maybe … write that note!

Grati-Tool #2: The Gratitude Walk
Take a walk (short or long), and notice all the things that you could conceivably be grateful for.
Such as: life itself, pavement, electricity, trees, traffic lights, cars, sky, eyesight … the things that work.
Consider how your life, and everything in it, might be seen as gifts.

Grati-Tool #3: Liberally and Sincerely EXPRESS Appreciation To Those Who Surely Deserve It
• Say “thank you,” “I appreciate you and what you did,” “good job!” … etc.
• Tell the people you love that you love them.
• Send thank-you notes. • Pay a gratitude visit.

Grati-Tool #4: Observe “Grati-Tuesdays”
Just for fun, make Tuesday the day of the week when you particularly focus on gratitude practice(s).
Or … “Thank You Thursdays” — the day you especially express gratitude to others.

Grati-Tool #5: The Gratitude Journal (a.k.a. “Gratitude Diary” … “Gratitude List”)
Once a day, or even once a week, write down things, people, relationships, circumstances, feelings, abilities, talents, blessings, etc. that you feel grateful for. Three, four, five or more. Be specific.
Even better: also write why!

Grati-Tool #6: Happy Birthday – Grateful For Another Year!
Make a gratitude list on your birthday, with one item for each year of your life.

Grati-Tool #7: Take a Gratitude Break
Close your eyes … relax … and for one minute, focus your attention on a person, thing, circumstance, situation, accomplishment, talent, ability, etc. that you’re truly and deeply grateful for. If you can, imagine/visualize him … her … it. If your mind wanders, just bring it back. FEEL the gratitude and happiness as you focus your attention. Making a mental movie, or creating a mental collage – also fine! Do it once a day, or when you feel stressed or petty!

©2015 Jerry D. Posner  • http://www.jerryposner.com •  You can’t lose … with gratitude!

Ways to Make 2015, Your Best Year! — Lecture Notes

Ways to Make 2015, Your Best Year! – Lecture Notes

We start with who we are, where we are, what we have to work with … NOW!

Attitude, perspective, point-of-view might be just as important as the “things
that happen.”

What might be some elements of ‘your best year?’

What is important, meaningful to you now?

What would you like to change … improve … accomplish?

How would you like to feel?

What ignites your passion?

What triggers your happiness and joy?

Focus on the things that you CAN control or manage.                                                                                Choices, attitudes, actions, behaviors, etc.

Seek the appropriate balance between PLEASURE and PURPOSE.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to
choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Dr. Viktor Frankl

So … MIND THE GAP!

Emotions are contagious!

You can catch them, and others can catch them from you!
So, it pays to manage emotions, to know what you’re feeling and your emotional targets.

Make a “To-Feel List” — List of feelings or emotional states you want more often. Review regularly.
For example: happy, joyful, proud, enthusiastic, confident, grateful,
compassionate, smart, lucky, appreciative, creative, energetic, professional,
calm, hopeful, positive, serene, helpful, loved, valued.

Three other very helpful lists:
• To-Do List (of course!) – Today’s Mission
• Gratitude Journal
• Inspiration List

Choose a few key words/short phrases – THEMES – to influence attitude, mood, behavior, choices.
Some examples: Listen. Love more. Compassion. Kindness. Calm. Gratitude.
Grace. Faith. Flow. Patience. Acceptance. Balance. Forgiveness. Resilience. Rational.
Honesty. Mindfulness. Ambition. Courage. Laugh more. Eat healthy. Optimism. Serenity. Exercise. Meditate. Peace. Walk, don’t jump, to conclusions. Confidence.  Joy.  Service.

To achieve specific goals: Break them down into small, workable steps.

“What will I do TODAY?”
“PRACTICE MAKES HABITS” – to create a new habit, link it to an existing one.

These “R’s” could help!
Recognize (what you need to do, think, feel. Having a practical plan is smart)
Remember (write down the goal and your action plan. Read it daily)
Reinforce (with action … practice … repetition … reward yourself)
Review (observe results and feedback … modify your plan as needed or desired)
Repeat (the stuff that works best for you)

“Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

15 For 2015 — Daily Reminders for a Stellar Year

15 For 2015
Daily Reminders for a Stellar Year
By Jerry Posner

1.   Sometimes a single act of kindness changes everything.
2.   Appreciate and treasure each moment … especially this one.
3.   Need courage? Recall inspirational people and their deeds.
4.   Preparation reduces fear and shrinks worry.
5.   Angry? Count to twenty, slowly. Still angry? Do it again.
6.   Expect miracles.
(If that doesn’t work, notice the ones that already exist.)
7.   Gratitude: feel it, express it, promote it. Be a grati-tutor!
8.   More facts = better beliefs.
9.   Message from your Future-Self: love more, kvetch less.
10. If it’s too difficult to forgive and forget, just choose one.
11.  Put on your (rational) thinking cap … and leave it on.
12. Courtesy is fundamental, indifference is the enemy.
13. Choose your attitude; many fine options available now.
14. Positive expectations just might skew the odds in your favor.
15. What we do, and how we do it, always matters.

“Since there’s always a choice … choose wisely!”

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