“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl
Have you ever read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning? It is an amazing book recounting Frankl’s time in four Nazi death camps during WWII and his subsequent lessons for survival. He argues that we can’t avoid suffering, but we can choose how we cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward. I’m not equating time in a Nazi death camp to a our current global pandemic, but if there was ever a time to read and absorb Frankl’s masterpiece, now would be the time.
Despite the horrifying environment, Frankl noticed that the prisoners who were more likely to survive the concentration camps had specific psychological methods of resistance: rich inner lives, future-oriented goals, and discovery of meaning in their suffering. Those three methods seem incredibly applicable to where we are now.
Turning toward our “rich inner lives” is about our intellect but, in our case, we have books, etc. readily available for us to read. Future-oriented goals is critically important. Have you thought about the future and set any goals during this unprecedented time? Finally, have you thought about the meaning of our “suffering”? Frankl states, “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task…His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.” Frankl’s insights remain brilliant and, now, incredibly relevant.