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.