Happiness as a choice

While researching for another article I came across this beautiful animation on YouTube by Fight Mediocrity and found this video quite useful in explaining our own beliefs behind our happiness and famous quote about stimulus-response by Victor Frankl. This video is based on Victor Frankl’s ideas and the animator elaborates them quite well with simple examples. The video explains two of his core ideas:

  1. Happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue.
  2. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

The second one is especially crux of the matter. The ABC framework of REBT by Albert Ellis explains this in a similar way. It proposes that between an Activating Event (A) and Consequences (C) there is an underlying Belief (B) that has an effect on the consequences. REBT, as a therapy also discusses Disputation (D) and Effect (E) as well, but let’s leave that part out for this article.

Following illustrations show these two approaches –

Stimulus-Response by Viktor Frankl

Stimulus Response by Frankl - used with gratitude from MindfulYouth.org
Stimulus-Response by Frankl: Used with gratitude from MindfulYouth.org

ABC Framework of REBT

ABC Framework in REBT: Used with gratitude from SerenityRecovery.com
ABC Framework in REBT: Used with gratitude from SerenityRecovery.com

Though video explains this with trivial examples like breaking of plates, Victor Frankl, who was a holocaust survivor asserts that this “freedom to choose our own response” is equally crucial even in dire situations such as the threat of inevitable death in the concentration camps. This is what he says:

“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.”

― Viktor Frankl

If you are really curious, you can read his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning based on his experiences being an inmate in a concentration camp during World War II. It is one of my favourite books and it has been translated into 24 languages and sold over 10 million copies. It is not just inspiring, it is legendary.

The ABC model of REBT suggests that by examining & disputing (D) the irrational beliefs (B), we can change them and achieve more desired effect (E).  While Frankl’s quote seems more like an intuitive expression, REBT provides a systematic way of analyzing activating event and its emotional consequences. I also found quite a thoughtful article titled Logotherapy-enhanced REBT talking about these two. You may read it if you are really curious.

Watch this interesting video and let’s ponder about the real reasons for our happiness or lack of it!


The featured image used for this article is a screen-shot from the video shared here.

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