Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, called our ability to choose how we respond to circumstances our “final freedom.”
Think about this for a moment. We can respond to the events in our lives in one of three ways: positively, negatively or neutrally. Even in difficult times, when we do not seem to have many or any choices, we still posses this final freedom that allows us to choose how we respond to our circumstances.
That’s a good thing to know, and it’s a good idea in theory. However, how can we implement this idea in the real world? One way is to get your brain to function like a camera, especially when facing difficult circumstances. Instead of thinking “what do I see?,” think in terms of “what would the lens of a camera see if a picture could be taken of this event or these circumstances?”
The camera lens captures only the facts. However, unlike a tamron lens cheap camera, your brain provides all types of emotional input. When you “see” something, light waves bounce off objects in your environment and are instantaneously converted by your visual sensory organs into the only language the human brain understands, electrical impulses.
These impulses race around the neural pathways in your brain and trigger responses from many different areas, including the parts of your brain associated with memory. This process builds a mental image of what you have observed. Therefore, what you “see” is heavily influenced by your memories, what you want to see, what you fear, other emotions and so forth and so on. That’s why three people can see the same thing and respond in three totally different ways: positively, negatively or neutrally.
OK, I’ve brought up this positive, negative, neutral thing twice now. This is the key to exercising your final freedom. If you accept the premise that you have these three choices, you can pre-decide which choice will help you get the best results in life. My vote is to get in the habit of consistently choosing a positive response, occasionally choosing the neutral response and eliminate or minimize negative responses.
Think of this as a two-step process. When you encounter difficult circumstances, ask yourself:
What would a camera lens see?
Is there any possible way to respond positively to this event or these circumstances? If all else fails, you can always default to the “what can I learn from this and what will I do differently next time?” response. Enjoy your final freedom. Develop it and it will serve you well.