Viktor Frankl

Don't Pursue Peace

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Viktor Frankl on happiness:

 

Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.

 

He compares it to humor. If you want someone to laugh you don’t just command it. “LAUGH! NOW!” Instead you give them something to laugh about. You make a joke.

The same is true for happiness. You don’t just scream “BE HAPPY!” you give them something to be happy about. Pursue something worthwhile and you’ll find happiness along the way.

Some times I think we get screwed up because we think the way we stop worrying and having anxiety is by telling ourselves that the Bible says “don’t do it.” As if that’s all it takes.

“The Bible says not to do this so I can’t do this. STOP IT!”

But passages about worrying and anxiety are more than that. They tell us WHY we shouldn’t worry. God is in control.

Instead of trying to force ourselves to have peace, we need to pursue something (or someone) who gives us peace.

I’m feeling anxious. Are there any reasons why I shouldn’t feel this way?

Yes.

God takes care of birds and grass and he loves me so much more than grass so I know he’ll take care of me. God will never leave me or forsake me. God is in control. I can go to God and cast all my fears on Him. He wants me to lean on Him.

Viktor Frankl and the Optimist's Calendar

this is Viktor Frankl. he changed my life.

this is Viktor Frankl. he changed my life.

I follow a Twitter account called Year Progress that only tweets updates on what percentage of the year we’ve completed.

I thought it would be a fun reminder of much time we have left in 2018. Turns out the dumb thing only freaks me out and sends me into a ridiculous panic.

It’s 2018. I graduated high school 10 years ago. I started doing comedy 10 years ago. I graduated from college 6 years ago. Comedy became my full time job 5 years ago. Next year is 2019. Then it’s 2020. I’m almost 29 which means I’m almost 30 which means I’m almost dead.

Everyone over 30 is reading this laughing while everyone under 25 is throwing up because of how old I am. Just a reminder to all you Over 30’s, you probably have a birthday coming up that freaks YOU out and it’s coming at you fast!

We can all get caught up in a panic about how time is slipping through our fingers. It marches on whether we want it to or not. This is only life we have and if we screw it up, there are no do-overs. No time machines (…yet?).

One of the most important things that happened to me this year was that I read Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning. It’s an incredible book that legitimately changed my life.

As I look at where we’re at on the progress bar of 2018 I’m reminded of one of the most impactful passages in the book.

 

“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,' he will think. 'Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

 

2018 is a little over 86% complete. That could easily fill me with dread. But I want to practice looking at that through the eyes of Frankl’s optimism.

Living like a Time Traveler Takes the Stress Away

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I’m in love with this recent “secret” shared on PostSecret.

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“Sometimes I pretend I’ve time traveled to the past and am re-living my life. Time with friends and family suddenly becomes a gift, a chance to be with them once more before they’re gone again.”

 

I have a feeling whoever wrote was inspired by the movie ABOUT TIME. The film is about a guy who discovers he can travel back in time to any moment in his life and change whatever he wants. By the end of the film he’s older, married, has two children, and is traveling back in time a whole lot less.

This is what he says in a closing monologue:

 

“The truth is, I now don't travel back at all, not even for a day. I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it... As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”

 

It’s a really beautiful thought and it’s so close to a concept I just read about in Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. 

Frankl, a psychologist who survived 5 years in Nazi concentration camp, puts it this way:

 

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”

 

There are several passages in this book I can confidently claim CHANGED MY FREAKING LIFE but this one is probably at the top of the list.

I’ve already found myself doing this little thought experiment before going to lunch with friends. “Ok. What if I’ve already had this lunch and I’m getting to do it again to fix all my mistakes. What mistakes would I make that need correcting? I probably would have spent too much time looking at my phone. I could be rude to the people working. I could be a terrible listener and miss opportunities to be more supportive. But not this time around!”

Time travel has always been a big deal for me. In college I went through a strange and awful depression where I got really obsessed with regrets and wished I could have a time machine to fix all my garbage mistakes.

It was not a healthy time for me.

 
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I have a tattoo of the flux capacitor from Back to the Future (it’s what makes time travel possible) on my leg. I got it several years ago because I wanted to remind myself that I don’t ever get a do over. You’ve got to get it right the first time because that’s all you have.

But now I’ve got Frankl in my head telling me to live like a time travel and make my life better.