Happy New Year! Yes, it's that time again when we're all given a chance to make resolutions that will help guide our thoughts and actions during the "new year." And while we're obviously going to carry over things from times past, the opportunity to begin "fresh" is upon us, should we choose--yes choose--to take advantage of it. Our personal and collective decisions to move forward and make the best of the new year, however, will not happen if we are "prisoners of our thoughts!"
With this in mind (no pun intended!), I want to welcome you, and in some cases, welcome you back, to the PRISONERS OF OUR THOUGHTS conversation series:
Indeed, I'm so glad to "see" you, and I especially look forward to getting to know each of you over time as we explore together ways to discover the deeper meaning in our life and work. Let me start by having you think about a couple of questions:
First, why do some people seem to have an easier time dealing with complex and challenging situations than others?
Second, why do some people seem more capable of dealing with change than others?
To be sure, we have all had the opportunity to witness these differences among people, as well as have seen the power of the human spirit "at work" in even the worst of life situations. It is timely that we start this series by exploring the first of Viktor Frankl's core principles that I introduce in my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts:
EXERCISE THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE
In all situations, no matter how desperate they may appear or actually be, you always have the ultimate freedom to choose your attitude.
"Everything can be taken from a man but--the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way."
--Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
LET'S NOW PUT MEANING INTO THIS CONVERSATION
I'd like know what you've experienced...and observed...in your personal life AND/OR work life that relates to this meaning-centered principle. Recall a situation in which you consciously exercised the freedom to choose your attitude about it. This could even be your current situation, or it could be one where you were confronted by a family member or friend, or a co-worker or difficult boss, or experienced an unexpected change in your life or work, in the past. What was your initial attitude toward the situation? How did it change over time? Did you actually "do" anything to change your attitude? If you have a difficult time focusing on yourself at first, think about your observations and inspirations of others that might help us all apply this principle in our own personal and work lives.
Talk with me! I look forward to learning from your thoughts and experiences. Indeed, let's learn from and support each other over the course of 2008 (and beyond)!
Importantly, let's begin the new year with a focus on meaning!
Once again, Happy New Year!
Alex Pattakos, Ph.D.
author, Prisoners of Our Thoughts
founder, Center for Meaning
NEW EDITION: Prisoners of Our Thoughts
New edition of Prisoners of Our Thoughts in paperback, Audiobook CD, and digital download formats! Prisoners of Our Thoughts applies Viktor Frankl's philosophy and therapeutic approach to life and work in the 21st century, detailing seven principles for increasing your capacity to deal with life-work challenges, finding meaning in your daily life and work, and achieving your highest potential. Among other changes, this new edition includes a new chapter on how readers of the hardcover edition have put the seven meaning-centered principles into action, both in their everyday lives and even in extreme situations such as in Indonesia after the tsunami (where several aid agencies adopted the book as part of their training and relief programs) and in post-Katrina New Orleans.