A woman wins the lottery. She is ecstatic, and overwhelmed with the limitless possibilities unfolding before her.
A man survives a car accident but looses the use of a leg. He is despondent, and overwhelmed with the new limitations confronting him.
Within three months, both people have returned to their initial level of happiness. This predisposition is what scientists have labeled “impact bias.” It means we “synthesize” happiness – and make the best of what we have, by finding a way to be happy with what’s happened. We emotionally adjust to the new situation. What this means is we’re pretty much hard-wired to redefine what’s ‘normal’ in our lives.
Changes in a marriage, relationship, job, material possessions, health – all of us will experience loss in some degree during our lifetime. Change is inevitable as time marches on.
It’s up to us to decide the meaning we’re going to give to these changes and how we get back to the business of living a normal life – and this applies across the board to seemingly positive or negative situations.
For the people who are convinced the world is a terrible place, they’re victims, and they have to live in fear, that’s going to be the normal reality they experience.
On the other hand, the people who care passionately about something and feel a fulfilling sense of purpose will always be able to navigate challenges and keep focusing on the things that give their life meaning. They’ll be able to create a new “normal” no matter what comes their way.
It was a Jewish Austrian psychiatrist who provided deeply personal proof of impact bias in his best-selling and transformational book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Dr. Viktor Frankl endured three years in Nazi concentration camps as a POW. His wife and entire family, except for a sister, died in the camps. Even in the most squalid, inhumane conditions, Dr. Frankl felt his life had meaning, and that people had a responsibility for themselves and their behavior.
He calculated that he only had a 1 in 29 possibility of surviving. But, he reasoned, that possibility, though slim, existed. Despite the squalor, pain and seemingly inescapable horror of the camps, Dr. Frankl felt he was destined to continue his studies into human nature, and share this information with the world.
He created a mathematical equation to represent the struggle, D = S – M. Despair is suffering without meaning . If person can’t find meaning in suffering, that person will be more prone to despair and suicide. But if they can see a meaning in their suffering, if they can reframe their current predicament into a future accomplishment, they will have the power to turn tragedy into personal triumph.
They could only rise above their challenge if they felt a deep sense of purpose. That purpose had to be driven by that most powerful of human emotions, love, to truly be meaningful. Passionately hanging on to both “love” and “meaning” will, without fail, deliver a person through the most jarring and/or overwhelming situations, help them adapt to changes, and bring them back into a “normal” life.
Learn positive new ways to adapt and redefine “normal” for yourself at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for the New Year, and the rest of your life. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.