Journal Entry: Robert Jesenik-01/24/2024-Blog #1

Journal Entry


For my first blog from prison, I’ve chosen this topic, primarily because of Chapter 5 of the NYT best-selling book,” The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*CK” by Mark Mason. There’s also a lot in the Bible about responsibility, regardless of our sins and indiscretions as they’re forgiven by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t own them.

According to Mason, “Whenever we feel we’re choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable”. Since almost no one chooses prison, how do we avoid being miserable and feeling victimized for sometimes, 7,12 even 20 years in some cases, which is clearly a very very long time? Mason offers some thought-provoking concepts that resonated with me and I hope may help others, in prison or not.

William James, who apparently became the father of American psychology in the late 1800’s, is regarded as one of the most influential intellectuals/philosophers/psychologists of his generation. Yet he apparently struggled his first 30+ years in life with all kinds of serious health issues. One night, while reading lectures by the philosopher Charles Prince, James decided to conduct an experiment. In his diary he wrote that he would spend one year believing he was 100% responsible for everything that occurred in his life, no matter what.

During this period, he would do everything in his power to change circumstances no matter the likelihood of failure. If nothing improved in that year, then it would be apparent he was powerless to the circumstances around him. It clearly worked, and he would later refer to this experiment as his rebirth, and credits it with everything that he would later accomplish in life, which was clearly a lot!! (Paragraph summarized from Mason).

As Mason summarizes and I totally agree with” There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerge- we individually are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.”

When I read these three paragraphs, and contrast them to the paradigm of problems being forced upon us against our will so we feel powerless and victimized, I see a road map to overcome those feelings. I choose how to interpret experiences and events that happened, and I choose the values and metrics by which we measure everything that happens to us (Mason). Seems we all can if we choose responsibility over victimhood. Then we are empowered!!

When you’re in prison, separating responsibility from control is especially powerful. I haven’t met anyone here yet who doesn’t feel they had an unfair trial/judge and once in the jaws of the “system”. no control over the outcome. But responsibility to me is still straightforward to accept even though one feels unfairly treated as a result of no control over the circumstances. Control is such a complicated topic in my view, as it encompasses God’s will for your life, political and social and economic phenomenon, man-made rules and laws inconsistently applied, one’s own choices and so forth. It’s easy to find self-pity due to lack of control. But it’s empowering to accept responsibility! I want to be responsible for what happened, not be a victim or traumatized by it. So what tools do I have to interpret experiences/events I’m responsible for in a healthy manner?

Mason goes on to state” we are always choosing the values by which we live and the metrics by which we measure everything that happens to us. What are we giving a “F” about? What values are we choosing to base our actions on? What metrics are we choosing to measure during our life? And are these good choices, values and metrics?” My values are Judeo-Christian based, love of God, sharing life with family and friends, giving back, mentoring, living healthy to name a few. What are yours? Interestingly, these are the main things I give an “F” about. What Mason’s book has done for me is help acknowledge if something besides these values frustrate/annoy/worry me, to NOT give a “F”. In prison the list of frustrations is long, but it’s been a lifesaver for me, and hopefully for you now wherever you be in life. Believe me, it really helps to limit what you give an “F” about.

Mason posits” The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives. Accepting responsibility for our problems is thus the first step to solving them”. Amen I say! Jesus offers a powerful tool as well in Matthew 5:44-“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecuted you”. Have to admit I’m still working on that one, but if I’m true to my values above, I need to get there to fully assume my responsibility and HOW I intend to respond.

Many of us confuse responsibility and fault. In my case it is somethimes a source of my guilt attacks. But Mason hits this head on ” We are responsible for experiences that aren’t our fault all the time, this is part of life”. He goes on to cite sevral examples.

Taking responsibilty for our problems is whats important, separate from fault, control, as Mason states, because that’s where real learning and real life improvement begins. Blaming others just brings us back to victimhood and hurting ourselves. Given I may be in prison for awhile, I’m taking responsibility for being here, and I intend to make real-life improvements happen for myself, God, my family, friends and those inside here who want the same. I hope you can do the same in your circumstances as well!

If you have comments or observations, please email me at

Lastly, I understand Mark Mason has a blog and podcast with several million subscribers you might want to subscribe to, I sure wish I could, but pretty difficult without Internet!!