The last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…


I have never encountered a situation, let it be fictional or personal experience where one does not have a choice.
It was a warming feeling that Viktor Frankl found the same conclusion in one of the darkest place ever:

“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.
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour,
offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which
determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers
which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom;
which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of
circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded
into the form of the typical inmate.” [Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for meaning]

It’s not up to us whether we are born a boy or a girl, handsome or not, healthy or disabled and often whether we have bad teeth or no and whether we live to 16 to 85.
When I was 21 I went to study with a scholarship to Italy for half a year.
My grandpa, who has turned 96 today, got a similar scholarship at the same age to France. It was the spring season of 1940 and the Second World War started. His worries shifted from exams, friends and girls to survival.

It would be not only vain but stupid to say that I’m in any way smarter or better than my grandpa for not facing the same choices. It’s external circumstances we often can do nothing about.


People in my life often tell me: “How could have I done anything else?” “I had no choice.” “It was impossible.”

It’s almost always the sign of poor judgement let it be about kicking out a cheating girlfriend, buying a new iPhone or staying home for the summer.

Before you commit to having a big decision, let it be choosing the faculty your parents push you to do, getting together with a generally acceptable partner you are not sure of or go to the party Friday night you’d love to skip this once, think of Viktor Frankl and his journey where he could find people in a concentration camp who managed to stay loyal to their ideas, even if it meant dying.

And let’s not forget either that we live in a world with several open opportunities. We are not confined in camps and our actions do change the outside world. It’s unlikely that it’s up to you whether WW3 will begin or AI kills of humanity in your lifetime but nevertheless you can do plenty to make the world a more peaceful place. If a butterfly’s wingflap in Brazil can set off a Tornado in Texas your actions might prevent a 3rd world war. Try hard to have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and have wisdom to know the difference…

So next time…
…when you feel you are pushed into something you don’t want and you feel helpless: DO NOT GIVE IN. DO NOT GIVE IN…

3 thoughts on “The last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…

  1. I agree with you. I was actually also planning to talk about choice in my next post. I think that we always have a choice. Even a limited one. As Jean-Paul Sartre says:” Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. ” And we do that through choice not chance.


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