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A Groundhog’s Search for Meaning

| January 30, 2021
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Rachel asked me this morning “Dad, what are you writing about this weekend?”  I told her I’m attempting to intertwine the work of an Austrian holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, with that of a 1993 silly (but great) movie about Ground Hog’s Day.  Rachel simply replied: “Good luck!”

If you are unfamiliar with Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, or even Frankl himself (https://www.viktorfrankl.org/biography.html), I highly recommend reading it.  In the work, Frankl discussed how he employed a retrospective technique when dealing with patients who were struggling with a decision.  He would say, “Imagine yourself looking back on yourself one or two years from now, and ask yourself, ‘What do I wish I had done?’”  He said the answer would become crystal clear to them.  I, myself, have begun using this same technique in my discovery process with new clients or when helping a client come to a decision, such as, “Should I retire now or not?”

The 1993 movie “Ground Hog Day” weaves the story of a cynical, self-absorbed weatherman (Bill Murray) who is stuck repeating the same day until, essentially, he becomes a better person.  (Ok, if you haven’t seen this movie you can check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GncQtURdcE4&feature=emb_logo)  The juxtaposition between what Frankl asks his patients to consider and what Bill Murray’s character experiences is, in my opinion, one of perspective and purpose. 

Frankl asked his patients to look at the present day from the perspective of their future selves.  On the other hand, Bill Murray’s character is too self-centered to consider how his actions would influence the future.  Therefore, he is forced to relive one day, over and over, until he is able to gain a better perspective of his actions as well as his purpose.

Unlike Bill Murray’s character, we do not have the luxury (or curse) of reliving today until we get it right.  However, the pandemic’s change of pace provides us an opportunity to pause and consider the effect today’s choices will have on our future selves.  We won’t ever fully know if decisions made today are correct or not.  But if we follow Frankl’s technique, the perspective we gain should help guide us today and provide a greater sense of confidence for tomorrow.

Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well.  If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email.  If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them. 

As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy! 

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