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 E. Frankl
It’s not very poetic language, but then Frankl was a psychiatrist, not a poet.
“Stimulus” is a terribly clinical term to describe our relationships with each other and the world around us.
The point though, that I take from the quote is that there’s always an opportunity in our interactions with “the other”, whether an individual or some other aspect of the universe, for us to choose how we respond.
We might choose a self-oriented response, one that focuses on the greatest immediate benefit to ourselves alone.
… we might choose a response grounded in the Principle of Mutuality, which moves us to the perspective of considering how our response can lead to the greatest consideration for everyone and everything that will be touched by whatever choice we’re about to make.
Even with the best of intentions, that’s not easy to do. The space that Frankl identifies can be very brief. Sometimes we’re called on to make decisions quickly; sometimes it just seems as though the choice is so inconsequential that it doesn’t matter.
That’s all the more reason for us to hone our ability to recognize the far reaching implications of even the most casual decision. Because, as Frankl notes …
… it is in our response that our opportunity for growth, and indeed our freedom from the dead end of self-interest, resides.