I spent part of the holiday break thinking about how fortunate I am and we all are.
As I have blogged, the odds against us being born as us is 102,640,000 , which is basically impossible. Our being alive is a miracle.
I read Victor Frankl’s classic book, "Man’s Search for Meaning" over the break. It is a spectacularly powerful book, if you haven’t read it.
Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and became a Nazi prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The book is a visceral accounting of his experience. However, far from desolate, the book reminds us of our many privileges that we almost always take for granted.
The book also reminds us of the spirit of the human heart and soul.
A few famous quotes from this book:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
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.
I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.
Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
Faith in fate served him through his depersonalizing imprisonment and at one time, he turned to the philosopher Nietzsche when he remembered that “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."
Frankl remembered having an extra small piece of bread, or someone smile or empathize, sometimes made the difference in his ability to push on.
He and the other prisoners yearned for a good meal, a shower, clean clothes, time with family – everyday privileges we take for granted.
As is true for much of our lives, we take for granted so much that we should be eternally grateful for. We are so caught up in externally measured things, that we forget the important gifts are always inside.
To be happy, one only needs to appreciate the great abundance each of us is blessed with. Not money, title, job, belongings, or standing.
Frankl found that these could be stripped off at a moments notice.
It is the indelible gift of life, of choice, of love, of health, of friendship, of community, of purpose and of being human for our lives that are the gifts that matter.
Lets live by Frankl’s inspiration for a second:
Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.