“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
“Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.” – Robertson Davies
This rule: this rule is my most treasured rule. It is simple, but expands into everything in life. It is such an invasive philosophy that there is really nowhere that it cannot be applied. It makes up a part of my very identity, even. Yet, despite such an invasive role in my life, it is one I still find particularly difficult at times as well.
A quote from a holocaust survivor, Viktor E Frankl, on my rule about being a survivor seemed too perfect to resist. As did a picture of the tattoo on my back with that saying that seems to guide my life a lot more than most other things.
I came up with the “I am a Survivor / I came through this / I am Stronger and Better because of it” during a therapy session for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I don’t want to spend much time on this post talking about that, but it gives some good background on why I consider this rule so important. This is the philosophy that has set me free. This is the rule that living by has opened unlimited possibilities in my life. I truly think that anyone can experience the same effects in their own life by following this rule as well.
So, obviously, with my history of PTSD, this rule has something to do with overcoming adversity. Allowing the bad things that happen in life to shape you into a stronger, better person than was possible before those things happened. It is about recognizing that life is happening for you, not to you. It is about making your own choice about how to respond to life, and taking responsibility for that choice.
And if you can capture that, you really, truly understand what this is all about.
Be a survivor, someone who grows from those things. Don’t let life control who you are or how you feel. No matter who you are, you owe it to yourself to embrace the freedom that can never be taken away from you: the freedom to define your own self, your own attitudes, your own emotions. In all things.
Hidden in this philosophy is an attitude to take to even the best of times as well! Take responsibility for yourself, and charge forward. Don’t let an obstacle prevent you from getting what you want out of life. Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams. Survive whatever blocks you; overcome them, and complete it. I’m not saying don’t learn from those obstacles: quite on the contrary, I’m saying embrace them and make your dreams and your goals even greater as a result of having faced them.
Be a survivor. Always.