“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
Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, but most notably he was a Holocaust survivor. His most well-known book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” records his existential journey to unearth hope in a hopeless environment in order to survive.
Some thoughts that come from that book:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“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, to choose one’s own way.”
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
“I do not forget any good deed done to me & I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”
“Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.”
The space between is all about your choice.
The space between is the hard journey from where you started and where you want to be.
The space between is where life really happens, but we rush through missing the lessons intended to expand our experience on earth because we falsely believe life is somewhere other than where we are.
In order to absorb every atom of life and experience growth and freedom remember this trinity:
1. Slow Down: Technology and culture have increased our busyness and hurriedness. We are forever in a rush, angry, aggravated, stressed and undone. If you find yourself saying “I don’t have enough time” constantly, then you need to choose to slow down, budget your time and prioritize some time to simply “be.” We are a nation of “doers” and our over-doing it is robbing us of life. Give yourself permission this week to simply be with no agenda. Sit and read, or simply find a great coffee spot and drink slowly, savoring the flavor, aroma and experience.
2. Show compassion: When we show compassion to people, we are training our soul to see value in life. It is very hard to show compassion if you are in a hurry or constantly judging others. When you begin to love people, as they are, not as they should be, there is a shift that takes place inside of you. A shift that removes a jaded spirit and a judgmental spirit. We are never able to slow down nor show compassion when we try to rocket through the space between. Compassion adds beauty and instills hope and meaning. Hope and meaning are necessary ingredients in a full life.
3. Breathe deeply: To breathe deeply will cause you to slow down. Breath is life, and North American’s are the shallowest breathers on the planet. Breathe in slowly and deeply…as you hold your breath, thank God for life, yours and others. You will notice that your energy levels increase as you breathe deeply, and it causes you to slow down. As you slow down, you will finally be able to see that person who simply needs your compassion. Maybe it is just a hello, or a note or moving a garbage can…people need compassion the way we all need to breathe. As you breathe deeply remember that you are most like God when you extend love, grace and compassion to others.
4. Embrace the mystery of God: Stop trying to figure God out and all the mysteries of the universe. The moment you have God figured out, you no longer have God. Believe it or not, the mystery of God can help us through the space between far better than the best “pat answers” that so many religionists peddle. Somehow God is good, able and involved even when we suffer from a circumstance…How can that be? If we slow down, breathe, and practice compassion, God’s presence is manifest in such a way that answers pale in comparison to the God who is there.
Spend a little extra time this week enjoying the space between, because as Frankl said, In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.