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The One Choice We Always Have

by jenny sansouci on March 3, 2015

Hey monkeys. I’m currently in Hong Kong having a brilliant time adjusting to the time difference (13 hours ahead of NYC). GB and I woke up up SUPER early this morning and had dumplings and miso soup for breakfast! So cool!!! I love eating the authentic food in other countries, it’s one of the coolest parts of international travel. Happy happy joy joy joyyyyy!! (Anyone remember Ren and Stimpy?) #sleepdeprivation #heeeeee

ren and stimpy

Now. Onto the serious stuff. Right now I’m reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. To be honest, I started reading it accidentally. A wonderful woman at Gabby’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass mentioned a quote from the book, and when I went to search for the quote, I ended up reading the first chapter of the book and then buying it.

It’s an incredible book for a lot of reasons, but so far there’s one quote that has really stood out to me.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Now, the reason I love this quote so much is because of the context the author wrote it in. The book is Viktor Frankl’s account of what it was like to be a prisoner in a concentration camp in World War II. This is arguably the most horrifying situation anyone could ever be placed in, and he spent his time studying the psychology of the prisoners and the guards. The first part of the book is uncomfortable to read and tough to get through, but it’s the reality of the history of humanity and I think it gives incredible perspective.

Most of us will never experience a situation as helpless, hopeless and terrifying as the situation written about in this book. But he writes about how some of the prisoners were able to find humor, art, and even moments of peace and hope throughout the journey, and that every day they had the choice to give up, or to hold onto hope and courage and be a decent human being to their companions.

They were stripped away of everything — all comforts, all loved ones, everything they had ever connected to.

We have the freedom to choose our attitude in any given circumstance. If they had the choice, we have the choice. No matter how tired, how cranky, how hungry, or how irritated we are — we have the choice.

I once had a roommate named Steve who was a doctor in the ER. He would work 24 hour shifts and it was extremely tiring. Every time he came home from a 24 hour shift I was shocked at how cheerful he was. “Tired is just a mindset,” he would say. He loved his job and he showed up for every 24 hour shift with the intention to learn and become the best doctor he could be. He didn’t complain about being tired, instead he came back with stories from the hospital and looked forward to his next shift. It was fascinating to me.

Next time you are in an undesirable situation and want to put your grumpy pants on, think about this quote. Realize you DO have the choice to change your attitude even if you have to pretend, and show up with appreciation, optimism, and decency.

Read – Man’s Search For Meaning

Food for thought.

Sending love from Hong Kong…


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Mark March 3, 2015 at 9:49 am

Good quote. It’s not always easy to know how to do that. I guess it begins with knowing what your mindset is at any particular time because that can become a pattern you just fall into without even thinking about it. The self awareness and adjustment is something good to work on so that the behavior can change (for me anyway).

Christy March 3, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I am obsessed with this quote!!!! It’s a total game changer.

Robyn March 3, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Love this. Love you.

Joy March 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm

So glad you were inspired to pick up this life changing book. When I read it at age 19, it was a dark period of my life and it gave me a whole new perspective on everything and eventually led to my becoming a shrink–to help people find their “why”!! XOXO

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