“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” --Stephen Covey

 One of the ultimate examples of being the master of your fate is Victor Frankl. As a Jew imprisoned in a concentration camp for three years, Frankl endured horrible treatment and witnessed things worse than most nightmares. However, it was during that terrible point in his life that Frankl penned the immortal words, “The last of human freedoms—the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances.” If anyone had an excuse to succumb to his circumstances and blame others for his suffering, it was Frankl. But instead he chose a different response: to focus on the benevolence of some of his fellow prisoners rather than on the cruelty of the guards. By focusing on the compassionate things that his fellow prisoners did for each other he was able to retain his hope in humanity. While many around him understandably fell victim to the despair and eventually perished, he maintained a positive attitude and prevailed. While our own struggles today are significantly different than what Victor Frankl experienced in the concentration camp, we can learn from his example; if he was able to focus on the positive in such dire circumstances, we too can certainly do the same in our own daily struggles.

In an earlier post, I shared my story about how I felt like girls simply weren’t attracted to me because I was short. The situation seemed to be out of my control. However, rather than become a bitter recluse, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I made the commitment to improve myself and began doing all I could do to develop friendships with many girls. As William Henley points out, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” We become this by taking complete responsibility for how we react to each situation in which we find ourselves. 

The rest of this post has now been published in my book Standing up for Standing Out: Making the most of Being Different in Kindle or hard copy.The book includes experiences from 74 people I interviewed who share their struggles and coping strategies on the topics of relationships, belonging, standing out, self-acceptance, working against labels, gaining understanding and compassion, and personal growth. Check it out!

“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”  --Ella Wheeler

Strive to Thrive

Life-changing strategies to help you maximize your potential.
Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D.

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

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