Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Power to Choose

I was recently reminded of the fallacy of the statement "I didn't have time."  In fact, every time we hear ourselves of other say "Sorry, I didn't have time" we can reflect that what we really mean to say is that "I didn't prioritize it."  This of course is a less gracious and socially acceptable response, but it is closer to the truth.  We all have the same amount of time in the day, and what we decide to do is ultimately our choice. 

Of course, we have "obligations" but every obligation is a choice as well.  In an extreme example we might say "I can't abandon my child!" Well, you could.  And, people have.  But, you choose not to.  Which means that ultimately that child is a priority in your life. And, a beautiful priority at that. 

Likewise, "Well, I have to work."  There are those in our society that have chosen not to work regularly and live a non-coventional life as a result.  These are all possibilities for how we can lead our lives.  If they are undesirable, then we get to own up to it and accept that we choose what we do in out lives.  We are not as victimized as we may feel at times. 

I reminded my students this week that this power of choice is with them all the time.  I reminded that they could stand up and leave the classroom at any moment. Nothing was chaining them there.  They are free individuals.  They are not a victim of taking an 8am class. It was their choice.  And, by owning that choice and the decision behind it reminds us why we made the choice in the first place. 

We prioritize our lives according the people, things, and ideals we value.  My CFR practitioner says "The life you have is the life you want."  Meaning that all of our choices have lead to this point and the values we hold.  This doesn't mean you can simply choose a life without hardships. Sometimes the choices we are make are between the lesser of two challenges.  But, the fact we even get to make that choice is a huge positive.  Rather than get overwhelmed by the big picture, I think about the little daily things that shape my existence.

For instance: Yesterday was a long day for me. A non-stop schedule from 8am to 10pm.  It was a full day it was a tiring day, but it was a valuable day and worth the energy I chose to expend.  I chose to have a full day that day knowing that today I have sometime to rest and recuperate. I chose to drink an afternoon coffee knowing that my priority on this particular day was getting through all of the events as alert as possible.  Today, I won't have an extra coffee, because today I chose to rest and allow my body to process yesterday's choices. 

Perhaps the hardest part of making choices is owning our value set.  When I choose to watch television over doing homework, I can feel embarrassed or ashamed of my choice.  This is because I tend to over-value what people think about me, and I tend to under-value my need for rest.  On the other hand, I can turn myself around and ask. What do I really want to do?  Do I want to rest and veg out? Or do I want to do my homework and feel more prepared and confident going into my tomorrow? Sometimes the tv wins out, but when I stop and ask myself this question it can also motivate me to turn off the tv and open up my work. 

It feels good to do what we want to do. And, we feel it acutely when we resent having to do something we don't want to do.  But, when we remember that we really don't have to do any of it. It can shape our perspective and our approach.  I can wear dirty clothes for a week if I really didn't want to do laundry.  But, I prefer to wear clean clothes.  So, the laundry then becomes a treat. I GET to wear clean clothes!  I get to be prepared for my day tomorrow! I get to make the choices that best serve me today! 

The concept of course is so simple.  But, for me to consistently practice my power to choose has been huge in increasing my quality of life. Life feels more like a treat than a punishment.  

And, all I have to do is own the choice in this moment.  

Right where I am. Own it.

Are you owning your power to choose? Where in your life do you feel obligated? When might you feel resentful? What choices brought you right here to this moment?  Are they serving you? 


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