(Shared by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)
Originally Posted to the Ohio State University Extension-Community Development Blog
on January 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
by author Becky Nesbitt, OSU Extension CD, Assistant Professor & Extension Educator (Ohio Valley EERA)
Happiness…it’s important to Americans – in fact, the unalienable right to search for happiness is touted in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The document that represents the foundation upon which our country was built, calls out the importance of happiness – now that’s something. I won’t deny that being happy is important, and it sure does feel good, but is it all that matters? Is happiness the goal, or is it a byproduct of something more meaningful?
From the time I was an undergraduate, and heard a political science professor talk about his experience as a young child in a Nazi concentration camp, I’ve been fascinated with the stories of Holocaust survivors. Hundreds of books have been penned by these remarkable people, and a recurring theme among them seems to focus on the survivors’ ability to find meaning, even in the most bleak and horrible situations.
Viktor Frankl, a noted neurologist and psychiatrist, wrote in his memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, about his experiences at Auschwitz and Dachau. Frankl examines the importance of finding significance, even in unbearable circumstances. He writes that a person who, “knows the why for his existence, will be able to bear almost any how.” Wow, that’s definitely about more than just feeling happy. But Frankl goes on to say that, “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.” Maybe his point is not that we should chase happiness, but that we can choose it – that in our pursuit of meaning, we choose an attitude that allows us to be helpful, grateful and kind – an attitude that opens us to happiness – or at least to a more positive emotional state. More…