There’s a scene in the movie “Apollo 13” that happened in real life when the spacecraft appeared to be
coming apart at the seams. The system controllers in Houston were shouting out one failure after
another in rapid succession. Finally, realizing terrible damage was done to the ship from the long list of
failures, the flight director, Gene Kranz famously said to his engineers, “what do we have that works?”
Solving and surviving problems is not done by obsessing over disappointments. A mental health
technique, sometimes referred to as “reframing,” was practiced by people long before it was written up in psychological journals. The “old timers” simply called it “looking on the bright side.”
Victor Frankl lived through Auschwitz in Nazi Germany. Few human experiences have been worse. He
later wrote the ultimate reframing book. In the book he described the “secrets” he came to find. One
of those secrets is that we all have the power to choose to be happy, regardless of the circumstances!
He told of walking down a muddy, icy road before daybreak in a work detail. They were starving,
freezing, dying. Tripping over rocks in the dark. Gripping one another for strength. One prisoner said
loudly, “if our wives could see us now.” Frankl then described in detail the joy he found in himself as he
began to savor every memory of his dear wife! He summoned her smell, her hair, her hands, her smile
to his mind. The Germans could not take away the happiness inside of him by what they did to the
outside of him.
Some people on the last day of a great week of vacation are curiously in misery about having to go back to work! Rather than choosing to reflect on the wonderful week, (and a good job that made it possible to be there!) they choose to dwell on regret and so are miserable while still on vacation!
I have been with folks who were all alone in life, having outlived spouses and children. Rather than
wallow in sorrow they told joy-filled stories of love and life. They laughed while retelling the joys they
had experienced long ago and, not surprisingly, they continued to find simple joys in their lives now!
Some children (and adults) always want more but are never, ever, really happy with however much they may have!! Yet others seem to be truly thankful for everything they have and whatever is done for
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Ths. 5:16-18)
To give thanks you must be thankful.
- Tim Orbison