Updated: Jan 24
Victor Frankl, who was in a concentration camp in Germany during the Holocaust, wrote in “Man’s Search for Meaning” that “If I have a ‘Why, (meaning), I can get to any How (process). According to Frankl, the reason for the hope is more important than the way one is going to get through a situation.
During this time in the midst of a pandemic, we have all had to adjust to a multitude of changes. Whether it is job changes, online school, managing child-care, or concern over contracting COVID, there are many ways additional stress can enter our lives during the past year. Not to mention increased racial tensions and a very divided political environment. I would like to discuss a change in perception that can help us look at the future with more hope.
I once attended an (online) training where a head of the Make a Wish Foundation spoke about research that showed how having hope for a future outcome can not only change perception of a situation but also improve physical health. Children who were a part of the Make A Wish foundation had lower doctor bills and hospital visits totaling up to $120,000 just because their wish was selected to be granted! While there is a perception that the Make a Wish Foundation is used when a child is terminally ill, many children actually live and thrive after their wish is granted. One teen who had cancer was told her wish of having a makeover in Paris would be granted stated to her parents, “I have to get better - I am going to Paris!”
Having hope in an outcome that we desire is powerful, if we believe it will happen. I see this with clients who have trauma. The belief of the traumatic event(s) are more powerful than the event itself. I like to use Scripture when applicable. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind: For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (New Living Translation). Having Hope that God has a plan for us during a difficult situation gives us a purpose in the situation, allowing us to focus on what God can show us instead of just trying to get through the difficulty.
This change in perception allows us to view the situation in a positive filter, instead of a negative one. Focusing on a positive outcome is a shift that allows us to go through a difficult time with a focus on a positive end result. How do we focus on the positive if we can’t see any positives in our situation? Breaking down our day and celebrating small successes in our lives is especially important. Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” allows us to recognize these small successes, setting us up to be able to recognize bigger successes later on. The repetition of seeing small successes in our lives is the “How,” once we have a “Why” that is farther out in the future, such as recognizing that we will get through the pandemic and be stronger with more resiliency than before.