We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that 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 Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
So much of our time is spent in speculation – in worry, preparing ourselves for eventualities that never occur, rehearsing conversations that never take place, defending ourselves against accusations that never arise; or in guilt, shame or defensiveness, replaying what has already occurred, trying to make it come out differently – if only I had said this, done that, if only he weren’t such a ______, if only I weren’t such an ________–etc., etc.
In truth there is very little we have any control over, future or past. And the longer we are alive, the more becomes clear. Ask yourself: how much control do I have over:
- when I will die,
- what you think of me,
- whether or not she/he loves me,
- whether or not I get that job?
We can take care of our health, be nice to our neighbor, bring flowers home once in a while, work hard and perfect our craft, and each of these things will have an effect, but in the end the outcome always is out of our hands.
What do I have control over? As Mr. Frankl tells us so clearly, though we may not be able to choose our circumstances, we can choose our attitude. We cannot choose the forest we must walk through, but we can choose our own path, our own way. And as we do so, we learn that in fact this makes all the difference. The attitude we adopt and the path we choose will determine what our day will be like, regardless of winning or losing, regardless of having or not having. To get present with ourselves and choose an attitude that celebrates life and a path that has to do with love and service aligns us with nature itself, and aligned with nature we enter the flow of life. Entering the flow of life we are supported in each step we take, each word we speak, each choice we make, and with this support comes the true joy that is our birthright. The joy of being at one with this miracle of life.
Today I will exercise my freedom to choose my attitude and to choose my path, regardless of who or what seems to have the power to dictate these for me.