In the 30-day online course called: Calming the Storm: How Discovering Meaning Can Change Your Life, each day for 3 minutes or less, you are given a story, the lesson offered by the story and a specific action that you can take to help you to discover your meaning and purpose. Stories are offered that are personal stories, or stories about others such as Viktor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, Beethoven, Helen Keller, Jack Kerouac, James Hillman, Helen Martins, The Buddha, Temple Grandin, Tara Brach, Carl Rogers, a Taoist Story, an Indian Fable, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, a story from Logotherapy and Jerry Long. Below are some short extracts from each day and story.
Day 1 – “This too shall pass” – Personal Story – “I looked around at what was left of my married life. The empty room echoed as I absorbed the end of a relationship, the end of a home and the chaos around me.”
Day 2 – Finding Something to Live for is Critical – Nelson Mandela – After 27 years in prison, he emerged from these trials to lead South Africa to Democracy. Many call him the Father of the Nation – Madiba or Tata. Listen to a sample audio below:
Day 3 – The Question of Meaning in Life – Viktor Frankl – There were those who walked upright into the gas chambers, with a prayer on their lips. Viktor Frankl talks about how spiritual life can deepen, even in a concentration camp.
Day 4 – Love Can Come to the Rescue – Viktor Frankl – Stumbling through darkness and over icy stones and other obstacles in the cold and the unseen, everything was hushed except for the shouting of guards, a person marching beside me whispered quietly behind his hand: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”
Day 5 – Putting your Focus on a Project – Viktor Frankl – He saw himself on a lecture platform of the future, in warm and pleasant conditions, his audience focusing on his every word.
Day 6 – The Power of your Mind-set – Beethoven – At the age of 26, Beethoven began to go deaf. Viktor Frankl says that: “The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life.”
Day 7 – Finding Meaning from Suffering – Helen Keller – Helen Keller once said: “all the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”
Day 8 – Turn Suffering into a Challenge – Viktor Frankl – The guard looked at him, stripped as he was of all that identified him, his clothes, his shoes, his name and now his manuscript. The guard tore up the manuscript and called it “rubbish!” This manuscript contained Frankl’s life work. He had hoped to save it at any cost…
Day 9 – Is Fear Holding You Back from your Calling? – Defending Your Life – In a 1991 movie called Defending your Life, the protagonist Dan Miller, has a defense attorney named Bob Diamond, who confronts him with his own fear. Diamond says: “…Fear is like a giant fog, it sits on your brain and blocks everything. Real feeling, true happiness, real joy can’t get through that fog but you lift it and buddy, you’re in for the ride of your life.”
Day 10 – Learning Self-Compassion – Personal Story – Standing amongst my boxes and the chaos of the end of my married life, one of the things I did was to blame myself. In my pain and sadness I thought: “…why have I failed; why have I allowed this to happen? It was my fault, surely? I was supposed to be able to fix things…”
Day 11 – Suffering Can be an Inspiration – Viktor Frankl – Trying to inspire other inmates held captive with him in the Nazi concentration camps during the WWII, Frankl encouraged them to think of themselves as being watched. He called on them to imagine themselves as surrounded by a crowd of witnesses, who looked on at them in their times of difficulty: a friend, a spouse, someone living or dead, God, a protective being. Frankl called on them not to disappoint these deeply concerned and caring people or beings.
Day 12 – Appreciating Life Right Now – Personal Story – I walked up the hill towards the guest house, crying, I felt bereft, having said goodbye to someone I love, not knowing if I would see him again. For some reason, this goodbye wrenched at my gut and squeezed my heart most painfully. This painful fleeting moment was a precursor of what was to come.
Day 13 – Your Watershed Moment – Personal Story – Sitting in the tiny space my daughter called a “cupboard”, waiting for the sale of my home to go through and the funds to be released; I saw in a flash that my life would need to change even more radically. In this watershed moment, I realized that I would like to work with folks who have experienced trauma and who are struggling to make their now changed lives meaningful.
Day 14 – We are Whole As We Are. We Are All Right – Jack Kerouac – “I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree on a cold winter day. It said that in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever…:
Day 15 – The Call that Beckons us to Find our Destiny – James Hillman – According to James Hillman, one of the greatest mysteries of human nature is the question of character and destiny. In his bestseller The Soul’s Code, he proposed that our calling in life is inborn and that it’s our mission in life to realize its imperatives.
Day 16 – Filling Our Unique Life Space – Helen Martins – Helen Martins was an outsider artist, someone who has had no training in the arts and lived in a small dry Karoo town, in the heart of the arid region of South Africa. Her life was stuck in darkness and as the youngest of ten children; she was neglected by her father and a mother who became confined to bed.
Day 17 – What is your Choice of Response? – A story about the Buddha – A surly young man one day shouted at the Buddha, “Go away! You just want to take advantage of us! You, teachers, come here to say a few pretty words and then ask for food and money!”
Day 18 – Finding Something to Live For – Temple Grandin – Temple was born autistic. She created a “hug box” to help her cope with her fear and anxiety. Whenever she felt scared, Temple would go on all fours inside her “hug box”.
Day 19 – Life Questions & Light in the Darkness – Viktor Frankl – “I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious ‘Yes’ in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose.”
Day 20 – The Experience of Love – “The Salvation of Man” – Viktor Frankl – While hacking at the icy ground, Viktor Frankl was thinking about his wife and the love that he felt for her. Even though she was not present and Viktor did not even know if she was still alive, his love for her sustained him.
Day 21 – Are you Your Own Best Friend? – Tara Brach; Carl Rogers – Through the realization of her profound sadness at not being kind to herself, Tara Brach developed the idea of radical self-acceptance. Carl Rogers wrote: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Day 22 – Is it Ever OK to Give up Hope? – Viktor Frankl – “I’m responsible for living from now on in a way that I may make use of the slightest chance of survival, ignoring the great danger surrounding me…”
Day 23 – Going with the Flow – Taoist Story – A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life.
Day 24 – Good News! You do not have the heart of a mouse – Indian fable – According to an ancient Indian fable, a mouse was in constant distress because of its fear of the cat.
Day 25 – It’s Time for Self-Transcendence – Henry Ford; Thomas Edison; Beethoven and Albert Einstein. Some stories.
Day 26 – Igniting Humor – Viktor Frankl – A prisoner accidentally bumps into a Nazi guard. The guard turns and shouts, “Schwein!” (which means “pig” in German). The prisoner bows and says, “Cohen. Pleased to meet you.”
Day 27 – Access a Power that is Uniquely Human – Viktor Frankl – In the words of Viktor Frankl “For what … counts and matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a tragedy into a personal triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.”
Day 28 – Relieve your Loved Ones from Suffering – Viktor Frankl – An elderly, depressed patient who could not overcome the loss of his wife was helped by the following conversation with Frankl. Frankl asked: “What would have happened if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you.”
Day 29 – Do the One Thing that you Know in your Heart is Right – Logotherapy meaning-based intervention and PTSD – In an article about the use of a meaning-based intervention (Logotherapy) to treat chronic Combat-related PTSD, the authors offer a case study of a post-traumatic stress disorder sufferer who had a sense of doom, of no future.
Day 30 – “I Broke my Neck, It Didn’t Break Me” – Jerry Long – The story of Jerry Long is told. Jerry “was a teenage baseball player whose pitching had the attention of the professional leagues. Then he broke his neck and became physically dependent on others for his most basic activities of daily living.”