Choice: The Ultimate Freedom
by: Sudhakar Ram
The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~ Victor E. Frankl
He refused to allow himself to sink into depths of despair and gloom despite seeing his near and dear ones being led to the gas chambers. Instead, as a psychiatrist, he chose to exercise personal freedom, the freedom to perceive his circumstances as an opportunity to learn about human behavior in the face of death.
He would frequently march outside his barracks hovel and deliver a lecture to an imaginary audience about the psychotherapeutic experiences in a concentration camp. He emerged as one of Holocaust‘s survivors and lived to tell the story in his book – Man’s Search for Meaning.
I have experienced choice as one of the most powerful levers for transformation in my own life. It took me some time to assimilate this lesson: you can’t choose what happens to you; you only have the freedom to choose how you respond to the situations and challenges that confront you. At the minimum, this approach eliminates any feeling of helplessness or frustration about the circumstances.
More often, it has helped me respond to situations in a more creative and effective manner, improving the outcomes quite dramatically. So much so, one of the first values I tried to teach my daughter, Samvitha, when she was about three, was to encourage her to actively exercise choice – first over her moods and then over her actions.
The future is all about exercising choice. We need to recognize that our current beliefs and assumptions are only that – beliefs and assumptions that we, as mankind – have invented over the last two centuries. We have the freedom, therefore, to reframe those beliefs and assumptions in ways that are more empowering to humanity as a whole and in harmony with our environment.
We have the choice to reinvent success as pursuing our true calling, while the world pursues material wealth. We can choose to make learning a life-long endeavor rather than cramming a lot of facts and information into 15 years of our schooling. We can choose to find fulfillment in our work instead of doing just a job that earns us a living.
We can exercise the choice of when to say enough to consumption and when to focus on developing our higher self. We can choose to pay attention to our physical and mental wellness, devoting the time required for exercise, rest and relaxation. We can make the choice to connect globally but live and consume locally, with the help of today’s technology.
We can choose to voice our opinion on government, from national to local. This is your opportunity to join a community of people who have discovered this freedom and want to actively reinvent the future – the world that we will leave behind for posterity.