Tag Archives: Viktor Frankl

Between stimulus and response there is a space…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Remember that quote from Viktor Frankl?  ““Between stimulus and responsethere is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  I’ve been working on acting on this insight.  I’ve recognized that sometimes my response is more “reactive”, more of a knee jerk, reflexive reaction, such as the unkind words that tumble out of my mouth in a moment of minor road rage.  Or the quick judgmental opinion that comes to mind when I hear someone speak from values that I don’t share.  These unchosen reactions are a detriment to my mental health and happiness, not to mention the negative impact on others.

What I want for myself is to pause in that space that Frankl describes and choose my response based on a perceptive interpretation of what I want.    Do I want to dump a load of reflexive anger, or do I want to respect myself and the other enough to make a better choice?


This is easier for me to think about and talk about than to actually do it.  What helps me is the growing understanding we have of how our brain has developed reactions to experiences that might be seen as threatening.  One of the most basic of these reactions is the “stranger danger” reaction.  When we encounter someone or something that is unfamiliar and unknown our first response is often self-protective.  This is not a bad thing.  This is part of our inherited survival instincts.  This first response is a “fight/flight/freeze” response which bypasses the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain where we make choices, and sets us up for a defensive or offensive reaction.  I think some of what we have labeled “prejudice” is this sort of autonomic reaction to an unfamiliar situation.  With this understanding, I believe we need to cut ourselves and others a bit of slack when encountering the unfamiliar.

I can learn to recognize a reflexive reaction and I’m finding that if I can find that “pause” place until my pre-frontal cortex comes on line, I can make a kindlier considered response which is more reflective of my chosen values to be respectful and to “live and let live.”

In our growing understanding of the development of our brain we can find a new freedom to choose a better way to relate to ourselves and others.  Rather than condemning what we now know as survival adaptations, like the reactive response to a perceived threat, we can learn to become more aware of what is reflexive and what is chosen behavior.  With that awareness we can focus our conscious attention on choosing behaviors that move us toward what we want.  The more we can fulfill those inner Quality World pictures that are our sense of what we want that will meet our needs, the more we will enjoy a higher quality of mental health and happiness.

Why can’t everyone else change so I get what I want?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Dr. Glasser defines stress as the difference between what we want and what we are getting. This is also the motivation for all behavior. So inspired, we all act on the world to try and change it so we can get what we want. Too often what we are acting upon in the world, what we are trying to change is another person.

I’d be a better wife if only my husband would change. I’d make a nice evening meal if he would promise to be home to eat. But he never keeps a consistent schedule so I never know when to plan dinner. 

I’m a great parent but my children won’t listen and cooperate with me. I’m trying to get all our chores done and the house picked up so we can go on a play date. But these children keep making more messes as soon as I clean one. All their screaming and fooling around drives me nuts. Why can’t they just cooperate this one time so we can go where they want to go? 

My boss doesn’t appreciate how hard I try to do a good job. Why should I work so hard when I never get any appreciation. Not only do I do what she asks, I go out of my way to do even more. But she never notices, she never gives me credit. She only tells me the things I still haven’t done to her satisfaction. 

In each of these situations the person is lacking satisfaction because the husband, the child, the boss is not doing what the wife, the parent or the employee wants and expects. Too often complaining and waiting for the other person to change are not the only things that the wife, the parent and the employee are doing to try to get their “other”to change. (Refer to deadly habits explained in other blogs.)

This might be a good time to take advice from Viktor Frankl. The chances that the wife, the mother, the employee and YOU will be able to change the other person are questionable. And in the process of trying to change the other person you run the risk of damaging your relationships.

We are rarely able to change the situation if the situation we are trying to change is another person. Let’s start from that understanding.

Accept Frankl’s challenge to change yourself from the very beginning!

Do you want to be a better spouse? What would you be doing, thinking, feeling as a better wife? Start now instead of waiting for your husband to change.

Do you want to be a great parent? Start now, whether your children are cooperating with you or not. You might even alter your definition. Parenting uncooperative children well is your new definition of being a great parent.

Do you work hard, doing even more than you are asked? Can you give yourself the pat on the back, an internal reward of recognition? Can you start noticing and recognizing all the things your boss is doing for and with you, rather than only noticing what she is not doing? Hmm. Are you getting back what you are giving out?

Meet the challenge of changing yourself. In order to get more of what you want avoid trying to change another. By focusing on changing yourself and not the other you will maintain connected relationships and improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Meaning or Happiness?

Submitted by Denise Daub

We spend so much energy and time looking for happiness. We read books, join groups, seek professional help… all in pursuit of happiness. What are we really looking for?  Is it happiness or meaning?  Are they the same? Viktor Frankl’s theory of logotherapy holds that it is meaning , not happiness, that is the primary and motivating  driving force in humans.

Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, states “that the key to finding happiness begins with letting go of your pursuit of happiness.”

What do you think?

Read more, This Man Faced Unimaginable Suffering, And Then Wrote The Definitive Book About Happiness.