17 January 2017
Joy and sorrow are inseparable. . . together they come and
when one sits alone with you . . remember that
the other is
asleep upon your bed.
The insight we gain from solitude has very
little to do with
the amount of time we spend alone. It has a lot more
with the quality of time we spend with ourselves.
Jan Johnson Drantell
is something like an endangered species. The experience
is now so rare that we must guard it and treasure it.
Choice to Be Strong
We who lived in 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 person 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.
And there were always choices to make. Every day,
every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a
decision which determined 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 the typical inmate.
Seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the
inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than
the mere expression of certain physical and sociological
conditions. Even though conditions such as lack of
sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may
suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain
ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort
of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner
decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.
therefore, any person can, even under such circumstances,
decide what shall become of him or her--mentally and
spiritually. They may retain their human dignity
even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once,
"There is only one thing that I dread: not to
be worthy of my sufferings." Those words
frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with
those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and
death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner
freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they
were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their
suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is
this spiritual freedom--which cannot be taken away--that
makes life meaningful and purposeful.
An active life serves the purpose of giving people the
opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a
passive life of enjoyment affords them the opportunity to
obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art, or
nature. But there is also a purpose in that life
which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and
which admits of but one possibility of high moral
behavior: namely, in one's attitude to one's
existence, an existence restricted by external
forces. A creative life and a life of enjoyment are
banned to that person. But not only creativeness and
enjoyment are meaningful. 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.
The way in which a person accepts his or her fate and all
the suffering it entails, the way in which they take up
their crosses, gives them ample opportunity--even under
the most difficult circumstances--to add deeper meaning to
their life. It may remain brave, dignified, and
unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for
self-preservation they may forget their human dignity and
become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance
for people to make use of or to forego the opportunities
of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation
may afford them. And this decides whether they are
worthy of their sufferings or not.
Do not think that these considerations are unworldly and
too far removed from real life. It is true that only
a few people are capable of reaching such high moral
standards. Of the prisoners only a few kept their
full inner liberty and obtained those values which their
suffering afforded, but even one such example is
sufficient proof that our inner strength may raise us
above our outward fate. Such people are not only in
concentration camps. Everywhere people are
confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving
something through our own suffering.
the time of Frankl's death
in 1997, Man's Search for
Meaning had sold more than
ten million copies in twenty-four languages. A
1991 reader survey
for the Library of Congress that
asked readers to name a "book
that made a difference in your
life" found Man's Search for
Meaning among the ten most influential books in
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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of Living Life Fully explores different aspects of our
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comfortable in the world we live in. It explores 57 different
elements of who we are, from love to mindfulness to adversity to
prayer, in an effort to help you to figure out just where to
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Character, The Grandest Thing in the World
On the steps of a public building in Florence an old,
disabled soldier sat playing a violin.
By his side stood a faithful dog holding in his
mouth a veteran’s hat, into which, now and then, a
passer-by would drop a coin.
A gentleman, in passing, paused, and asked for
the violin; first tuning it, he then began to play.
The sight of a well-dressed man, playing a violin in
such a place, with such associations, attracted the
passers-by, and they stopped.
The music was so charming that they stood
number of contributions largely increased.
The hat became so heavy that the dog began to
was emptied, and soon filled again.
The company grew until a great congregation was
performer played one of the national airs, handed the
violin back to its owner, and quickly retired.
One of the company present said:
“This is Amard Bucher, the world-renowned
did this for charity; let us follow his example.”
And immediately the hat was passed for a
collection for the old man.
Mr. Bucher did not give a penny, but he flooded
the old man’s day with sunshine.
So, too, it was related that when Michael Angelo was
at the height of his fame, when monarchs and popes
were paying fabulous prices for his works, a little
boy met him on the street, with an old pencil and a
piece of dirty brown paper, and asked him for a
great artist sat on the curbstone and drew a picture
for his little admirer.
A like charming story is told of Jenny Lind, the great
Swedish singer, which shows her noble nature.
Once when walking with a friend she saw an old
woman tottering into the door of an almshouse.
Her pity was at once excited, and she entered
the door, ostensibly to rest for a moment, but really
to give something to the poor woman.
To her surprise, the old woman began at once to
talk of Jenny Lind, saying,--
“I have lived a long time in the world, and desire
nothing before I die but to hear Jenny Lind.”
“Would it make you happy?” inquired Jenny.
“Ay, that it would; but such folks as I can’t go
to the playhouse, and so I shall never hear her.”
“Don’t be so sure of that,” said Jenny.
“Sit down, my friend, and listen.”
She then sang, with genuine glee, one of her best
old woman was wild with delight and wonder, when she
“Now you have heard Jenny Lind.”
Sweeter than the perfume of roses is a reputation for
a kind, charitable, unselfish nature; a ready
disposition to do to others any good turn in your
mind’s sweetness,” says Herbert, “has its
operation on the body, clothes, and habitation.”
