Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

The Perfect Joy of Surrender

April 19, 2014

black-and-white-surrender-to-godThis well-known story from The Little Flowers of St. Francis often elicits the reaction, “Whoa. Harsh!” Indeed, at first blush this narrative may seem counterintuitive and even nonsensical. But after some thought, profound insights often emerge.

St. Francis may be focused on Christ in this story, but I take a broader view that transcends any particular religious path or figure. I see it as an extreme but powerful lesson in the value of surrender. In the peace and beauty of unconditional surrender, suffering ceases to be suffering and instead becomes a gateway to transcendence.

Surrender is like an onion; you can keep peeling away layer after layer even when you think you have reached your goal. It is only when everything has been taken from you—materially, physically, mentally, emotionally—that you truly find out the depth of your surrender to God. If, as in St. Francis’ story, when there is nothing left for you to surrender except your final breath, yet you are able to hold on to the ever-new joy of Divine communion and genuinely express gratitude for whatever God is giving you (or taking away), then will you truly know the ultimate power and purity of surrender.


"The Stigmata of St. Francis." a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris

“The Stigmata of St. Francis.” a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: “Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to (more…)

My Video Interview With Dr. Paul Wong on Meaning and Purpose

June 12, 2012

Dr. Paul Wong

Dr. Paul Wong
is a Psychology professor, Clinical Psychologist, author, speaker and justice fighter. His greatest happiness is to bring happiness to those who are suffering. He is the founder of the International Network on Personal Meaning, the Meaning-Centered Counselling Institute and the International Society for Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy.

You can subscribe to Dr. Wong’s Positive Living Newsletter for information regarding Meaning Conferences and other INPM events as well as for words of wisdom and inspiration on positive living. Click here to subscribe to this free monthly newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the sign-up form).

Dr. Wong’s blog, Total Fitness and Practical Spirituality, explores various issues related to spirituality and health. More specifically, it examines the potentials of total health benefits of translating Christian spiritual principles into physical exercises and daily activiies.

You can find Paul on Facebook here and on Twitter here. View videos on Dr. Wong’s YouTube channel, Personal Meaning, by clicking here.


Paul, I’d like to focus today on the International Meaning Conference on July 26-29 in Toronto. This is the seventh such conference, which is held every two years. It’s sponsored by INPM, the International Network on Personal Meaning. (Click here for the conference website.)

First of all, can you tell us when the INPM was founded, why it was founded, and what its mission is?
INPM was founded in 1998. The mission is to advance the vision and mission of Viktor Frankl, which is healing through meaning. Everybody has to have meaning and purpose in their lives, so I think that is a worthy cause. Now we added the word “flourishing,” so  the mission is healing and flourishing through meaning. We want to not only provide a cure for human problems but also offer hope for human flourishing.

Why is this upcoming conference worthy of people’s attention?
Because this is one of a kind. It is the only international conference focusing on meaning. The second unique thing about this conference is that (more…)

The World is Meant to Be Worn Lightly

March 30, 2012

If you accepted the truth of the following statements by Dr. David R. Hawkins, how would your life change? What would be different about the way you looked at the world, at other people, and at yourself?

The world is actually entertainment. Like amusement, it is meant to be worn lightly. Heaven is (more…)

Viktor Frankl Defines Despair

February 27, 2012


Dr. Viktor Frankl

In this three-part interview, Dr. Viktor Frankl explains many of the key concepts in his groundbreaking book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

In his book and in this video, Frankl explains that concentration camp prisoners whose minds were fixated on an all-consuming reason to live—reuniting with loved ones, completing unfinished work, alerting the world to atrocities—were most apt to survive.

I particularly like the way Frankl defines despair, which he said can be expressed via a mathematical formula:

D = S – W

What does it (more…)

From Rubbish to Rubies

February 12, 2012


After being handed the Grammy tonight for Album of the Year, Adele, who ended up with six Grammys on the night, said:

This record is inspired by something that is really no more, and everyone’s been through it: a rubbish relationship.

Adele’s trash-to-treasure turnaround may be more dramatic than yours or mine, but there’s a valuable lesson embedded in her words that apply to everyone. All of us can look back at any kind of painful loss and see now that (more…)

Jin and Jorg

February 5, 2012


Today, the third day of a three-day seminar entitled “The Language of Impact,” in Los Angeles, I saw two of the one hundred twenty attendees talking to each other during a break. I walked up to Jin Robertson and Jorg Winterlach and said, “Excuse me, I just want to say that you both are amazing. You inspire me.” As the three of us talked for the next few minutes, I was thinking how incredible it was that our lives—Jin lives in South Korea, Jorg lives in Germany, and I live in California—had intersected at that moment in time.

