Tag Archives: viktor frankl

How My Newborn Son’s Near-Death Taught Me that We Can Always Choose Gratitude

baby boy   Seventeen years ago this morning, my (then) wife gave birth to our first son.  He was six weeks premature.

I caught a glimpse of him as the nurse whisked him to the delivery room table where the team gets babies breathing.  My wife and I waited, anxious to hold him.

But we heard no cries from our baby.

More nurses began to gather around the table and assist the doctor.  The team’s activity became more frantic; we could hear the concern in their voices.  Minutes passed, seeming like hours, but still we heard no sounds from our baby.

“What’s wrong?”, we began to imploringly ask.  Tears of fear streaming down our faces.

The delivery team was too occupied with working on our son to answer our questions.  Within moments our baby was rushed out of the delivery room and a nurse explained to us that they were unable to get him breathing and were rushing him to the children’s hospital downtown.

We never got to hold him on his birthday.  Let alone see him.

Wipe Your Eyes (I Just Did) and Keep Reading

My son is seventeen years old today.

He spent over a month in that infant intensive care unit.  I aged a year in that month.  And I’m happy to say (given the alternative) that my son has given me plenty more opportunities to prematurely age since March 27th, 1996. 😉

I’m really proud of the thoughtful, open-minded, curious, intelligent, and mature young man my first-born son has grown into.  I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to be his father and mentor him.  He’ll always hold a special place in my heart because he is my first child; he made me a father.

It’s been wonderful to have the perspective of what “might have been”, had things turned out differently during my son’s first month of life.  Especially when he does something that gives me a few more gray hairs.  Yet I’m also grateful that I don’t need something so obvious, to feel grateful for, to find gratitude.

(Finding gratitude for being grateful is a very powerful Mobius band, by the way.  I highly recommend it!) (Click that link to Tweet it)

Did You Know You Have a Super-Power?

Yet my gratitude for my son on his birthday reminds me just how powerful gratitude is.  In a universe where our beliefs create our expectations and our expectations create our material reality, building beliefs powered by gratitude forms extraordinary life experiences. (Click that link to Tweet it)

In fact, as I’ve written in an earlier post, gratitude is so effective it’s like a secret super-power.

Is there any life experience where you can’t uncover some inherent gratitude?  I haven’t found one yet. (Click that Link to Tweet it)

Oh, I’ll be the first to admit that I have plenty of life experiences that are undesirable or unwanted.  Things that would be different were I, literally, writing a script.  But even the worst hold kernels of gratitude; in fact, sometimes the worst of them hold the most powerful seeds of gratitude. (Click that link to Tweet it)

Even if only in retrospect.

A Commitment and Willingness to Try is All it Takes

If I’m committed to finding gratitude in all my life’s circumstances, I’ve found that I can eventually find gratitude in even the really undesirable ones.  Because of my previous experiences with finding it there.

As in, I can tell myself this story:

“Although this event is very frightening, feels bad, and is extremely unwanted, I can believe that I’ll be okay, things happen like they’re supposed to, and, in the long run, I will most likely find hidden blessings in these events.  Even if that takes a while, for now I can choose to feel my feelings, resolve to face my fears, and trust that things will be okay.”

Allow Me to Be Presumptuous for a Moment

Am I presumptuous to tell you that you can always choose to tell yourself a story like that one?  What if you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, learning about a frightening diagnosis, or losing your marriage?

No, I am not being presumptuous; I have faced those events myself and told that story.  Things have not always turned out exactly as I wanted, but that story has always proven prophetic  – I have always been okay in the long run and, also in the long run, I have always found hidden blessings in those undesirable events.

Because, over time and with enough telling, that story has become one of my beliefs.

Given the Choice, Why Wouldn’t You Choose Gratitude Over the Alternative?

The stories you tell are, and will always be, your choice.  Even when the events are horribly unwanted.  Google the names of “Viktor Frankl” and “Louie Zamperini” if you want to learn more about people who used this technique under the most wretched situations imaginable and survived (even thrived) – especially as time passed.

Today, as I feel grateful for the gift of seventeen years spent with my son, I hope you, too, find many things to be grateful for.  And I also hope you join me in my commitment to telling stories about all life’s circumstances that allow you to feel gratitude.

You’ll love the material reality those beliefs you build will create.

And Happy Birthday, son!

And stay tuned to this blog for more techniques to use new paradigms from quantum physics to align your life with your desires…

How to Escape the World’s Most Inhumane Prison

  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…