On September 25, 1942, Viktor Frankl, along with his wife and parents were shipped to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in what is today the Czech Republic. The Nazis allowed him to function as a doctor for a while, utilizing is psychiatric training to help prevent suicides among his fellow prisoners. In 1944 he was shipped to Auschwitz, then to Turkeim Concentration Camp. His wife was shipped to Bergen-Belsen, where she was killed. His parents ended up in Auschwitz and were killed there.
Along with his own incredible suffering and loss, Frankl observed the misery and pain of his fellow concentration camp prisoners. In order to give his life meaning, he began to develop a series of lectures he planned to give after the war and his release on how different people coped with the severity of their physical and psychological conditions. It was his sense of purpose in the future that enabled him to live in hope in the midst of inhuman suffering.
Some people merely survived. Others gave up all hope and died. There were a few, however, that maintained a sense of hope about the future and it was these few that caught Frankl's attention. What he observed about these people led him, eventually, to write a book claiming that humans have been endowed by God with an amazing power, the power to choose. In his book, Man's Search for Meaning , he observed:
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof 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, to choose one's own way."
You have certainly heard the saying, "mind over matter." Generally, when this saying is used, it is referring to the mind's capability to change or influence various parts of the human body. While much is still left to learn about the mind's ability to influence sickness and health, it is certain that the mind has power to determine it's own happiness. You have the power to choose. If people in concentration camps can choose to be caring, loving, hopeful, and generous, then we who live in the most prosperous and blessed nation in the history of humanity can choose to be positive and happy.
The problem is that so many people are not happy. We have all our basic needs met, abundantly, but we tend to be dissatisfied and wanting more. Some speculate that our prosperity is actually a detriment to happiness because when you live in a place where very hard work is required to just survive physically, your energy and effort is expended on survival and you have little time or energy left to reflect much on your condition. The mind that is fully occupied tends to be happier. Once you have a society that is prosperous and pampered as ours is and people have so much disposable income and extra time on their hands, they begin to think about what it is they don't have and start wanting more and more, growing increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated.
God definitely wants us to be happy. The question is, do I want to make the changes, in my thought-processes that will help me experience the happiness God desires for me? The Bible teaches us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." God calls us to renew our minds by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. God's joy is a present and possible reality for each person alive if we will only allow ourselves to experience it by choosing to think more hopeful, blessed thoughts and adopt a more positive mindset. We have the power to choose. Our minds are amazingly capable of altering our reality and our feelings about our reality.