Today’s video blog is going to be on change and the meaning of suffering. Today, I want to talk about Viktor Frankl who was a pretty remarkable and incredible man who taught us a lot about suffering. And he taught us a lot about what we actually do have control over in times where there is chaos around us. So, Viktor Frankl’s a pretty amazing person who, at 16 years old, wrote a manuscript called the meaning of life. And he, at 16 years old, was told by his high school teacher that he was so smart that he could go on to university. So, he went on to university to learn to become a doctor. And during this time, unfortunately, world war II broke out and his colleagues told him at the time, you know, you better go to America and get your family there as fast as possible. It’s not safe here. And he said he wanted to stay behind so he could take care of his family.
Unfortunately, he ended up going to one of the famous concentration camps. And the only thing that he took with him was his manuscript called the meaning of life. And when he lined up and the guards walked down the line, they asked him to drop his manuscript to the ground. I’m not sure what happened at that point, but he certainly wasn’t going to get to keep his manuscript. Now, most people in a situation like this would be mortified and quite frightened and angry but Viktor was remarkable in that he was able to see things from perspectives that were quite extraordinary. He told himself that this was his opportunity for a practicum, that now that he had written this manuscript called the meaning of life, he could finally put it to test in this concentration camp, which at the time he was not aware of how much suffering was to come, but he still had the ability to be able to take a very difficult time and kind of turn it upside down and be able to perceive it in a way that was quite useful for him and helped him move through a very terrible time.
As he moved through the camp, he became known as the camp doctor. People figured out very quickly how wise Viktor was. He researched those in the concentration camp and took notes about who it was that was able to survive the suffering and who it was that relented and chose to die. And what he learned was, is that the people that stayed alive, the people that were able to move through this suffering were the ones that had a purpose. Now, this purpose could be a loved one that they were longing to see again, a family member that they were longing to see again, a life purpose that they wanted to accomplish when they got out of the camp. And this purpose was what created an extraordinary will to live. And this is what Viktor learned when the war was over. He took all of this wisdom and published a book called Man’s Search For Meaning.
He also lectured all around the world and taught people what he had learned in the days of the camp. He was an extraordinary man who really changed the way that we see life. He helped thousands, millions of people understand how one could move through suffering. He helped people understand that there was meaning in everything, even in suffering. And the most important thing that I’ve taken away from Viktor Frankl is that while we don’t have a choice in what’s happening around us we do have a choice on how we respond to it. And I say this from a place of humility because a few days ago I was running around screaming my head off acting like a crazy person because I was letting anxiety kind of spill out all over the place when I realized the security around me was crumbling. now that I’m back, I want to help others by sharing some of the wisdom that I know has been helpful over the years for me and for people that I’ve worked with. we do have a choice on how we react and respond to the chaos that’s happening around us. and we do have a choice on how we’re going to move through this together as a community. we don’t, unfortunately, have a choice on what will happen.
So, that’s my video blog for today. Stay safe. Stay well, remember to social distance and remember to always wash your hands for 20 seconds.