One of the world’s best known books that I read in high school is Viktor Frankl’s best seller Man’s Search for Meaning. It was originally published in 1946 and dramatically moved and inspired me. The main premise of the book is that everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances and that a person’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose in any given situation.
So imagine my delight and fascination when I heard Dr Edith Eger interviewed by Oprah in her Super Soul Sunday podcast. Edith is Hungarian born and was a teenage ballerina when her family was taken to Auschwitz and separated from them. When the camp was liberated by the allies she was found in a pile of bodies by a US GI. She had a broken back and a variety of diseases such as diphtheria and pneumonia. Edith moved to the United States with her husband and eventually graduated with a PhD, becoming an eminent psychologist working with PTSD patients.
In 2018 Edith’s first book The Choice, Embrace the Possible was published, in the same year she turned 91. It is her memoir of her time at the hands of Dr Mengela and the Nazis. The driving message is that what kept her going was her mother’s advice that no one can take from you what you put in your mind. Edith says:
I always told myself: if I survive today, I will be free tomorrow! One strength I developed in the camp was to let go of things I have no control of. There is no crisis, just transitions. There are no problems, just challenges. You are not what has been done to you.
Both Viktor Frankl and Edith Eger overcame the most brutal of experiences to go on and share great wisdom and inspiration with the world. They made the choice to turn surviving one of the world’s worst atrocities into powerful gifts that they could share to help heal the world.
That same power is within us all. We can choose how to view everything that happens to us and just as you can change your habits, you can change your thinking. Changing your thinking will change your behaviour. You are the only person responsible for the choices that you make, therefore you have a large responsibility for the outcomes.
William Glasser, MD, wrote Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom, which states, amongst other things, that all we do is behave and almost all behaviour is chosen. Positive and optimistic thinking and the relevant choices and behaviour will help in all areas of your life, including relationships, satisfaction and happiness.
If you’re looking for external inspiration to raise your levels of satisfaction with your life, but you don’t like to read (even though you’re reading this now) find podcasts or audio books that will inspire and motivate you. Dr Edith Eger is still doing the speaking circuit today and her powerful message is continuing to change the hearts and minds of millions.