By: Joshua Browne, M.P.S.
A Profound Feeling of Gratitude and Joy
Recently, while reading a book entitled, “Prisoners of our Thoughts” by Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon (2017), I was suddenly struck with a profound sense of gratitude for the beauty of the authors’ creation. The expertly crafted ideas expressing the profound truths, originating from Pattakos’ and Dundon’s (2017) operationalization of Viktor Frankl’s (1984) philosophies contained in the classic book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” penetrated my soul, infusing it with love and gratitude for both Pattakos’ (2017) and Frankl’s (1984) desire to encourage and elevate others. As I connected with the profound principles contained in this book, I was inspired, enlightened, and certain the same spirit that encouraged these two elegant books was living inside of me. These authors had successfully communicated their genuine yearning to lift others. In a moment, I knew I was forever changed, as the desire to follow their example of leading with encouragement by teaching meaningful principles, connected with me and invited me to perpetuate the distribution of these gifts of insight and wisdom. Is there any greater pursuit than to assist others to connect with meaning and identify the purpose of their lives?
The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude can be likened to cool water: refreshing, invigorating, replenishing and ultimately, life sustaining. Just as water is essential to human existence, gratitude remains a vital component of a fulfilling life, infusing it with purpose and meaning. In fact, I assert it is the primary precursor to happiness, joy, meaning and purpose, and there is a mountain of scientific (Achor, 2010), anecdotal, and self-evident evidence supporting this notion. A grateful person encourages us with their resilient and ubiquitous presence, freely sharing their knowledge, insights, and positive emotional energy. As their gratitude sustains them, it ripples outward, unable to be contained within. It yearns to be shared, to be promulgated and enlarged.
Viktor Frankl (1984) credited the cultivation of gratitude as a critical catalyst of his sustenance. While he could not control his physical circumstances, he could choose to maintain mastery of his attitude, and he chose gratitude. He elected to analyze his predicament in the context of the meaning that could be identified therein. Because of his resolve to nurture gratitude, he triumphed over the physical world, growing into a spiritual giant, with insights firmly imprinted on his soul. Due to his perseverance, fueled by gratitude, he survived his brutal incarceration inside the network of Nazi concentration camps, emerging with meaning emanating from his soul, or as Pattakos (2017) defined it, “resonance with [his] true nature.” Frankl’s (1984) globally influential book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” was created out of this incubator of gratitude.
Purpose Driving Behavior
Gratitude facilitates engagement with meaning, allowing purpose to naturally develop and drive our behavior (Emmons & McCullough, 2003, Achor, 2010). A person fortified with purpose becomes a formidable advocate for a cause greater than themselves, pursuing their life mission with gratitude, perseverance and faith, assured their efforts will be meaningful to those they serve. The insight Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1989) credited to Frankl that “life is a mission, not a career,” illustrates this profound principle. We recognize this drive in ourselves when we are moving consistent with our true natures, and we often behold others with amazement, as purpose radiates from their wonderous accomplishments.
A Tribute to Leading with Encouragement
Returning to the catalyst for this article, as I contemplated my experience connecting with immense gratitude for the profound insights of Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon (2017), as they systematically constructed a framework for teaching Viktor Frankl’s (1984) principles, I began to reflect upon others who lead with encouragement, specifically, my valuable connections on LinkedIn. I still avoid social media, but I have heeded the prompting to engage in the cyber realm, and LinkedIn was the compromise I was willing to accept, knowing connecting with others travelling similar paths, was a critical component of my life mission. This article comprises my tribute to my connections who lead with encouragement.
While it would be impossible to recognize all who lift my soul, as they lead with encouragement, I would like to recognize a few of you for your profound influence upon both my professional and personal pursuits:
- Thank you, Dr. K. L. Register, for your daily proclamations to move forward with faith in the face of trial and tribulation.
- Kyle Reyes provides relentless encouragement to military, law enforcement and freedom supporting causes, subsequently lifting me to drive on.
- Eli Crane fortifies me by sharing his professional expertise, infused in his courageous articles and other miscellaneous endeavors, facilitating school safety, supporting freedom, veterans, and Constitutional principles.
- Thank you, Dr. Stephanie Conn, for your diligence as an author and psychologist, promoting first responder wellbeing.
- Jocko Willink (2015) inspires me to embrace more comprehensive leadership principles, leading me to develop a multidirectional leadership philosophy, derived from his commentary regarding “leading up the chain,” contained in his bestselling book, “Extreme Ownership.” Thank you for the gift of your book, as well as the JOCKO podcast, as you continue to lead with encouragement.
- Karen Solomon at BLUE H.E.L.P., regularly provides encouragement by leading emotional resilience ventures for law enforcement officers.
- Deborah Louise Ortiz and Kelly Preston with the Code9 Project, provide lifesaving training and support to law enforcement professionals and their families.
- William Rusk leads and encourages wellness for police officers north and south of the U.S. border, via his Badge of Life Canada ventures.
- Sean Riley leads with courage and encouragement, as he shares his personal battles and triumphs, leading first responder resilience via Safe Call Now and other similar pursuits.
I pay tribute and offer my gratitude for the encouraging leadership you all provide to me. I look forward to many years of meaningful interactions, as our life missions intersect.
Sgt. Joshua Browne, M.P.S. is a police sergeant, adjunct professor within The George Washington University’s Master of Homeland Security Program, and founder of Heal the Badge Consulting. He authors articles and provides training courses in the realms of emotional resilience and altering organizational culture towards wellness. His efforts seek to realize the goal of fortifying law enforcement professionals, leaders and their families, by providing the necessary resilience tools for success within, outside and beyond the law enforcement career. He also utilizes his law enforcement and academic experience, to lead individuals outside of the first responder community, towards reconciling their traumatic experiences and realizing the meaning and growth embedded therein.
Achor, S. (2010). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Free Press.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Wellbeing in Daily Life. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol., 84, 377-389.
Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Pattakos, A., & Dundon, E. (2017). Prisoners of our Thoughts (3rd Rev ed.). Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Willink, J., & Babin, L. (2015). Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALSs Lead and Win. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.