Tragedy and happiness appear to be incompatible and mutually exclusive — on the surface, at least. But in reality, tragedy can actually break you open, allowing you to grow and live more meaningfully. By wholeheartedly embracing grief and learning to move beyond it, you may actually rediscover a greater sense of purpose and live happier than you did before.
On this week’s episode of the podcast “Life After Suicide,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton and her guests Vic Strecher and Dan Harris talk about finding a purpose in order to not only overcome trauma but also discover a more fulfilled life after a loss.
When Strecher lost his daughter, Julia, to a rare heart disease, he felt as though his world had ended. He gradually came to realize that in order to move past loss, the only thing that needed to end was his previous worldview. He called this “being broken open…getting real.”
Strecher, the author of the book “Life on Purpose,” explained the ways in which he reframed his trauma as a sort of reality check. Losing his daughter pushed him to see beyond his ego, he said, referring to it as his “psychological immune system.”
Julia’s death forced him to reflect on what mattered most to him, he said. Calling the process “transcendence,” he said it allowed him to start building a sense of purpose and to reclaim his own happiness.
Strecher said that he hopes to use his own experiences to teach others that happiness does not negate the pain of loss or the memory of a loved one. Happiness, he said, is a “side effect of having a purpose.”
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