For the last 30 years I have been on my own Hero’s Journey ever since I discovered Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth, The Hero’s Journey…), Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning), and all my other mentors from the world of psychology which are too many to name right now. I teach people how to have an authentic life as they are on their own Hero’s Journey because I live my life this way and know the key to a positive fulfilling experience (here are some past blog posts: Becoming Your Own Hero and Why People are Mean).
The other day, Ben Foss (author of the Dyslexia Empowerment Plan) was discussing how we should be measuring resilience and not ACT/SAT score for the criteria for getting into college (this was when the topic of profit/nonprofit came up I posted on the other day). I had many good discussions with him and others about how we need to stay focused on the positive but embrace the challenges and obstacles because they are a part of who we are and we have the freedom to choose our own personal scripts and attitudes.
I recently posted this picture on the Decoding DyslexiaOhio Facebook page only to have it taken down from the wall.
When I asked the other person who admins the page with me why she removed this from the wall she reported that she received an email requesting it be removed because it is a statement that was used against the family with a negative spin on it that the person was not trying hard enough. I was told it was “incredibly insensitive and outright rude.” I am one who will always openly listen the perspectives of another person so I am glad they shared their concerns. I am disappointed that I was not allowed to speak with this person or send them an email back, because this is what I'd like the person to know so they can tell this to the people at the school. -- This quote is NOT about a person’s brain being set but about how the person is dealing with life circumstances and their own attitudes and behaviors. I suspect the person does not know Randy Pausch or his work (Here’s my post on the Things I Learned from RandyPausch). Randy was dying of cancer and stated this quote knowing he could not change his cancer or the fact that he was dying but he could change his attitude about these experiences. A child cannot change their dyslexia (ADHD, Asperger’s…) but they can change their attitude about it- they can see the positive aspects of being dyslexic (ADHD, Asperger’s…). A parent cannot change the fact their child has a disability but they can change the way schools educate that child, the way others treat that child, and the way the child feels about themselves.
We need to all learn from the great Viktor Frankl (1905-1997). The cards he was dealt in life were some of the worst a human can endure (concentration camps), yet he learned that he had the power to control his attitude. “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” This is what Ben Foss meant when he was discussing resilience, this is what Randy Pausch was referring to when he made the statement I made into a picture quote, and this is why I posted that quote on the Decoding Dyslexia Ohio Facebook page.
Here’s are other lessons we can learn from Viktor Frankl. We need to practice these in our daily lives but also to teach these to our children. Living life based on the lessons from Viktor Frankl is the pathway to a better life!
“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.” - We cannot have good without the bad – the Yin without Yang! Yes, the suffering is painful but it is also there to make us feel alive, make us know we are human, and provides us with learning opportunities we can choose to ignore or do something about.
“It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.” - I meet some of the greatest people on my journey in life. These people are the ones who are taking a stand to make changes, not just for their own circumstances/child but for the greater good of all people/children. You are NOT a victim if you work on making a change even if it is as simple as changing your own attitude.
“A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes - within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.” – Again this goes back to the hand that is dealt is sometimes out of our control but how we behave is not out of our control. Ask yourself, how are you behaving toward others?
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Do not judge others because you do not know their exact mission in life. You only have one life so choose to life it authentically and with integrity.
“It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” – Humor is one of my favorite parenting techniques. The best way to get a point across without causing a child to experience negative feelings such as shame is to use humor. If you are feeling down or overwhelmed a dose of humor will help – I promise!
“For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.” – This is why I do what I do. I know my purpose in this world and it is to help others make these changes in their lives and the lives of others. To inspire and motive you to live an authentic life because you only have one life to live. Embrace your difficulties in life, the cards you were dealt, the challenges you have had to endure and know that you are a survivor. You are stronger and better because of the suffering and will be able to appreciate all the glory life has to offer!
Here are some picture quotes I made today of some of the other quotes from my mentor, Viktor Frankl! Enjoy and remember this final quote: “There is nothing in this world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one's life.”