01 May The Power of Meaning
Imagine yourself, persecuted by the Nazis and brutally tortured in a concentration camp. You are left to die. Those around you are drained, both physically and mentally. What hope is left? Well, the only hope we always have. As Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I hope that nothing so tragic ever happens again. But what is astounding is that Viktor Frankl was able to find meaning in the terrible suffering he went through. How was he able to do this? I believe that the fundamental reason why is encapsulated in this quote: “Life doesn’t just happen to us. We happen to life; and we make it meaningful.”
We go through life with so many expectations: expectations for our future, for our friends, for the ideal dinner, summer, vacation, etc. When life doesn’t life up to these expectations, we find ourselves angry and disappointed. We wanted better. But what if real life did not happen to us, but for us? What if we choose to interpret everything as having a purpose? How will we be transformed?
This fundamental change is mindset is the key to adaptability. When events happens to you, they has an extraordinarily greater chance of upsetting your plans rather than fulfilling them. That is simple mathematics. When events happen for you, you are forever being set on a new path, a path that was meant for you.
This change does not require believing in God. You could simply be a quantum physicist. One of the many interpretations of quantum physics, called the “many world interpretation,” says that in every moment a new universe is created. Of course this is an explanation for some of the smallest existing particles in our reality, but it may be just that: our reality. Imagine that in every moment, a new set of universes is being opened for you. The particles of the universe (or God) have opened the door for you. You step forward, but the door locks behind you. Do you keep moving onwards or do you pound on the door behind you? Keep moving. The door opened for a reason, whether as a test of your skills or as an opportunity to re-invent yourself.
Ultimately, it all boils down to a choice, a choice of interpretation. Interpret life as a nuisance and your life will be the same. Interpret life as happening for you, and all becomes clear. Search inside of yourself to find the meaning in what happens to you. There is a reason. You just have to discover it.