In my counseling of people who are about to go away to prison, I am often asked, “What should I bring with me?” I know the question is meant to ask about clothes, money, or books. My answer ignores their expectancy, and I respond with, “A positive attitude.” It’s a lesson I learned from reading Frankel’s Man’s Search For Meaning a 1946 book chronicling his experiences as a concentration camp inmate. I also learned this lesson when I went on my own sabbatical — in spades.
To learn that so much depends on our mental attitude makes the living hell of prison almost worthwhile. Notice I say almost. But if one learns this lesson it can make a wonderful change in one’s life. My wish is that most people don’t have to experience the suffering Frankel describes or most inmates experience to take to heart the miracle of a positive attitude.
A positive attitude even amongst the worst of circumstances allows us begin life afresh and determined to see the real meaning and spirit of things. Old habits of thought, fears, and inherited notions leave us. The road to health, freedom and happiness is before us.