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Prisoners of Our Thoughts


Prisoners of Our Thoughts
Viktor Frankl's Principles at Work
by Alex Pattakos
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004

"No matter what our specific job might be, it is the work we do that represents who we are," writes Alex Pattakos as he explains what it means to work with meaning.

"When we meet our work with enthusiasm, appreciation, generosity, and integrity, we meet it with meaning. And no matter how mundane a job might seem at the time, we can transform it with meaning."

Applying psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's "logotherapy" approach to finding personal meaning to the corporate workplace, Pattakos aims to demonstrate that through meaningful interactions and good works one can find purpose in a less than purposeful environment. If Frankl was able to find real meaning while being held captive in a Nazi concentration camp, it must be possible to do the same while working for a multinational.

"The transformation of work in the 21st century is, in many respects, a call for humanity -- a new consciousness that suggests more than simply trying to strike a balance between our work and our personal life. It is a call to honor our own individuality and fully engage our human spirit at work -- wherever that may be," he explains.

Pattakos' 11 chapter-length lessons end with a directed meditation, or "Meaning Moment" and an item "For Further Reflection," like this one in chapter one:

"Ask yourself honestly, are you a "prisoner of your thoughts?" Do you hold other people, including co-workers, "prisoners of your thoughts?"

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Seven Principles

1. Exercise the freedom to choose your attitude
     In all sitiations, no matter how desperate they may appear or actually be, you always have thye utlimate freedom to choose your attitude.

2. Realizie Your Will to Meaning
     Commit authentically to meaningful values and goals that only you can actualize and fulfill.

3. Detect the Meaning of Life'sMoments
     Only you can answer for your own life by detecting the meaning of any given moment and assuming responsibility for weaving you unique tapestry of existence.

4. Don't Work Against Yourself
     ItAvoid becoming so obsessed with or fixated on an intent or outcome that you actually work against the desired result.

5. Look at Yourself From a Distance
     Only human beings possess the capacity to look at themselves out of some perspective or distance, including the human trait known as your "sense of humor.".

6. Shift Your Focus of Attention
     Deflect your attention from a problem situation to something else and build your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and change.

7. Extend Beyond Yourself
     Manifest the human spirit at work by relating and being direct to something more than yourself.


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