LifeThought: When we cannot change a situation, we must change ourselves

When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

If you have not yet read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, you need to add this to your “Must Read” list. Reading books like this should be part of your plan for person growth.

Dr. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, was a Holocaust survivor who spent five years imprisoned at Auschwitz and Dachau. He knew what it was like to be in a situation that he could not change. Despite the conditions that caused many to despair and give up all hope, Dr. Frankl not only survived, he improved himself and his outlook on life while in that concentration camp. He knew that, despite the physical conditions, he alone was responsible for his mindset.

You may be in a situation from which you cannot physically remove yourself. Nevertheless, you are 100% responsible for how you think and how you respond to situations.

It’s easy to be the victim. It’s easy to point fingers and make excuses for things you don’t like about yourself or your life. It’s easier to remain miserable than it is to take responsibility for your life and take the actions necessary to change it.

Dr. Frankl found strength in the knowledge that, despite our circumstances, each of us is alive and on this earth for a purpose. Every life has meaning and significance and every human has a contribution to make to humanity.

We are more than the sum of biology and environment. We are part of something that is much bigger than we are, yet we are significant in it. In fact, we have a responsibility to make our life significant for the benefit of others.

Dr. Frankl noticed, in the death camps, that those chose to make the best of the circumstances, those who helped and encouraged others, those who gave their last piece of bread to someone else, were the ones who usually survived the longest and who proved that everything can be taken from a person except one thing: his ability to chose his attitude in any situation.

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Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve written? I’d love to hear your comments!

6 Responses to LifeThought: When we cannot change a situation, we must change ourselves

  1. Candice McGarvey January 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM #

    I love Dr. Frankl’s work, those ideas have brought me through some brutal times. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Bruce January 5, 2014 at 3:24 PM #

      Thanks, Candice. His book really does help to put our suffering in perspective and give us a new way of looking a life. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Jeff Kaiserman January 9, 2014 at 2:36 PM #

    I haven’t read his stuff, Bruce, but will take a look. Choosing the harder option over being miserable is often the scarier option too, since it often involves making significant changes in your life, relationships, goals, or aspirations. I recently wrote about this as well.

    • Bruce January 9, 2014 at 8:16 PM #

      Jeff, thank you for the comment. When you get a chance, I you really should read Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a great book with amazing insight.

  3. CherylAnn January 19, 2014 at 2:20 AM #

    I love Victor Frankl! Great assessment of his message. You are doing good work!

  4. Kari August 22, 2017 at 2:57 PM #

    I am interested in checking out his work. I am having a hard time letting go of something that happened to me in the past that I cannot change now. I am looking for all the help I can get because the struggle is real. I have developed depression and anxiety out of nowhere and dropped 10 pounds in about 3 weeks, simply out of worry, exhaustion, emotional upheaval, and regret. I am trying counseling, prayer, recommitment to my religion, and now, anti-depressants. I am a bit fearful of getting dependent on those things. Any suggestions?

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