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.*
the man without form, condemned to laborious effort, can with all his knowledge compel no recognition, move no stone from its allotted place**
Your attitude is critical.
It is the way you bring form to everything in your life, holding the past, being present in the now and imagining the future.
What Viktor Frankl refers to as attitude, Friedrich Schiller calls aesthetics, Otto Scharmer names it as our crystalising intent, Ken Robinson refers to it as our element and Joseph Campbell, our bliss. It’s the framing or forming story we choose for everything we are and do, as well as everything that happens to us:
All you have is what you are and what you give.^
And you have your attitude.
And we need it, for when we each bring our attitude into the world it becomes the space in which others might identify theirs.
(*Viktor Frankl, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Viktor Frankl on Humour as a Lifeline to Sanity and Survival.)
(**From Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man.)
(^Ursula Le Guin’s character “Shevek,” quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Ursula K. Le Guin on Suffering and Getting to the Other Side of Pain.)