Moving on with Grace

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Steve Jobs had to drop out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon when he didn’t have enough money to pay his tuition bills.  After guiding Apple from a garage start-up into a $2 billion company, he was fired.  That’s when he started animated film giant Pixar.  Apple brought him back and despite his battle with terminal pancreatic cancer, he rebuilt the slumping company.

J.K. Rowling found herself divorced and penniless.  She sat at a small café for hours at a time, scrawling her ideas for a children’s story on the eatery’s napkins.  Her Harry Potter books went on to sell over 400 million copies and generate the highest grossing movie series of all time, while making Rowling a billionaire.

Life is good when everything’s going well.  But what about when the bottom falls out, and everything you thought was a sure thing is suddenly taken from you.  How do you keep going, and follow your dream?  How can you even HAVE dreams? 

Holocaust survivor Viktor Emil Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, perhaps said it best:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

The meaning we give to something will determine the power and emotional charge it will have in our lives. When we passionately care about something, or someone, we can use that attachment to give our lives purpose.  If we feel our lives have no meaning, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to rally and get back on our feet when the rug is pulled out from under us.

In Frankl’s case, he didn’t just talk about the importance of the meaning we give to things.  His passion for his wife and his work undoubtedly kept him alive in the most gruesome of circumstances.

Frankl studied medicine at the University of Vienna and was initially influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.  He was particularly interested in depression and suicide, and while still in medical school created a free program to counsel at risk high school students.  After his graduation, Frankl went on to create a special center in Vienna to treat tens of thousands of suicide-prone people.

In 1942, Frankl, a Jew, his wife, brother and parents were forced to move to a Nazi ghetto.  He continued to practice psychiatry, and organized a mental health care program to help new prisoners handle their shock and grief.

Frankl and his wife were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp, and he was then sent to another location affiliated with Dachau concentration camp.  He was forced to do slave labor, but held on to his vision of reuniting with his wife while he continued to help fellow prisoners until the Americans liberated them on April 27, 1945.

He was to learn his wife, parents and brother all perished in the camps.

After three horrendous years in the camps and losing the people closest to him, Frankl realized that even in the midst of the most dehumanizing and heartbreaking situations, life has meaning, and even suffering is meaningful. 

That very year he wrote the best-selling book that was to significantly impact the world of therapy, Man’s Search for Meaning .  In it, he detailed his personal experiences, and how his constant search for the significance in every horrific occurrence gave him a reason to go on. This paradigm-shifting work became the foundation for logotherapy, a form of existential analysis Frankl created to help people rediscover their reason for living.

In addition to ferreting out the deeper meaning in things, another tool for getting back on your feet can be found in the relatively new field of Positive Psychology.  By practicing daily gratitude, and reviewing the three most positive events of the day every night for a week, studies have shown people have become measurably happier for up to six months.  Just repeating the gratitude review for another week will provide another half-year of a brighter outlook.

Detoxifying the body, quieting the mind and celebrating the spirit will also help people find new meaning and joy in their lives.  Experience all three at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

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