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Issue of October 22, 2014

A hope note
A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

Attitude is everything

December 31, 2013 | 09:26 AM

"We can't go back and make a brand new start, but we can start now to make a brand new end."

Is this a piece of sophomoric, pious drivel? Surely it was written by someone oblivious to the world of suffering, someone hermetically sealed high above the fray in a comfy tower.

Actually, the writer survived three years in Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps where his father, mother, wife and brother perished; where everything he possessed got taken away and destroyed; where he daily faced hunger, cold, brutality and the second-to-second possibility of getting exterminated like a cockroach.

Following liberation by Americans from the concentration camp on April 27, 1945, Viktor Frankl dedicated the remainder of his days to encouraging people in extreme circumstances to persevere and find enough meaning in life to carry on. After "The Diary of Anne Frank," Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" is the most bought book in Washington, D.C.'s, Holocaust Museum.

Frankl's message? "Don't expect happiness as your right. You waste your time asking, 'Why am I unhappy?' or 'What is life's meaning?' Ask rather, 'What is life demanding of me right now?' Then get busy doing it. Do good things, honorable things, responsible things, magnanimous things, and not just as means to some end. Do them just because they're right. In doing the right, you are forging within yourself the only thing you completely possess, what no one can ever take from you: your attitude."

At 90, losing his vision, Frankl told interviewer Matthew Scully that with every new physical challenge he draws a deep breath, pauses a second and then says to himself: "What I would have given then if I could have had no greater problem than I face today."

Choose to make this a good year.

Dr. Wayne Willis

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