Dr. Jin Kyu Robertson

Jin had come to America at age twenty-two in response to a South Korean newspaper ad looking for a housemaid. She had a one-way ticket, a hundred dollars, and very little English. Six years later, to escape her husband’s abuse, she entered the U.S. Army, where she rose to a rank of Major. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in International Relations History from Harvard. Her daughter followed in her footsteps, earning a Harvard degree and then entering the U.S. Army; she is now a Major serving in Pakistan. Jin is now Korea’s most popular motivational speaker, and her book, Major Dream: From Immigrant Housemaid to Harvard Ph.D., has sold more than half a million copies and prevented numerous suicides in Korea.

Jorg Winterlach

Jorg grew up in East Berlin under communism, forced to (more…)

The Name of the Boat

January 31, 2012

Are you having trouble reconciling past experiences in which you either behaved poorly or others behaved poorly toward you? Are you weighed down with so much guilt, regret, anger or emotional pain that you’re having trouble moving on with your life? If so, this simple exercise may help.

Close your eyes and replay the incident in your mind, except this time watch it as an objective observer. While you watch events unfolding, bathe everyone involved as well as the situation itself in love, as if you were a parent sending unconditional love to your child.

If sending love to someone or something so hurtful is difficult for you, know this: You cannot (more…)

It Is God’s Kindness to Terrify You

October 21, 2011

The moment you recognize the blessings inherent in your suffering, the greater your capacity to transcend your anguish, even as grief and pain threaten to consume you.

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.
Leigh Hunt

No matter how lost, scared, vulnerable, or powerless you feel, you can treat this very moment as a portal to peace, wisdom, and healing.

This place where you are right now, God (more…)

Do Not Wax Indignant

October 19, 2011

When you live inauthentically, when you do not heed the urgings of your heart, when you live somebody else’s idea of what your life should be, the unavoidable clash between your true self and the life that you lead cannot help but wreak havoc on your physical health.

When one is pretending, the entire body revolts.
Anaïs Nin

Gaining clarity about the emotional root of an illness, and tending to it as well as to your physical symptoms, often accelerates healing.

You can’t recover from (more…)

Weep With Your Whole Heart

October 16, 2011

Suffering cannot be compartmentalized. Refuse to deal with your pain and you poison every aspect of your life.

When you deny emotional pain, everything you do or think as well as your relationships become contaminated with it. You broadcast it, so to speak, as the energy you emanate, and others will pick it up subliminally.
Eckhart Tolle

Ignore your suffering, numb it with distractions and addictions, and the sentry (more…)

As the Rose of the Soul Unfoldeth

October 13, 2011

Nobly enduring suffering bestows wisdom; and wisdom provides insight into the value and the necessity of suffering.

God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Conversely, drowning in self-pity defeats the purpose of your suffering and brings (more…)

Do Not Surrender Your Grief So Quickly

October 12, 2011

When life deals you a particularly heavy blow, allow the energy of your suffering to descend upon you, to seep into your emotional pores as surely as water overtakes a sponge, for suffering is as purposeful as it is unstoppable.

That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.
Rainer Maria Rilke

When your suffering has washed (more…)

The Intuitive Art of Wooing Nature

September 28, 2011

Fighting your suffering disrupts the flow of life. Surrender to your suffering and the gates of understanding swing open.

Suffering is magnificent music—the moment you give ear to it. But you never listen to it: you always have a different, private, stubborn music and melody in your ear which you will not relinquish and with which the music of suffering will not harmonize.
Hermann Hesse

No matter how deeply you are wounded, there are great (more…)

Suffering Leads to Empathy

September 21, 2011

None of us can escape suffering. Yet the moment you embrace your vulnerability, you widen your vision and expand your awareness of the entire spectrum of human experience.

Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you, no humility, no compassion.
Eckhart Tolle

In this way, suffering forces you to humbly acknowledge that (more…)

The Other Side of Pain

September 20, 2011

No two people suffer alike or for the same reasons. What causes heartbreak in one person may spur nothing but wistfulness and gratitude in another.

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.
Mark Twain

View suffering as an enemy and you distance yourself from the (more…)

No Winter Lasts Forever

September 19, 2011

The moment you recognize the blessings inherent in your suffering, the greater your capacity to transcend your anguish, even as grief and pain threaten to consume you.

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.
Leigh Hunt

As inspirational author and speaker Andy Andrews humorously (more…)