I once encountered an individual that could not identify a single moment of true happiness in their entire life of 60 years. After many years in therapy, this client hit a crossroads. Too much time in utter dissatisfaction had worn them out. It was time to change.
In my work, I have witnessed many perspectives such as this one. In my most humble position as witness to these many stories of despair, I notice something special. Attitude. Long ago, I read a book recommended to me by a colleague; “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Victor Frankl. In this inspiring novel about one man’s survival of the holocaust, the author proposes that the difference between one individual’s rising above struggle and another individual’s ultimate demise is quite simple; identify a purpose in life that you feel positive about, and then immerse yourself in the vision of that outcome.
To minimize anger and rage over a situation being not what you want, you acknowledge that your shift in how you perceive this event can change everything. Otherwise, the alternative is being paralyzed by your own pain and suffering. Reframe “stress” to instead be viewed as a challenge. Essentially, this is radically accepting that what has happened cannot be undone. The radical part is taking action where you do have control.
In a popular TED talk, researcher and social worker, Shawn Achor reminds us that 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted by how you view your world and how your brain processes information and struggles. If we truly digest this research, we become aware that this attitude, this lense in which we see our world holds the secret to accessing happiness. And perhaps as Shawn Achor proposes, it also holds the secret to success, because your brain functioning at positive is 31% more productive.
Like a muscle that is rarely used, the practice of this lifestyle shift is necessary in order to overcome life’s challenges. There is seemingly something spiritual about this journey. While dancing around my emotional pain and not getting swallowed up by it, I must meet my logical brain in order to find my way back home to my wise and intuitive center.
And the journey is well worth the Effort.