Whose stimulus is it, anyway?

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. - Viktor Frankl (maybe)

One of my favorite provocations. The idea that we choose how to respond, that we are not wired to respond in a particular fashion. That we may be predisposed to reach for a familiar, learned response, but ultimately, each and every time, we own how we respond, how we engage, and whether or not we engage (and even choosing not to engage is, by definition, a response). It is liberating, that we are in control, that we get to decide. It is liberating, yet not any less difficult, to choose wisely, in a way that does no harm to self or others. It’s easier to trick ourselves into thinking that we had no say in the matter, none whatsoever.

But let’s back up, rewind to the stimulus. What of that? There are the stimuli that happen, that we do not seek out. All of those events, interactions, blessings, transgressions, moments of grace, minor and major grievances, misfortunes, and good fortunes, that happen to us (or for us, depending on your vantage point). When something happens to us that we couldn’t have gone out looking for, our ability to tap into that space by first remembering that it exists is tested, again and again.

I do wonder about the stimuli that we seek out. The gloom & doom news we reach for, the political dramas we consume, the social media sites that we know are not good for our self-esteem, for our healthy social lives in real life, yet we allow our thumbs to scroll, scroll scroll and our eyes and ears to fixate on the screens, and all of the fear and negativity that jump off those screens into our sense doors. We loathe their destructive forces, yet we seek them out, and why?

I’m taking the week off and wonder what stimuli might replace the usual suspects if I willingly lift my head up and look around me.

To be continued . . .


The Full Moon, Mary Oliver, and Gillette

The Full Moon, Mary Oliver, and Gillette