So Cervantes spoke of one whose face was like a
looking,” as Horace Smith remarks, “is looking
good,” says our Amesbury poet, “be womanly, be
gentle, generous in your sympathies, heedful of the
good breeding of all around you,--and you will not
lack kind words of admiration.”
Was there ever an unselfish person, of charitable and
generous impulses, sociable, loving, kind, of tender
spirit, thoughtful for others, who was not universally
indeed, is the light-bearer.
Some people are born happy.
No matter what their circumstances are, they
are joyous, content, and satisfied with everything.
They carry a perpetual holiday in their eyes,
and see joy and beauty everywhere.
When we meet them they impress us as having
just met with some good luck, or as having some good
news to tell. Like
the bees that extract honey from every flower, they
have a happy alchemy which transmutes even gloom into
the sick-room they are better than the physician and
more potent than drugs.
All doors open to these people.
They are welcome everywhere.
The most fascinating person is always the one of the
most winning manners; not the one of greatest physical
We do not need an introduction to feel his greatness,
if you meet a cheerful man on the street on a cold day
you seem to feel the mercury rise several degrees.
* * *
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doesn't come from business or books or even a connection
another person. It is a connection to your own life force, the
world around you and the spirit that connects us all. You are
source. Books, work, music, people, sunsets all provide
but only you can light the fire.
Success Is the Quality of Your Journey
Perhaps one of the most
difficult lessons that I've ever learned--certainly one
that took a very long time to manifest itself in my
life--is the ability to show other people that I
honestly do care about them. In my life, I believe
it has to do with risk: if I show I care and the
other person rejects that caring, it could hurt.
Or at least, that's how I used to see things.
Nowadays, though, I'm able to show others that I care
about them without having any expectations of how
they'll react, and that ability has proved to be one of
the most important elements of my life.
You see, I used to take any rejection personally.
I allowed it to make me think that there was something
wrong with me that caused someone else to reject me and
my caring. That, though, was rather silly. I
would take things personally because I had certain
expectations about how people should react to my
caring. If I expressed my caring and the other
person acted in a way I didn't expect or a way that made
me feel rejected, I was miserable. So I went about
not showing others the fact that I cared about them, and
that way I didn't face rejection.
Nowadays, though, I try to show caring in little ways,
and I don't have any expectations at all as to how
people should react. If someone tells me about a
problem and I offer to help out and that person says no,
then I keep in mind that a lot of people have a support
system in place already--relatives and friends who can
offer their support in times of need--and extra help may
be more of a bother in a difficult time than a
help. If my offer of a caring response comes with
conditions and I'm disappointed if those conditions
aren't met, then the problem is mine. Any offers
of help that we make should be made without any
expectations of the other person accepting at all--I've
shown that I care, and the person to whom I've offered
my aid has every right to either accept or decline my
often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a
a listening ear, an honest
compliment, or the smallest act
of caring, all
which have the potential to turn a life around.
Our caring can have
profound effects on others. Some people go
through their daily lives thinking that no one cares
for or about them at all. A simple
demonstration of our caring by asking how someone
is--and then actually listening to the answer--will
show that person that we actually do care. Our
caring isn't going to cure depression or turn
someone else's life into a paradise, but it can at
least act as another brick in a positive wall--it
can be another piece of a puzzle that the person can
put together to see that yes, the world really is a
caring place, and there are more caring people than
there are people who don't care at all.
Sometimes what we give is merely a small piece to
that much bigger puzzle that all of us are trying to
It's not always easy to show you care. There
are societal pressures and norms, for example, that
keep us from showing our caring in healthy
ways. We used to be able to give hugs, for
example, but our society has deemed that hugs are
often inappropriate and people can actually get in
trouble now for giving them. As a teacher, for
example, I don't even entertain the notion of
hugging my students--neither my college students nor
the students I taught while in high school.
When I see them when they're no longer my students,
that rule no longer applies, but the possibility of
problems keeps me from showing my caring in that
way. So I stick to encouragement and doing my
best to notice signs that things may not be going
well for someone. I miss those signs often,
I'm sure, so I try to encourage anyone I can any
time I can in an effort not to miss the chance to
help someone else.
We all have peers and other people in our lives,
too, who could use our caring, but to whom it's
difficult to show that we care without sending mixed
signals. How do you show your boss that you
care without seeming like you're sucking up to him
or her? How do you show a person who doesn't
understand boundary issues that you care without
having that person misinterpret your caring for
something deeper--and what do you do if this
happens? Sometimes I'm a bit afraid to show
someone that I care because I know that the person
will become clingy and simply won't leave me in
peace, partly because other people are also afraid
to show their caring for the same reason. It's
a legitimate reason for not showing caring, but is
it really the most helpful? I sincerely don't
know the answer to that question.
