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The Pursuit of Happiness

February 7, 2023

Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist who endured great pain and tragedy throughout his life. 

During World War II, Frankl was taken from his home in Austria, pulled away from his job, separated from his family, persecuted for who he was, and endured deep pain as he watched people die all around him. Yet, he is famous for making this statement:

“The last of the human freedoms [is] to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Frankl knew what it felt like to be without freedom, but he claimed that even in the most dire circumstances, we have the power to choose our attitudes.

Frankl is correct. We can determine our attitudes. But, remember, it is a choice.

For those Americans reading this blog, our Declaration of Independence includes it as it outlines one of our inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The right to life and liberty are easy for us to understand, but the third is more difficult. Pursuit of Happiness. Here’s why this is more challenging: Pursuing happiness is not contingent on our circumstances. It all depends on our attitude. This poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox illustrates this point perfectly.


One ship drives east and another drives west

With the self-same winds that blow;

   ‘Tis the set of the sails

   And not the gales

That tells them the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate

As we voyage along through life;

   ‘Tis the set of the soul

   That decides its goal

And not the calm or the strife.

“‘Tis the set of the soul, That decides its goal, And not the calm or the strife.” 

Attitude. Pursuit of happiness. Making a choice. In each of our lives, we are sure to experience seasons of joy and also seasons of heartache. There will be seasons of calm and seasons of strife. We can’t control when these times will come, but we can control how we respond to them.

Today, embrace the freedom you have to choose your attitude and pursue happiness, regardless of your circumstances or situation.


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