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.