The Space Between

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“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.

To Russia With Love

Amy and I are going to be in St. Petersburg-Russia soon. We were  in Moscow a few years ago and loved it!  Even though the people were hard to engage, there was something about the city that drew us. St. Petersburg is different from Moscow as it is the most European of Russian cities. The Hermitage Museum (which I am stoked to see) holds Rembrandt’s painting “The Prodigal Son.”  I have a print of that work on my office wall and I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to gaze at it for a while! From the descriptions I have heard and the images I have seen, St Pete looks and sounds beautiful. It would seem we also get a double blessing as we will be experiencing the White Nights” while we are there. The White Nights are a perpetual dusk…it never gets dark…

As we are getting prepped and set to take off, I thought it would be good to absorb to the words of some famous Russian writers, Dostoyevsky & Tolstoy…

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“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“You can be sincere and still be stupid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“To love someone means to see him as God intended him.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“Beauty will save the world”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“rest, nature, books, music…such is my idea of happiness…”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“To get rid of an enemy one must love him. ”
― Leo Tolstoy

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

“Music is the shorthand of emotion”
― Leo Tolstoy

LIFE: SNQuotes 6/23/12

Ah life. How should you live it? Why did you receive it? Where is it all going? There are as many questions about life as there are life-forms in the universe! This week I pulled from some fun and diverse sources to find out what others have had to say about life and living.

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Every man dies. Not every man really lives.  ~William Wallace

Don’t go through life, grow through life.  ~Eric Butterworth

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
~William James

An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.  ~Charles Darwin

A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.  ~James Allen

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.  ~Carl Sandburg

For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.  ~Richard Bach

I love those who yearn for the impossible.  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is not length of life, but depth of life.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.  ~Charlotte Bronte

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.  ~Albert Schweitzer

Life is a long lesson in humility.  ~James M. Barrie

Life is half spent before we know what it is.  ~George Herbert

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.  ~Soren Kierkegaard

Life must be lived as play.   ~Plato

Life ought to be a struggle of desire toward adventures whose nobility will fertilize the soul.  ~Rebecca West

Look, I don’t want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you’re not alive.  ~Mel Brooks

My life is my message.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

Our entire life – consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.
~Jean Anouilh

Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.
~Soren Kierkegaard

Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.   ~Woody Allen

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.  ~William James

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.  ~Carl Jung

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.  ~Buddha

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.
~Erma Bombeck

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.  ~Albert Camus