By: Ben S. Fogel
If you were living today a second time, what would you do differently?
This was a question I was reminded about recently when working on some continuing education and reading Donald Miller’s “Business Made Simple” book. He was referencing Viktor E. Frankl’s landmark book “Man’s Search For Meaning” and using this question above as a daily question to reflect on – which is part of the power of what Frankl coined as “Logotherapy.”
Logotherapy is a school of psychology and a philosophy based on the idea that we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely (i.e. meaningfully) to life’s challenges. Frankl used this reflective question in many ways, mainly to help people become fully aware of their own “responsibleness” and here is a quote from the book:
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
He goes on to say, “It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man’s sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended. Such a precept confronts him with life’s finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both his life and himself.”
If you can, read that quote above again. Let it sink in. This simple, yet effective exercise can allow you to literally jump from the present to the past (in your own mind) and have the power to change the past by the conscious thoughts and awareness you bring into your life to each day. Donald Miller uses this question every morning as a journaling exercise, and I started to use it over the past 30 days with some pretty amazing success and that is why I wanted to share it with you!
So, let’s think about this. If you were able to start your day in a position of reflection – actual reflection of the past that has not occurred yet – and then had the opportunity to “course correct” anything that you could already foresee occurring in that day ahead, wouldn’t you find that a pretty powerful exercise to do? To literally jump into your subconscious mind and give it powerful instructions for how you will live your life differently today based on being your “best self.”
This one exercise could literally be a game-changer for all of us! It has already been for me, and I want to share an example from my own life below.
Question: If I were living today a second time, what would I do differently?
I would be more present with my family
I would stay focused on every task at hand, and be free of distractions
I would listen more deeply and reflect back more to the people I have conversations with