“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing; the last of all human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances; to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Life happens, and sometimes it’s not very pretty. Life is filled with hurdles and it often doesn’t go the way we want it to go. We all face hardships from time to time. Viktor Frankl spent several years in a German concentration camp in World War II. He lost his entire family, but he himself survived the Holocaust. He was beaten, tortured and experimented on continuously. He was most definitely a victim of circumstances. After his release, he went on to become a renowned neurologist, psychiatrist and author. His book, Man’s Search For Meaning is a “must read”.
Circumstances are going to happen, either good or bad, and more often than not, those circumstances are out of our control. But as Frankl says in his quote, our attitude is the one thing that cannot be taken from us. No matter how bad the situation may seem at the time, our attitude will play a major factor in how the situation gets resolved, in how we view it, or in what effect the situation has on us. Life is going to hit you in the gut sometimes. You can be devastated when faced with adversity, or with the right attitude, you can overcome whatever it is that you are facing at the time.
While Frankl’s situation was extreme, and hopefully none of us will ever have to face such extremes, we will still most certainly encounter extreme circumstances at times. A cancer diagnosis, natural disasters, the loss of someone very close, these are all extreme circumstances that are a reality of life for many people and it can be very diffiicult to maintain the right attitude when such crisis occur. But we let our attitude have a very negative effect on daily occurrences as well.
It’s easy to jump to a negative conclusion when we don’t have all the facts. I like to use the example of getting angry because we got cut off in traffic. When that person cuts you off, instead of getting angry, would you feel differently if you discovered that person that just cut you off has a wife in labor in the backseat that he is desperately trying to get to the hospital? Jumping to conclusions is just one of the ways we let our negative attitudes rule our lives.
Often, when things go wrong, we have a tendency of making excuses when our attitude should be one of finding a solution. It’s almost as if when faced with a difficult circumstance, it will miraculously be lessened if can just put blame on someone. But placing blame does nothing to resolve the issue and that sort of victim mentality only strengthens your own suffering.
Another tendency of human nature is to put restrictions on ourselves. When faced with adversity or a difficult situation, it’s easy to focus on what we can’t do rather than focusing on what we CAN do. I experienced this myself after my neck surgery three years ago. I kept dwelling on the neurosurgeon telling me, “No more jogging, weightlifting, swimming, etc.” and it took me a while to realize that he never said, “No more living”. For a long time, I limited myself to what I could do because of the few things I no longer CAN do. We can’t always control circumstances, but we can control how we react to those circumstances.
When faced with a difficult situation, what do you do that keeps you in the right attitude?
- Everything Happens for a Reason . . . or Not . . . (ceceliafutch.wordpress.com)
Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .