My daughter recently sent me an email that said: “Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes that reason is that you are stupid and you make bad decisions.” I don’t know how helpful that statement was for my belief system, but it was a reminder that I do have the power to choose the meaning of my life’s events. The meanings that we choose can either empower us or weaken us so we must choose carefully.
The years of 1942 to 1945 were an indescribable nightmare for a man named Victor Frankl. He endured the horror of the Nazi death camps. It was his conscious use of agency that allowed him to survive the hellish experiences and connect with his divine purpose.
Frank chose to believe that we cannot avoid suffering but we can find meaning in it and move forward with renewed purpose. He insisted that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, it is the discovery and pursuit of what we find meaningful.
He said: “We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, 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 way.
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour he was offered the opportunity to make a decision, he described it as “a decision whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of a typical inmate.” (Victor E Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 66)
We too can choose the meaning of everything that happens to us. We can choose to believe that everything happens for a reason, and it serves us. We can choose to believe that all things are working for our good.”