CHOOSING HOPE: Overcoming Despair
Jerry L. Haynes, Bringing Hope And Happiness
About 20 years ago I began my passionate quest to Bring Hope and Happiness to Others. Over the years, I’ve done this in several different ways. The project I’m working on now is my most exciting by far Although I’ve written novels and self-help books before, this one will be different. It will be called The Haynes Hierarchy of Hope and Happiness. In it I will first strive to help the reader decide upon their definition of Hope and Happiness, and to decide where they fall in my 5 levels.
Then I hope to provide the reader with the tools to continue moving into higher levels of happiness.
The first level I show is Hope. For those in this level happiness is often fleeting. It can be found in moments of relaxation with the family, or an occasional vacation. But their life usually consists of trying to figure out which bill to let go unpaid until next month, so they can get their vehicle with 200,000 miles on it repaired so they can drive to work at a job they hate. They take advances and max out credit cards so they don’t go 3 months behind on their home mortgage. Usually the person is receiving some type of assistance, which in itself has been shown to be a deterrent to happiness. Usually those at this level are at the Federal Poverty Level as defined by the Department of Health & Human Resources.
But below this initial level, I show what I call Despair. Those in this category don’t have cars with 200,000 miles on them, they have no car at all. They don’t worry about the mortgage, because they have no home to call their own. There are no vacations, and no supporting family or friends to socialize with. They, more often than not, have either a serious addiction, or a severe psychological problem. I wanted to believe that if, this group could just stay within grasping distance of “HOPE”, they could also eventually increase their happiness. But I seriously doubted if I could ever help this group.
While at my favorite research location, Barnes & Noble, I came across an article about a fascinating woman. The article referred to a book she had just released. I immediately purchased The Choice; Embrace the Possible, and before I had even finished it, I took a rash step. I contacted the author in her La Jolla, California office, and requested a 30 minute interview with her. To my surprise, she granted me one. So in April, 2018, I found myself on a plane to San Diego to interview Dr. Edith Eva Eger.
Edie Elefant was born in Hungary in 1926 to an affluent family. Her sister was an accomplished violinist. Edie was a gifted ballet dancer and gymnast with hopes of competing for Hungary in the 1940 Olympics. But Edie was born a Jew, and instead of the Olympics, in 1944, she found herself, along with her sister and parents, entering the gates of Auschwitz. While she was forced to dance to entertain the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele, her parents were executed. Edie and her sister survived Auschwitz, just to be sent on the death march to Gundskirchen Lager. They were part of the 10% that survived. By the time American soldiers liberated the camp on May 4, 1945, Edie and her sister lay among the pile of corpses. Her sister had just enough strength to catch a soldier’s attention by flashing an empty sardine can at him. They were pulled from the corpses. Edie had five different types of typhoid fever, pneumonia, a broken back, and was bald.
She thought back to the words her mother shared with her on the way to Auschwitz.
“We don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what’s going to happen.
Just remember, no one can take away from you what you put here in your own mind.”
Edie Elefant realized she had choices.
She could will herself to die. After all, why should she live, when so many others had not?
She could fight to live, and then live a life of bitterness, hating with every breath she took the Nazi demons that had done this to her.
But instead, she chose to find hope. To embrace the possible.
Edie married to become Edie Eger and came to the USA. Over the next 30 years she would go on to get a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s Degree and a Ph. D. in Psychology. At the time I interviewed her, she still operates her practice and specializes in working with soldiers with PTSD. At the age of 93!
So my skepticism was expunged. This remarkable lady had gone through 2 years of unbelievable hell, without ever giving up hope. Not only did she choose to find hope, but she would also rise to the highest point of my hierarchy, The Pinnacle of Fulfillment. Surely others, if given the inspiration, the support, to just stay within grasping distance of the life rope of hope, then they too can be pulled from a sea of despair.
Thank you Dr. Edith Eva Eger for giving me the inspiration to continue my book, and hopefully help others rise from despair to find everlasting and limitless happiness.
I encourage you to watch my entire interview with Dr Edie Eger below.
Please reply and let me know your story of escaping despair by grabbing onto hope.
Dr. Eger Interview