The Human Superpower
In a recent podcast interview I suggested that, “the human superpower is the ability to choose the meaning we give to our circumstances.” Two individuals may confront the same exact situation and have a totally different reaction to it. One interpretation can be empowering and the other totally disempowering. Our ability to choose how we respond to our circumstances is the most important capacity we have and will massively impact the results we get in life.
There is no better example than the stories of Victor Frankl and Edith Eger, two Holocaust survivors who have written about their unimaginable ordeals. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl recounts the horror of his treatment at the hands of Nazi guards at the Auschwitz death camp, “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 way.”
Eger was also imprisoned at Auschwitz. Years after the war, just before turning forty, she was given a copy of Frankl’s book to read while she was studying to get her undergraduate degree in psychology. That night she read the book and realized something that would change her life forever. In her book The Choice, Eger writes: “Each moment is a choice. No matter how frustrating or boring or constraining or painful or oppressive our experience, we can always choose how we respond. And I finally begin to understand that I, too, have a choice. This realization will change my life.” Frankl became Eger’s mentor and good friend. She went on to confront her pain and heal the trauma that had been haunting her ever since she was liberated from Auschwitz. She received her Ph.D. at age 51, and has become a renowned author, therapist, and speaker, writing The Choice at age 90.
Take a look at your own life right now. Where are you facing a challenge that you are allowing to hold you back? How can you use the human superpower to choose a different, more empowering meaning? If you want to master your code and lead an extraordinary life, you must cultivate and use the superpower of choice.