Whatever happens, you always have a choice — you are able to choose your response.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
— Viktor Frankl
How often do we take that choice for granted and respond poorly by default?
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who survived the concentration camps. Can you imagine what he endured to be able to write that quote?
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl explains the deepest freedom you have, the freedom that can never be taken away, a powerful source of personal growth…
…is the ability to choose your response.
Just stop and think about that for a moment. No one can force you to be optimistic or upset or joyful or fearful.
Will you hold onto grudges? Will you be bitter at God for how he treated your loved ones? Will your imperfections be an endless source of self-pity? Will you withhold forgiveness at your own expense?
You tell me.
Despite barely existing in a world of torture where everyone around him was dying slowly, Frankl found meaning in suffering and was able to respond well.
He is not suggesting to minimize your suffering. Don’t try to deny or ignore pain, for that only disregards reality — that is a sure recipe for limitless frustration.
Instead, accept suffering as well as joy and learn how to respond well in all circumstances, knowing that our growth and freedom lie within our perspective.
Despite all that you do and all that happens to you, the response is entirely yours.
Think of an issue to which you respond poorly. What are your other choices?