When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Viktor Frankl.
20 years ago, I was introduced to logotherapy and Viktor Frankl through the book, Man’s Search for Meaning. This book was given to me by my doctor, to assist me through a particularly rough time in my life. It helped me to come to terms with some stuff that I was living with, why I was living with it, and it allowed me to find a way out, and start saying yes to life. Today, I got to visit his museum. His book changed my life – and today, I got a big reminder of why exactly it did.
20 years ago, I thought I was losing my mind in a big way. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t remember my own name. When I improved enough, I slowly read (that was the only book I read that year, and it took me the entire year) Dr. Frankl’s book. I learned how he survived the holocaust, and lived a life full of meaning, and without hate. I am still learning how to live without hate – but I do live a life full of meaning. It took me until today, to realize that I actually do have a very meaningful life.
According to Viktor Frankl, a meaningful life happens when you are a creating, experiencing, suffering person. Suffering doesn’t necessarily happen, when the first 2 are absent. The museum shows you how to understand and apply logotherapy in a fairly easy fashion. I won’t explain it here- but its worth reading about. I have found that its a great way to explore empathy.
Today was a profoundly positive experience – one that contained some emotional moments (that I don’t quite want to get into tonight, better to just process them for awhile). But there are 2 things that I want to mention. The first being that when referencing anxiety, Frankl suggest that you take your anxiety out for a walk – like you are walking the dog. This conjures up great imagery for me – and will be doing exactly that, from now on.
The next are the 10 Theses on the Human Person – these are as follows:
- Every person is an individual.
- Every person is un-summable, cannot be constructed by adding individual characteristics (the person is more than the sum of separate individual parts).
- Every person is a new creation.
- Every person is a spiritual being.
- Every person is real (exists in reality, is existential).
- Every person is self directed
- Every person is a united whole (of body, mind, and spirit).
- Every person is not a closed system, is dynamic and open to others.
- Every person can self-transcend the situation.
- Human beings understand themselves to the extent that they transcend (reach beyond themselves).
Sometimes we forget these things, especially if others are not like us. I really enjoy #3 – Every person is a new creation. Saying it this way, gives us permission to make mistakes, to learn – to experience something differently. It gives us an opportunity to not judge. To view in kindness.
All we can do is our best – The Viktor Frankl Museum reminded me that I often do my best – but I can still do better. But more than that, this museum helped me to realize how strong I am, and that I do have a meaningful life.