“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl
We often define ourselves by things that are outside of us – our jobs, our relationships, or our accomplishments. When those things are taken away it challenges everything you believe in.
The Winter Olympics are approaching and it reminds me of what “could have been” if my accident hadn’t taken place. I talk about it briefly in the video below:
Wings for Life World Run video (2015)
How would it be if that truck driver did not hit me? My memories about that day are still painful to me; however, I have now found meaning in that experience by helping others who are also going through their own struggle.
One of the books I read while recovering from my accident was Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Written in 1946, Dr. Frankl describes his experience of survival in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Even with the deplorable conditions and suffering within the camp, Frankl described how he was able to find purpose in his life by imagining a positive outcome of his situation.
A few years ago I was invited to speak at the Viktor Frankl Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia as part of their “Art of Meaningful Living” event. Not only is it difficult to find meaning in the face of tragedy, but sometimes it’s hard to find meaning in everyday life.
Consider these ways for finding meaning in everyday living:
Give to a cause – whether it be financial or simply by volunteering your time and talent.
Identify a small act or pastime that you love and find time to do it. It doesn’t have to be a big dream – but a small act like watering your plants, taking a dancing lesson, or buying the Starbucks coffee for the car behind you.
Find happiness in what you already have… food to eat, fun friends, family, children, an adorable pet, doctors who care for you, etc.
Being of service to others and humanity is what gives our lives meaning. It enriches our lives, makes life more complete…and that is worth much more than any Olympic medal. Without my accident, I may have never learned to fly – and that is something that has given new meaning to me.
Please remember, it is not what happens to you in life that is important, but how you choose to respond. That is what gives life meaning.
Wishing you blue skies and tailwinds!
P.S. I’d love to hear your story about how you found meaning in your life as part of my Raise Your Straw movement! Email me and let me know!
P.P.S. Take a look at Olympic aerial skier Danielle Scott who is pursuing her Olympic dream in PyeongChang! I was honored that her team reached out to me recently and asked me to send her a video of encouragement. Good luck Dani!