“How did she have this attitude to persevere in life, and overcome every obstacle?”
In Nothing is Missing, I shared how one piece of advice taught me there is no magic or secret to creating a successful life.
“Your day belongs to another’s dream.”
Through the years, I have learned how to work hard, believe in myself, and try my best to overcome the challenges life deals me. Perhaps the biggest lesson has been to shift my focus from what I want, to having gratitude for where I am at the moment — to live like nothing is missing.
Three very different people, who have faced incredible calamities, exemplify what it means to live like nothing is missing. They each inspire me to be better.
Viktor Frankl witnessed and endured unfathomable atrocities during three years in three different concentration camps during World War II. His wife Tilly, mother Elsa, father Gabriel, and brother Walter all died or were killed during their captivity. Apart from himself, the only survivor of the Holocaust among Frankl’s immediate relatives was his sister Stella.
Somehow, through all the horror, Viktor was able to identify a purpose in his current circumstances to feel positively about, and then immerse his focus on that.
On April 27, 1945, the Americans liberated him. In 1946, he wrote a book about his experiences as a German prisoner, and described the method he used for survival. Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the ten most influential books in the United States.1
This is an important book for everyone to read.
Missing Both Legs
Jennifer Bricker was born without legs and given up for adoption at birth. Fortunately, she was adopted by wonderful parents who viewed her life as an opportunity. Sharon and Gerald Bricker had one simple rule in their family: never say the word can’t. They applied this rule equally to their three “healthy” sons and to their adopted daughter with no legs!
Their rule worked wonders. Jennifer says, “If you are never given limits, then you think, ‘I can do anything.’” She took this attitude all the way to the top of her sport, becoming the top tumbling champion for the state of Illinois.
This video clip, originally part of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, reports Jennifer is now in Hollywood, living a normal, independent life, and earning a living as a gymnast.
Missing an Arm
Bethany Hamilton survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off.
“While still lying in bed, with her arm recently bandaged, 13-year-old Bethany was smiling at visitors and quietly pondering her future. She had always wanted to be a professional surfer, but would it be possible to surf at all with just one arm? And would she have the courage to go back in the water again?The answer to the second question was a big fat ”Yes!“ A surfer since before she could walk, Bethany determined to surf again if she possibly could. She would just trust God for the outcome, as she had been doing all along.”2
Bethany has an indomitable spirit. She says, “It’s almost nice that it happened when I was young,” because it was easier for her to adapt to the change. Sounds like she lost her favorite surfboard, not her left arm!
I smiled the entire time watching this short video, How Does She Do It | One Arm Surf Girl.
First World Problems
“Veterans I’ve worked with who have returned from the hellish experiences of war call our problems “First World Problems” (e.g. the car won’t start, coworkers are annoying, or it’s raining)” says Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. As a consequence the attention paid to relatively minor nuisances, Dr. Seppälä continues, “our stress levels increase and we are not as happy as we could be.”3
Maybe there is no magic to creating a happy and successful life, but applying these four lessons has been a big help for me:
- Immerse my focus on gratitude for what I have in the moment
- Keep my challenges in proper perspective
- Trust my inner-strength to handle whatever life deals me
- Live each day like nothing is missing
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