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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
-Viktor E. Frankl
Who amongst us hasn’t felt imprisoned by life’s events at one time or another, leaving us with the bitter taste of hopelessness? No matter what we do, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and the darkness consumes us, affecting our beliefs which, in turn, manifest themselves into our attitudes and ultimately our behaviors.
Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl survived the horrors and atrocities as a prisoner in the Holocaust by finding meaning in all forms of existence, including suffering. In his book Man’s Search For Meaning, he describes the effects of lost faith:
“The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.” p. 47
Those such as Frankl who choose to find meaning in their daily existence realized “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how,” a sentiment that rings true in The Shawshank Redemption, where an innocent man’s imprisonment and subsequent resiliency to lose all hope influences a fellow inmate to forgo his years of cynicism and embrace a very similar notion to Dr. Frankl’s:
“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
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