Viktor Frankl was held prisoner in Auschwitz and four other Nazi concentration camps. Try to imagine enduring what he did: while behind the Nazi concertina wire, Frankl watched his parents, his brother, and his pregnant wife die at the hands of his oppressors. Frankl should have been consumed with sadness at his losses and hatred for his tormentors, correct?
Actually, Frankl came to feel pity for the Nazi soldiers who imprisoned him. As incredible as it sounds, Frankl wrote in his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, that he pitied his oppressors because they were more imprisoned than he. Frankl, you see, transcended his imprisonment and inhumane conditions and, when he was finally freed, his outlook on life had been transformed for the better.
The Most Inhumane Prison Doesn’t Have Walls
How could Frankl accomplish this? Because, while imprisoned, he realized that he was in full control of the meaning he assigned to the events of his life. He decided that even though he was locked behind barbed wire, he was actually a free man because he could decide what stories he told himself and he had the freedom to define values of his choosing to everything. While his prison guards, on the other hand, were imprisoned by a far more devious obstruction than barbed wire; the guards were imprisoned by their unconscious obedience to beliefs they hadn’t personally chosen for themselves.
Is there a rulebook that states you must call certain things “bad” and feel unhappy or miserable about them? There is not! Yet most people conduct themselves as if such a rulebook exists. And they choose misery and suffering because of that decision.
You Are the Greatest Architect in the World
Is it possible to find better, uplifting meaning in things you’ve always called “bad” and allowed to cause you to suffer? Is unwanted weight, the collapse of a relationship, debt, career displeasure, or a lack of desired material possessions more difficult to tell new stories about than watching your pregnant wife be killed by Nazi soldiers? Only if you decide they are!
Frankl’s transcendent experience shines a brilliant light upon the freedom we all have to create new beliefs and define our life on our own terms. Are you a victim of beliefs which cause you to suffer? Given that you have a choice, why would you choose to continue suffering? Why would you not claim your God-given ability to be the architect of your life, rather than succumb to conventional wisdom and surrender to the way things have always been for you?
If you truly desire freedom, as Frankl and countless others have found, start by reading Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat and continue reading this blog to learn more…