“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” -Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
I came across this famous quote by Viktor Frankl, Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist, and Holocaust concentration camp survivor, while reading Lori Gottlieb’s book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.”
She is a psychotherapist and writer, who is discussing how she began dealing with uncertainty in her own life, her counseling sessions with her own therapist. Dealing with a recent breakup, health issues that a litany of professionals can’t seem to diagnose, and a father nearing the end of his life, as she heads to the midpoint of her life–40 years old–she begins to work through the swirling uncertainties that constantly berate her.
She also provides another telling quote from Frankl in the same chapter:
“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, Man’s Search for Meaning
Something we will never lose is our freedom of choice over our attitude. We will always have freedom over our mind and our response in the face of hardship. Maybe it is an unwanted or unexpected divorce or end of a long-term relationship. Maybe your father or mother or spouse has a terminal illness with weeks left to live. Life is full of uncertainties. Much of what happens around us and to us we have no control over whatsoever. The external circumstances we find ourselves does have an effect on the internal feelings we have, but we still have a choice to respond differently.
As Frankl says, “In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
What will you choose?