Stimulus and 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 E. Frankl
It is an easy trap to lament circumstance: health difficulties, losing a job, relationship breakdown. Frankl’s key message is the Stoic one of knowing what we can truly control (our thoughts) and then using that as the foundation as to how we positively interact with the world.
We can’t fully control the ‘stimulus’. Yes, many of us are fortunate to be able to make decisions that influence where we are and who we meet but we can’t rely on it. Therefore, we should focus on what we can control — our thoughts, attitude, intentions.
Frankl’s ideas were formed during his time at Auschwitz. Stripped of everything that he could formerly control, how he responded to his environment was critical for his well-being during his time in the concentration camp and beyond.
We all have the power to respond well to circumstance and fundamentally, make good decisions. We should strive to remember that power when we encounter challenges and respond in a way that aligns with what we value.