Why A Holocaust Survivor & Navy SEAL Share The Same Mindset (Thoughts on COVID-19)

Light can come out of darkness.

The statement might seem odd.

But our world is facing a particularly troubling reality. The likes of which we have not seen in generations.

It is a dark reality.

However, if history is any indication, lightness will come out of the dark.

Viktor Frankl once wrote:

“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.”

Frankl is describing the light that occurred during one of the darkest periods of humanity – the Holocaust.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl outlined the notion that human beings can withstand the most brutal forms of darkness so long as they can imagine a brighter future.

The situation we face today is not the Holocaust. It is not human beings torturing and killing other human beings.

However, it is darkness, nonetheless.

It appears out of darkness, infinite wisdom can come.

Because there is another man, who has come face-to-face some of the darkest aspects of human nature.

His name is Jocko Willink.

He created a video entitled “GOOD.

More than ever, the video applies to our present conditions today.

The premise is this:

“When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that comes from it.”

Jocko addresses the reality:

If you can say the word “GOOD,” guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, well then hell, it means you got some fight left in you. So, get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reengage. And go out on the attack.”

Jocko is a light that has come out of the Iraq War.

Personal Perspective on COVID-19

Now, I’ve lived quite a sheltered life compared to the men highlighted above. These are two brilliant thinkers, who have been through some real shit.

I’m grateful for their ideas, because, in many ways, my philosophies have been shaped by them.

But nonetheless, two different friends have asked me…

What’s your take on this whole situation?

First off, it’s gratitude. It starts with gratitude. It always starts with gratitude, right? Grateful that I got the opportunity to go to sports games with them. Grateful that I got the opportunity to go to bars with them. Grateful that, at one point, we could enjoy each other’s company without a care in the world. Grateful for what appeared normal. Grateful they are safe, in this moment, because this moment is all there is.

Secondly, it’s that life will get better. As a society, we will find ways to adapt. And although it may not be easy, we will grow from this. We will take advantage of new technologies, we will figure out new ways of doing things, and we will become stronger.

This, I am absolutely sure of.

All we need to do is look at the past 20 years. Since 2000, the world has been shocked twice. First, 9/11. Second, the 2008 recession. If you are able to use these two as case studies, you can see that the world did in fact “revert back to normal.”

Who knows if the reality we live in past 2020 will be what we considered normal before, but we shall keep in mind that this, too, will pass.

At this moment, the world might appear dark.

If previous examples tell us anything, it’s that the darkness will eventually evaporate. And we will overcome.

But, now, more than ever, you can be a beacon of light.

You can be someone who spreads love, even if just for a second.

Because that second can bring someone joy for longer than we might be able to comprehend.

No story better illustrates that concept than this one:

The city of Leningrad was surrounded for 872 days by Germany during World War II. It caused extreme famine due to the loss of utilities, water, energy, and food supply.

During that time, a young girl went out to pick up her serving of bread.

After she picked it up, she fell on the slippery roads. Her bread dropped into the mud.

She wept.

Another woman walked up behind the young girl. The older woman picked the young girl up. She tore her own bread in half and gave the piece to the young girl.

Afterward, the young girl said that the older woman’s gesture gave her the spirit to continue on for the next year and a half.

This is why, always, it is important to be kind to our fellow human being.

Opportunities like today, where the world is going through pain, remind us how important it is to pick each other up when we fall.

Practical Ways To Become The Light

The question becomes…

How can you become that light?

Here are some tools that have helped me (that I go back to whenever I feel darkness creeping in):

  • Stop for a minute, twenty, or sixty. You can call it meditating if you want. Limit your inputs to connect you to all that there is. This has been the best way I’ve found to reset in these hectic times.
  • Go outside. Observe nature. If you stay inside all day, you’ll lose your mind. Smile at the diversity of all that was created before you were born and all there will be after you die.
  • Feel the presence of your neighbors outside. Give them a smile. Say hi. Saying hello to others connects us.
  • Understand routines might be broken. Smile at your old habits and help yourself create new ones. Maybe these will better serve you?
  • Reach out to friends and family you haven’t spoken to in a while. Especially your grandparents or older relatives. People are more isolated than ever before, but we don’t need to be more disconnected as well.
  • Offer to get groceries for your elderly neighbors. They might not be able to go to the supermarket. And they’ll appreciate it.
  • Remind yourself to smile at least three times per day. It’s been proven scientifically that smiling creates happiness. Which is weird. Try being unhappy while smiling. It’s more difficult than you think.
  • Stay active. I’ve never done home workouts for any significant amount of time until recently. It’s been nice to use this as a time to be productive, not to wallow.
  • Do a challenge. You can do 75HARD (there’s no better time) or create/make your own. Get some likeminded people and be accountable to each other. That way you’ll stay connected while moving yourself forward in some way.

Examples of Lightness in the Dark

You don’t need to search far or wide to find examples of lightness throughout the world in these dark times.

Here are some examples of it:

  • Woman Helps Elderly Couple Buy Groceries

Even though business is down 45% for The Curry Pizza Co., that didn’t stop owner Malhi Singer from sending pizzas to all health care workers for a week.

“We see all the (healthcare) industry working hard right now, and everybody else is sitting at home,” Singer said. “They don’t have a choice to sit home.”

  • Neighbors Open Windows, Cheer for Health Care Workers And Spread Music

In cities across the world, neighbors have opened their windows to communicate. Together, they spread music, joy, and appreciation for workers on the front lines.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk Looks to Donate Masks to Hospitals While Helping People Who Lost Jobs

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You don’t need to have money to be a light in this world.

You actually don’t need to have anything at all.

You simply need to open yourself to the possibility of holding love.

The rest will take care of itself.

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