Sunday, September 27, 2015

Change



"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

-- Viktor E. Frankl

My "situation" -- life -- got so busy over the past year or so that I neglected to blog about it.

The year without a doubt provided more material for interesting posts than any since I started this blog. But in the process of living through it all I didn't make much the time to write. 

Most interesting of all is that more and more I found myself able to apply the wisdom of Viktor Frankl, a psychologist whose work and approach to life I have admired and attempted to incorporate into my life for many years.

Frankl said:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

There has been lots of change in my life recently, not all easy, of course, but I do my best to choose for it all to be meaningful. Finding meaning is the key element.

Frankl was a young Viennese doctor who survived years in Nazi concentration camps. He became known after the war for using the time he was incarcerated under inhumane conditions, with wife, friends and family gone and others dying all around him, to develop his theories. Frankl's major conclusion was that people most likely to thrive, even under the most extreme and difficult circumstances, are the ones who have a compelling reason to live. His experiences resulted in a book titled Man's Search for Meaning.

We all know if we're honest with ourselves that control and security are illusions. The structures that maintain our sense of stability and safety are fragile and can come tumbling down quickly due to illness, death, accident, economic downturn, loss of employment, or any one of a number of other causes. 

How we react to the losses is the key to finding meaning and moving on. As Frankl said, when you can't change a situation, you have to change yourself. I have done my best to put this principle into practice in my life.

As a result, over time I find myself happier, having more fun and worrying much less over things I can't control.

Mexico has been a big catalyst of the change. There is a Mexican approach to living that a foreigner here can absorb by interacting with and thoughtfully observing friends and neighbors. Aspects of this attitude, which I think of as la vida a la mexicana, mesh well with what Viktor Frankl discovered for himself in a different place and time. It's something that keeps life refreshing. Even after a dozen years living in Yucatán, I am still learning.


Text and images copyright 2015 by Marc Olson