While enjoying some personal quiet time during this Christmas-New Year holiday season I have been reflecting on the happenings of 2016 for me personally, and for millions of others around the world.
The stress of life for some, is far greater than the stress of life for others. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Viktor Frankl wrote in his epic book published in 1946, Man’s Search for Meaning. He went on to say, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
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Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his family in September 1942. While his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished, he saw situations where stress in the extreme was being played out in the camps, however, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not.He noted that the resilient souls who could harness the ‘bad stress’ and create meaning from it, moved ahead in their lives.
Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men felt helpless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for.
Frankl wrote, “In both cases, it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them. For one man, it was his young child, who was then living in a foreign country. For the other, a scientist, it was a series of books that he needed to finish. This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence, has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.”
Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful.
“Stress is not the enemy. The enemy is lack of recovery.” James Arthur Ray
In Australia, the 2015 Lifeline Stress Poll found that 40% of Australians are extremely stressed in some area of their life. Those without a satisfying life purpose fit into this group.
As you contemplate your path in life in 2017 and beyond, ask yourself the question each morning on rising, “why am I getting up this morning?” When your purpose in life is crystal clear, you will start to realize that stress is your friend.
The Stress Management Institute® conducts training for those individuals who wish to become a qualified Stress Management Practitioner or Stress Management Facilitator and embark on either a full time or part time exciting career caring for and supporting people who are struggling to cope with stress. If you are looking for a career change, or you wish to add a Stress Management specialty to your current career check out the courses or please call +61 1 300 663 979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org