In Man's Search for Meaning, Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recounts the time he was on a work detail in a concentration camp. He and his fellow inmates were sent from the death camp to in a rock quarry. As long as they could endure their back-breaking labor, they could stave off death. They were constantly brutalized and dehumanized by their overseers. They never knew how long they would last.
And yet, one day, despite their immense suffering, Frankl and the other men couldn't help notice the splendor of the sunset over the mountains of Salzburg. They were reminded not only that there was still beauty in the world, but that they were still capable of appreciating it. And the knowledge inspired them to make it through another miserable day; the knowledge helped make it that much less miserable. And years later, when life was no longer miserable, Frankl could still remember the beauty of the moment when beauty helped restore his soul.
(For a discussion of what prompted the Smile a Day column, see an earlier post)
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