What do you wake up for?
You may think of me as the weight loss guru, the man who lost all that weight, kept it off, and now teaches others. Well, that’s true, but I’m a trained and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked with all sorts of people wanting help with all sorts of problems and wanting help achieving all sorts of things.
In private practice, I work with high performance successful people who want help with one area of their life that’s giving them fits: their weight. In my community mental health work, it’s mainly unhappy people who have not been able to get out of the rut of unhappiness they’ve been living in.
How about you? Are you happy with the way things are? When you wake up, are you dreading the day? Or when you wake up, are you excited about what’s ahead? Are somedays filled with happy anticipation, like when you are meeting someone you miss, or heading to an event you’ve been looking forward to? Are other days lacking?
You’d be surprised how many people wake up dreading what’s before them. A lot of them hate their jobs. Some hate their lives. Even those that don’t have severe angst are often feeling lost, not knowing what’s missing, but knowing life is not as happy as they’d like it to be. They are just going through the motions.
Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, discovered that the energy to live and thrive, despite the most difficult of challenges, was born by having an important purpose, something to live for. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist in Austria when the Nazis came to power., In 1944, he became a prisoner in Auschwitz death camp in WWII Germany. There, he observed that some prisoners would whither and die while others survived. He often saw that the only diagnosable difference was having a vitally important purpose to live, a burning desire to stay alive for a reason. They needed something they would vividly imagine and pursue with a vengeance. It caused them to survive where others without such an important purpose did not. He went on to form a kind of therapy based on his findings, logotherapy, to help people overcome problems, and thrive.
We need to experience more than Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation,” with our needs unmet, body, mind and spirit. And we need to do more than succeed in one arena, like business and career, while the other aspects of our lives whither. We need to be truly happy, thriving. So we need an important purpose that feeds our whole being, not just an aspect of our life.
Frankl found that even an evil purpose, like exacting vengeance on one’s mortal enemy, could help a person survive, though hate leads to decay of another kind. It is the same with an important purpose like reaching the pinnacle of career or financial success, but lacking in attention to the well-being of the body, mind and spirit.
What is it that you live for, that excites you when you dream of it, that you wake up craving to experience? The goal to thrive is a good one. When we thrive, we have attended to our needs for a healthy body, for healthy relationships, for satisfying purpose and worthwhile work, and fun too— for satisfaction of all our needs, body, mind and spirit. Picture yourself thriving in that way, and let that be what you dream of and what you wake up for.
I read Frankl’s excellent book, Man’s Searchfor Meaning, after Dr. William Glasser did a one-day lecture for the faculty at our high school. Both Frankl and Glasser have greatly influenced my life, along the same lines as my maternal grandfather. As a teacher, I never got out of bed and went to school to earn money; rather, I did it to help my wonderful students take that frightening step from childhood to adulthood. All those French verbs were just an excuse to enter their lives and, although I intended to never retire, once I became a grandmother to a granddaughter that lived out of town, I knew that my new role was to move nearby so that my granddaughter would have grandparents nearby. As it ended up, we live less than two miles away and both granddaughters stay with us on Friday nights, allowing for a close relationship for not only our granddaughters and ourselves, but also for our daughter and her husband.
Once a teacher, always a teacher.