Do what you can
to show you care about other people,
and you will make our world a better place.
But the bottom line of
caring is that we really are here to make the world
a better place, aren't we? Can we do that
hiding behind our walls and shields that we devise
to keep us "safe" from being
"hurt"? I don't think that we
can. We don't need to change the whole world
to make it a better place (though I'm pretty sure
that if I were king, I could improve things!).
We only have to help the person who is next to us
right here, and right now. And to help them,
we don't need to "fix" their lives for
them--we only need to let them know that we
care. And letting them know we care isn't
about making ourselves available to them twenty-four
hours a day, seven days a week. We also need
to be sure that we don't move from caring to
You see, a person who feels cared-for has more
confidence and is willing to take more chances in
life. This person is able to spend time alone,
and is much less likely to resort to negative
methods of gratification, such as addictive
substances or violence. These people aren't
going to get as frustrated, and they're not going to
have as many issues with anger. And more
importantly, they're going to be more likely to pass
on the caring to others, adding even more positive
energy to this world of ours.
One of my biggest problems is showing that I care
for everyone, not just the people who are
like me or the people who agree with me or share my
biases and likes and dislikes. Some of the
most important lessons I've learned in life have
come from people that I thought had nothing to teach
me because they were so different from me--so now I
know that I need to extend my caring to every person
on this planet. After all, most of the people
who do hateful things do so because they haven't
been shown much caring, or they've learned to reject
the caring as a defense mechanism because of
perceived hurts earlier in their lives.
what to say is not always necessary; just the presence
of a caring friend can make a world of difference.
And I can't ignore the
potential problems that can arise when we show
caring to someone of the other gender, someone who
may be attracted to us physically, or who may wish
to have a relationship that's deeper than friendship
or acquaintanceship. Will that person misread
our caring for something deeper, and thus feel that
it's appropriate to pursue a relationship at a level
that we don't really feel comfortable with?
This does happen, and the question that we have to
ask ourselves is whether or not we're willing to
deal with that sort of complication. It may be
better for everyone involved that the amount and
type of caring that we show be much less when that
type of dynamic is possible. There really is
no law saying that the amount and type of caring
that we show to others has to be equal for everyone.
I do care. I even care about people I've never
met, including you. And I care not because I'm
supposed to or because it's the "right"
thing to do according to some teaching. I care
because my heart tells me that everyone on this
planet deserves my caring, and that I don't have the
right to withhold my caring from anyone for any
reason. Sometimes that makes things difficult
for me, and I think that I'll always have problems
in showing that caring. But if I want
my life to have meaning, then I need to care, and I
need to let others know that I care. After
all, if I don't, then what possible purpose can I
find for this life of mine?
of the most important elements
of living life fully is
awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people
and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that
affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively.
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no telling what's inside each person that we meet,
no telling the potential that each person has for growth
and for doing exceptional things. Just like the apple seed,
though, our potential is realized by creating just the right
conditions for our growth and development. Just as the
apple cannot thrive in dry, barren climes, so is it difficult
for us to thrive in situations that are not fitting.
was driving north on Highway 101, just ten minutes past
the Golden Gate Bridge, on my way to the Richmond Bridge
in San Rafael. I planned to cross the bay and drive
on north from there to Antioch, where I had an important
business meeting. Even though it was midday, I found
myself suddenly in gridlock traffic. I thought I
might miss my appointment in Antioch. I began to
feel anxious. I became irritated at the drivers I
saw joining the freeway traffic from entrance ramps
without leaving any space for the cars already on the
highway to move forward. It was looking less and
less likely that I'd be at my appointment on time. I
noticed that my body had become tense and I was gripping
the wheel. Then I looked out the driver's side
window and saw Mount Tamalpais. I looked out to my
right and saw Richardson Bay. I thought, "I am
sitting between two major tourist attractions.
People come from all over the world to sit exactly where I
am sitting right now in order to have this
view." I sat back and appreciated the
view. My hands unclenched. My body
relaxed. My mind relaxed. Then I had this big
my revelation: "I'll get to Antioch when I get
to Antioch. Maybe today. Maybe not
today. Maybe I'll be there for the meeting.
Maybe I won't be there for the meeting. Whatever
will be will be. My getting aggravated is not
changing the situation. It is making it worse."
traffic did start up again, I didn't drive too fast, so I
didn't become a menace to myself and everyone else on the
highway. That's the important part. . . . You need
to keep looking for whatever perspective you can find that
will transform the moment.
as related to Sylvia
all doing time. As soon as we get born, we find
ourselves assigned to one little body, one set of desires
and fears, one family, city, state, country, and planet.
Who can ever understand exactly why or how it comes down
as it does? The
bottom line is, here we are.
wherever we are, this is what we’ve got.
to us whether we do it as easy time or hard time.
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