The Duchess Digest: Question that Frown to Turn it Around

“He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how.” —Nietzsche

I recently read an excerpt from Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. He was reflecting on his initial depression and struggle as a prisoner in one of the Nazi concentration camps. He asked himself over and over, “Why is this happSunsets mean sunriseening to me?” It seems like a pretty fair question to ask in one of the most horrific situations of cruelty a human could endure. However, Mr. Frankl eventually chose to turn this question around. He reflected on Nietzsche’s philosophy about the “why” of our lives being the reason and the way we are driven to live. Frankl started to seek out others in the camp that seemed to be worse off then him. He would share his meager food rations and try to help and inspire who he could. Ultimately he said he realized that even when man seems to have no choices at all, he has the choice of his attitude and his character.

What a powerful realization. I’ve found myself asking “Why me?” a little too often lately. I read this excerpt from Mr. Frankl’s book and thought shame on me. There is always at least one person in our path each day that could benefit from our compassion and help. Turning the question “why me” into “how can I help?” is a great way to shift our minds away from selfishness. I have also found it’s a great way to feel connected to others around us.

Think of our recent election. Maybe your candidate choice won. Maybe he didn’t. Whether you voted Obama or not, one of the first things he said was that he recognized there were people who didn’t vote for him. But Obama acknowledged that he was still proud to be their President too and hoped they would benefit from his service. What a great example of inclusive compassion. Asking how we can be of service to others, even (and perhaps especially) the difficult people or those the most unlike ourselves is how we build community and choose our character. We all have the choice to ask “why me?” vs. “how can I help?” And it’s the little choices we make every day that build our habits and become our character. Hopefully our character will be made of kindness, of leadership and of service.

I recently read an excerpt from Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. He was reflecting on his initial depression and struggle as a prisoner in one of the Nazi concentration camps. He asked himself over and over, “why is this happening to me?” It seems like a pretty fair question to ask in one of the most horrific situations of cruelty a human could endure. However, Mr. Frankl eventually chose to turn this question around. He reflected on Nietzsche’s philosophy about the “why” of our lives being the reason and the way we are driven to live. Frankl started to seek out others in the camp that seemed to be worse off then him. He would share his meager food rations and try to help and inspire who he could. Ultimately he said he realized that even when man seems to have no choices at all, he has the choice of his attitude and his character.

What a powerful realization. I’ve found myself asking “Why me?” a little too often lately. I read this excerpt from Mr. Frankl’s book and thought shame on me. There is always at least one person in our path each day that could benefit from our compassion and help. Turning the question “why me” into “how can I help?” is a great way to shift our minds away from selfishness. I have also found it’s a great way to feel connected to others around us.

Think of our recent election. Maybe your candidate choice won. Maybe he didn’t. Whether you voted Obama or not, one of the first things he said was that he recognized there were people who didn’t vote for him. But Obama acknowledged that he was still proud to be their President too and hoped they would benefit from his service. What a great example of inclusive compassion. Asking how we can be of service to others, even (and perhaps especially) the difficult people or those the most unlike ourselves is how we build community and choose our character. We all have the choice to ask “why me?” vs. “how can I help?” And it’s the little choices we make every day that build our habits and become our character. Hopefully our character will be made of kindness, of leadership and of service.

—Jill Brown

Jill Brown - Duchess GuideJill Brown is a Los Angeles, California based Life Coach and Writer. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is a member of the National Association for Conflict Resolution and the Ladies Who Launch Network. She is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to helping women become their most fabulous and unique selves. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, traveler and health nut. When she isn’t writing or working on Duchess, Jill loves spending all her free time with her Labrador – Betty. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: TheDuchessGuide.com