How did Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived Nazi death camps, manage stress?
Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, explained managing his stress while in a Nazi death camp in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” one of the most influential books of all time. In it he emphasized the importance of making meaning for one’s life.
Here is an example from a classic tale about having meaning in your life, which has a direct effect on how you manage stress.
A man was walking down the street when he came upon three workers at a construction site. All of them were doing the same job. He asked the first worker what he was doing. The worker replied, “Breaking up these rocks.” The man then asked the second worker what he was doing. This worker said, “I’m earning a living.” The man then asked the third worker, who responded, “I’m building a cathedral.” Clearly the third worker had a vision. He understood the larger significance of his work.
Regardless of what you do in life, you can be making a contribution that gives meaning to life. For example, just greeting or smiling at someone enhances that person’s life. When your mindset is that of focusing on others, life becomes more meaningful.
Here is a personal example of this idea of focusing on others. I have been taking Pilates lessons from the same instructor once a week for a number of years. She recently told me how she was moving back to her home state to take care of her elderly parents. On our final session, she said to me dejectedly, “Marv, I have been living In Southern California for 31 years and I have only one friend.”
I suggested to her that reflecting on relationships is quite natural but perhaps she was reflecting on the wrong thing. The more important vision would be thinking about how she helped others. I told her that I was a living testimonial to that. My posture has improved, my walking properly has improved, my scoliosis is in check, and I am more physical fit because of her influence.
This change of thinking put an immediate smile on her face. This change of thinking will have a positive influence on you too.
Tip: Keep the larger vision of your influence on others. When you realize that you are making a contribution, you can manage stress and enhance your self-empowerment.
Live Without Stress
Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote my newest book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print book (Buy one and get a second copy free to give as a gift), as an eBook, and as an audio book at PiperPress.com.