The Last of the Human Freedoms

man standing in the middle of woods

“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.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

No matter what you are facing, remember this one thing: everything can be taken from you ― your family, your friends, your home, your possessions, your reputation, etc. ― but you still have the remarkable, powerful , transformative, and most of all, inalienable privilege: to choose your attitude. It may not sound like much, but this freedom, the liberty to choose the way in which you will respond or radiate into the world around you, is the most potent and indelible of all your outer capacities.

When all seems lost, when the feeling of emptiness and impotence consume you and seem larger than your ability to overcome the dark, cold void, you can and must let go of the fear for just long enough to admit to yourself that you still have the choice as to how to respond. In this split second, the potent, transfigurative power of love, light, and life will flouresce from within outward. Through this aperture you will maintain your alignment with righteousness and as a consequence, your self-respect.

You need not relinquish your dignity, your honor, and your self-awareness when the chips are down or when the pressure is on you. If you refuse to break down and give in to whatever addictions have tended to control you, if you resist the impulse to go on the attack, and if you spurn the temptation to retreat into the shadows in these critical moments and deliberately choose instead to let love radiate without concern for results, your dignity will remain in tact, regardless of what others may think of you or how things may appear on the surface.

Now this may sound like a tall order, but it really isn’t much more than coming to terms with the reality of the enormity of your being. Remember this: an ounce of reality, of the real and unadulterated, unapologetic, uncompromising you weighs more than all the tons of bullshit (yours or anothers) in the world. Exercising the power to choose how you will respond is what allows miracles to happen, the so-called “light” to “shine.” It’s effect, and the feeling of connection to the very heart of reality that it engenders is unequivocal, deeply comforting, and life changing.

If you don’t trust me, try it for yourself. What do you have to lose?


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