Happiness and love are just a choice away (Leo Buscaglia, 1924 ~ 1998)
As I write this, Christmas is right around the corner, so it is only natural that I started to think about gifts. Since I already completed my Christmas shopping, I began to think of gifts I have already received. The major one is the gift of life. As significant as life is, it is nothing more than potential until we apply the second gift, which is the power of choice. When we stir life’s potential with our choices, we arrive at our third gift, our uniqueness or originality.
What greater gift can you give the world than yourself? You are unlike anyone else, so no one can make the same contribution to life that you can. That’s quite a responsibility, isn’t it? Whenever we consciously make a choice, we learn to be responsible, and whenever we suffer the consequences of a poor choice, we learn to make wiser ones in the future.
Someone once asked me if I believe in predestination. Sure I do, my future is predetermined by my present actions. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. That’s why Kahlil Gibran (1883 ~ 1931) wrote, “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” That is, if I choose to do the wrong things today, I am simultaneously choosing to suffer in the future. For this reason, we have to be careful of our choices. After all, it is choice, not chance, that determines our destiny.
I cannot emphasize too strongly how important the power of choice is. You see, some people act out of force of habit. But when we act by habit we have no choice. Don’t give up your power, but use it to create the life you want. Be sure to choose the correct attitude. Doesn’t every street have two sides, one shady and one sunny? Why not choose to be on the sunny side of the street? By making the right choices we will discover the truth of Leo Buscaglia’s statement that “Happiness and love are just a choice away.”
Some may be tempted to say, “How can you say it is choice, not chance that determines our destiny? I didn’t choose to have a tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, mudslide, or volcano destroy my village, but one did. So, isn’t it chance or fate that ruins the lives of millions?”
No, it is not outside events, but how we CHOOSE to view them that ruins lives. For example, as I write this, I am surrounded by a vicious snow storm. I didn’t choose to have a snow storm, especially since I have to attend a meeting tomorrow morning. I enjoy moderate amounts of snow, but prefer not to have snow storms. But since I have no choice in the matter, why not look at it on the bright side. For instance, my wife and I will definitely get a lot of exercise today and tomorrow by shoveling snow; the community looks beautiful draped in snow; also, since another snow storm is following this one, we will have a white Christmas, and, finally, it will be an adventure getting to my meeting tomorrow. So, you see, we can choose to light a candle rather that curse the darkness.
Shouldn’t we choose to be happy? Groucho Marx (1895 ~ 1977) thought so, for he said, “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” In a broken world, you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. It’s your choice. Which will it be?
We live in a sea of infinite possibilities. Swirling about us is an endless array of opportunities. We can be, do, or have anything. Yet, many choose to do what is easy, rather than what is inspiring. If we only knew how great we could become, perhaps things would be different. However, it’s never too late to awaken. It’s never too late to challenge ourselves and commit to change.
The stakes are high. For whether I live as a victim or a victor is a choice. Whether I vanquish my problems or allow them to crush me is a choice. Here’s what the author of “As A Man Thinketh,” James Allen (1864 ~ 1912) has to say on the subject: “Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.” The good news is whether we’re rich or poor, male or female, young or old, black or white, we all have received the gift of power of choice.
SOME STEPS TO TAKE OR AVOID
1. Make conscious choices throughout the day to develop your power of choice. Resist the habit of acting automatically, without thought. You are the captain of your destiny, don’t fall asleep at the wheel!
2. Embrace wisdom such as these words by Scout Cloud Lee (http://www.scoutcloudlee.com/bio.htm) “When we acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choice and therefore sacred, then life is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of a better world.”
3. Monitor your actions. Each choice you make leads you closer to or further from your goals, dreams, and desires. If you’re not making the right choices, now is the time to make corrections.
4. Remember, we become what we repeatedly do. If we repeatedly procrastinate, we become a procrastinator. If we repeatedly work hard, we become a hard worker. Since the outcome of procrastination and hard work are completely different (failure or success), we have to carefully choose what we do.
5. Don’t give in to temptation. Instead control your feelings and desires. Heed these words of wisdom found in the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture, c. 400 BCE), “Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.” Here is more good advice, “Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both.” (Tryon Edwards, 1809 ~ 1894).
6. You probably can relate to these words of author Sondra Anice Barnes: “It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.” The lesson here is use empowering language. Don’t use words like have to, must, should, ought to, or have got to because they create resistance. No one wants to do what they HAVE TO, but everyone is willing to do what they WANT TO. So, don’t say “I have to study.” Instead say, “I want to study because the material will be helpful for my career and is interesting.” In a word, choose to use empowering language.
7. Sometimes, even if you use empowering language, you still won’t feel like doing something. If so, welcome it because if you really want to be successful you will need to develop self- discipline. Doing things you don’t feel like doing should be part of your daily routine. Remember, self-discipline is nothing less than the power to be, do, or have whatever you want in life. We need discipline not only to do what needs to be done, but also to avoid doing what mustn’t be none, such as procrastinate. In this regard, here is a teaching of the Chinese philosopher Mencius (Mengzi Meng-tse, c.370 ~ 300 BCE): “Only when someone refuses to do certain things will he be capable of doing great things.”
8. Focus on your goals because you cannot do, be, or have anything if you want to do, be, or have everything.
9. Ponder these words of Brian Tracy (www.briantracy.com): “It is not what you say or hope, wish or intend, but only what you do that counts. Your choices tell you unerringly who you really are.”
10. Don’t limit your choices to what only seems reasonable and possible. Stretch yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Ask again, “What do I REALLY want?” Choose to follow your dream.
Here’s a poem by Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959) that neatly summarizes the point of this article:
You are the person who has to decide.
Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside.
You are the person who makes up your mind.
Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind.
Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar.
Or just be contented to stay where you are.
The title of this article was a quote by Leo Buscaglia, so it’s appropriate that we end with his words as well, “Choose the way of life. Choose the way of love. Choose the way of caring. Choose the way of goodness. It’s up to you. It’s your choice.”
Life has dealt you your hand and now it is your move. What are you going to do?
For more information on this vital subject, see: