Last week I finished reading ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ a book by Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. Published in 1946, it details Frankl’s experiences as an ‘average prisoner’ in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.
Frankl’s education provided him with a platform with which to analyse his experience and identify psychotherapeutic methods he used while imprisoned. According to Frankl, a prisoner’s survival was linked closely to how they imagined the future.
In essence, Frankl believed that identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome, helped prisoners to endure immense suffering.
The book left me in awe of those who survived the holocaust. The mental fortitude that carried them through the hardships and torture is inspiring.
Choose One’s Own Way
What struck me was the idea that everything can be taken from a human being — the material things, the physical body — yet the one thing that can’t be taken away is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, “to choose one’s own way”.
‘… the sort of person the concentration camp prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.’
When you fully accept that how you act and react in any circumstance is entirely under your control, your outlook changes.
No longer do you lament external influences and factors outside of your control, these simply become challenges to be solved (or ignored). You begin to take greater responsibility for your actions and reactions.
While Frankl’s experience is extreme in its brutality, it only serves to highlight the lengths a human can be pushed while still maintaining an inner freedom.
As the saying goes, ‘Attitude is everything’.
It is why one of our values at Teach Starter is ‘Choose Positivity.’ We selected the first word for a reason — your mindset is entirely your choice.
It is imposed by no one other than you.
Positivity is a choice.
Don’t wait for external forces to influence your attitude; start now, from within.