Some Thoughts about Stimulus and Response

Viktor Frankl quote

Some people have this incredible gift of explaining simple stuff in simple words. Viktor Frankl – a Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor – was one of them. In his book Mans’ Search for Meaning, he writes about his experiences as a concentration camp inmate, which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in any form of existence. According to his introduction in the book,

He noticed that it was the men who comforted others and who gave away their last piece of bread who survived the longest – and who offered proof that everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. The sort of person the concentration camp prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not of camp influences alone. Frankl came to believe man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose.

One of the best quotes in his book explains one of the simplest concepts very few people learn in their entire lives.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

The quote is so simple that it needs no explanation. I just write some random thoughts about it.

  • Next time when you feel responding to someone quickly, wait. And do nothing. Give a simple pause, maybe by counting to 10 in your heart. That alone will dampen down most of the negative energy you were about to release. Apply the same strategy if you are about to send a fiery email or message to someone you are justifiably angry with.
  • Most, but not all, bad tempers happen when a bodily need is not fulfilled at that time. So watch your behaviour specifically before meals and sleeping.
  • Don’t let anyone with bad driving habits, or someone who has just made a mistake, ruin your peace of mind. Wait. Pause. Then, resume the normal course of life.
  • When the life brings you down, and it will happen some day, choose to fight and stand up again. Remember that every situation is temporary and the turning of the wheel will bring you up again if you cling to it.
  • Finally, during any situation, create a gap after the stimulus. And respond after thinking of all the great qualities you actually possess, such as forgiveness, bravery, humbleness and wisdom.

To sum up, everlasting freedom comes from within which remains true in all times and circumstances.

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