The quote that I open with today is basically the backbone for the book. I was reminded that I am not always diligent about choosing my own attitude, and I allow myself to become a victim of my circumstances. (During World War II, Frankl spent three years in Auschwitz, Dachau, and other concentration camps. Those are some pretty potent circumstances, and it shames me when I consider that my life is nowhere near that challenging.)
Frankl says, "It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness." His premise is that people who are determined to live happy lives have a "taker" mentality, whereas people who live meaningful lives have a "giver" mentality that often may actually lead to happiness! The greatest irony here is that living a meaningful life often means that it is accompanied by stress and negativity. Think about it...
And consider these bits of wisdom by Frankl:
- Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
- When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves.
- Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time. (I love this!)
And finally this: (These words speak so powerfully to me!)
This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."
Frankl's signature contribution to the field of clinical psychology was logotherapy, which is meant to help people overcome depression and achieve well-being by finding their unique meaning in life.
Today's blog is not exactly about art or writing or even creativity. But then again, how could you even begin to pursue any of these things if you didn't truly believe that you had something unique to say, if you didn't believe that you were unique?