“Everything can be taken from 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.” – Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
Bad things are going to happen; there is no escape route from the inevitable. However, the good news is threefold. First, one can find comfort in knowing that individuals before them have survived the same trials and emotions they face now. Thus, the individual undergoing challenges today has access to a historical record of man by which to clench and absorb its power. Second, besides finding comfort in the past the individual can ease their distress by knowing that others in the present time are experiencing the same obstacles, questions, and emotions. Individuals are not alone; they have commonalities with others. There exists themes both externally and internally, in which most individuals will encounter in their lifetimes such as financial decisions, relationship-building, and achievement attainment for the former as well as defining oneself, managing emotions, and self-awakening for the latter. People travel their chosen paths at their chosen pace, meaning they encounter experiences’ checkpoints, if you will, at differing times and in differing order. Thus, individuals reach their form of self-transcendence at different points in time in comparison to other individuals as well as never reaching conclusions and arriving at differing truths. Finally, every possible suffering one encounters is an opportunity waiting to be seized for its true form: a chance to reveal the strength of the human spirit, a lesson to gain invaluable wisdom, and innovative problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, man is endowed with freewill, which includes the power to choose one’s attitude whilst in the center of utter turmoil. Briefly, Dr. Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist who survived a Nazi concentration camp. He recalled in his book how he underwent severe abuse; yet, his attitude or his internal self helped him survive the happenings in his external. Have you ever made an earnest and conscientious effort to practice having and living a good attitude? An extraordinary array of elements exists that are out of one’s control: other people, the global economy, history, and biology to list a few. Yet, human beings are fortunate to have minds, by which they have the ability to control arguably the most powerful key to unlocking and sustaining happiness; they are in control of their attitude. People are in control of their reactions to any given situation; be proactive, instead of reactive. With a positive mind thoughts are clearer, and stress is either reduced or eliminated. A person experiences a positive feedback loop by feeling good about taking action and controlling their destiny, which enables the individual to find a solution. Moreover, having the right attitude includes practicing gratitude for what remains good despite the temporary struggle; gratitude will prove itself to diffuse negative tension. At the end of any day, there is always something to be grateful for, even for tragedy itself. There is a distinct beauty in tragedy that ensues after realizing one’s own humanity and its level of depth.
All this to say, do not relinquish your power to anything or anyone and permit them to take your joy. You are your own master; feel the power and the difference of consciously choosing your attitude.
Mental exercise: List 1-3 things you are grateful for each night before going to bed.
Bonus: Start a gratitude journal, where you record your lists.
~ Things that I am grateful for include my freedom, knowledge, my health and well-being, my passions, my past and present challenges, friends and family, the Gates Millennium Scholarship, nature, and humor to name a few~