As you know, if you’ve been with us long enough, my spirit guides often talk about finding meaning in life through joy. In fact it’s one of their major “themes.” They often advise us to look for the joy in all our experiences, even the tough ones — especially the tough ones.

Now and then I get angry objections from some of our newsletter and blog readers. They usually go something like this: “How can I possibly find joy or meaning in this experience (death in the family, terminal illness, no home, not enough money, miserable marriage, etc.)?

One of our blog readers commented on a recent post. She was objecting to at least part of what we said in that post, specifically this part:

“When you go on vacation, are you anxious to reach your final destination? We don’t think so, because you started out from home and your final destination is to return home again. The point of the vacation is to enjoy the journey and forget about your destination. If you’re constantly obsessing about going back home again, you miss the joy of the journey.”

Here are the reader’s comments:

“You know, all this stuff about going on vacation seems a tad disingenuous to me.

“Want to tell folks who have no place to live it’s just like taking a vacation — enjoy the trip and never mind the destination? Want to tell folks who have no food to eat it’s just like your last vacation….did you enjoy the change of scenery or worry about the trip home?

“All well and good guys — the unfortunate folks probably have no access to the net anyway to read your secrets to manifestation. But as someone who reads this stuff and has work [sic] a lifetime as a social worker with folks who need real answers that give hope and a fair timeline [sic], all this warm fuzzy ‘do your self love work’ is really hard to swallow.

“Fairly hard to love yourself when kids are crying and you’re desperate and hopeless in my experience. A compassionate shoulder and attempts to help are what’s needed.”

I agree with her — compassion and willingness to help are essential in situations like she describes. But is teaching self-love inconsistent with that? I don’t think so.

Many years ago I did work similar to what our reader does. I know my clients could have used some of that “warm fuzzy…self love work.” Perhaps even more so than other more fortunate folks.

All this reminds me of Austrian medical doctor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. Being Jewish, Dr. Frankl was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Here he talks about how he took care of himself and ultimately survived:

“The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, ‘The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….'”

What are your thoughts? Is it possible to find joy and meaning in even the most horrid circumstances (as Victor Frankl did)? Or is it an impossible dream? Please comment below.

John Cali’s Spirit Speaks Newsletter