I laughed out loud when I first read this meme on a friend’s Facebook page. I think the idea of an inspirational quote ending in such an unexpected way definitely worked as an attention-getter. More than that, though, it served as a much-needed reminder that, in every situation, I can choose to be happy or to be miserable. My choice doesn’t change the situation, but it significantly impacts my experience of it.
The past few weeks have been challenging in a variety of ways. A friend, who happened to be with me last week when one shoe dropped (there have been so many shoes dropping lately, you’d think I was a centipede) jokingly called me Job. We shared a laugh at that: right before my car, in which I had driven us to get ice cream to soothe my painfully sore throat, refused to start for the trip home.
In that moment, I realized that I had a choice: I could focus on the difficulties of the situation or I could focus on the blessings. After all, I was (thankfully) with a friend who had both the means and the generosity of spirit to help me out. I’m happy to say that, today, I chose not to give in to my inner miserable cow.
Victor Frankl, whose thoughtful ruminations and detailed recounting of life within the Nazi death camps, came to the conclusion that attitude is the final freedom each person holds. In speaking of the selfless behaviors of some people in the camps, Frankle says, “…but they offer sufficient proof that 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.”
We each face challenges in our lives. No one can say whose challenges are greatest, nor can we judge how others choose to face them. We CAN, however, be creative in seeing past our own misery. Just to be sure I was truly paying attention to the message, another friend posted the following video which brings the point home in an incredibly poignant manner. I love the message that joy can grow out of the worst of circumstances if we choose to put our energies there rather than investing in our misery.