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People who find meaning in their lives find hope

By Marilyn C. Arayata

IMAGINE the stark difference between wealthy, pampered, free and extremely comfortable people who chose to end their lives and the miserable conditions of holocaust prisoners who struggled to find hope – and survived. Holocaust prisoners who had some meaning in their lives were more likely to survive, according to world-renowned Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor himself.

What do you live for? Do you contribute anything to something which is bigger than yourself? If you feel bored and hopeless despite all the blessings, maybe it’s time to shift the focus from the “self” to something greater, bigger than yourself.

Frankl encouraged his fellow prisoners to look for something good, even a memory of a beautiful picture, and to look forward to something. He also encouraged them to look after each other and help prevent suicide. In Frankl’s case, the thought that he would someday be reunited with his wife, father, mother, and brother who were in separate camps helped him find hope. He also recreated a book manuscript using scraps of paper stolen by a fellow prisoner. After three years, Frankl was saved, but he learned that his wife, his father, mother, and brother died in the camps.

Even a miserable situation can be survived if people find enough meaning in their suffering and despite the suffering. “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 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,” says Frankl.

Is your situation miserable? What is the best option for you?

Find meaning in your suffering. Hold on to what is good and beautiful. Look forward to something that you value – anything that will make you want to survive, as you trust in God and do what you can to make the situation change.

You are here for a reason. Live your purpose. Strive to find hope and meaning in spite of the difficulties. Yes, you can!

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Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author, columnist, speaker, and former DLSU-D faculty, your partner in preventing bullying, depression, and suicide. E-mail mcarayata01@gmail.com. Like the Hope Boosters Facebook Page for nuggets of hope and inspiration.

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