Less Entertainment, more personal development.

So, I’ve decided once again that I need to do things that will contribute to my personal growth. That means, fewer movies, fewer TV shows, less Scramble, and more reading. Specifically I read the “5 Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman last week. Can you believe that I have never read it? Some interesting stuff, especially about the difference between love, and the “in love” experience. This week I picked up “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” again. I started with the first habit again and found some interesting things that I thought I would share.

“[Viktor] Frankl was a determinist raised in the traditions of Freudian psychology, which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and basically, you can’t do much about it.

Frankl was also a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat them.

His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens. Except for his sister, his entire family perished. Frankl himself suffered torture and innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small rooom, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” — the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Viktor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps. He would describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines–mental, emotional, and moral, principally using memory and imagination–he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger and larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors. They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options. He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards. He helped other find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.

In the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human endowment of self-awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”

I don’t have to get mad when I get cut off in traffic. I don’t have to get irritated when my employees pull me away from important things to deal with minutiae. When treated poorly, I don’t have to act poorly in response. One other thing that he said that goes along these line is: “It is not what others do, or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things. Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison through our entire system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison out.” Far better to get my attitude squared away, remember that I am a child of the King, a joint heir, that the joy of the Lord is my strength, and think on things true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report that I can.

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