“The choices that we make in our life, indeed determine the kind of results that we experience and the quality of the life that we live. – Sumeet Jain
I’m at a local brewery with some of my favorite female friends. We’re all enjoying a brew and swapping funny or frustrating life stories. I share a recent happening. “So, the snake pooped in my daughter’s hair yesterday.” Giggles ensue, and I say the cliché, “Only me, right?” As if I’m some victim of a wild pooping snake invasion. No, of course it would only happen to me, because I’m the only crazy one in the bunch who bought her son a pet snake!
So often, life can feel out of control, and like it’s just happening to us. It’s true that there are many unpredictable events in life. Even the length of it can be outside of our control, but that only makes our choices even more important.
Choose the good
Since we can’t control everything, it’s imperative to be intentional with the things we can control. Our choices should accurately reflect who we are and where we are trying to go. Choose to input the things that are meaningful to your life.
As I noted in 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sunday, start with your values. If you value healthy eating, then is the choice your about to make for lunch in line with those values? If not, then stop playing the victim card, and saying “only me, right?”
Moreover, the “good” for you may not be the good for me. We each have different priorities and goals. We must start with our goals to ensure that our daily choices are moving us toward them. Is it more important to me to spend my free 30 minutes today reading a book or putting away laundry? Neither is inherently good or bad. I can tell you, I’ll be choosing the book. Some of you are shivering at the thought of leaving laundry undone. That’s fine, and of course, some things must get done. Practicing mindfulness in our daily choices, however, will render more empowerment over our lives.
Take back your power
If we constantly choose actions because of how others will perceive us, what others want us to do, or some other exterior motivation, then we will feel like a victim. Yes, my laundry has to get done, but when I was constantly choosing what might impress others over things that nourished my soul, I felt like a victim. But, that’s the beauty of it. This was not some life circumstance that was out of my control. I could make different choices!
If you are a victim to your life choices, there’s good news! You have the option to change.
Here’s how things get messed up, and I’m using healthy eating simply as an example.
I eat too much and too many unhealthy, processed foods. When I inevitably gain weight, I feel fat and unlovable; I lose energy, self-esteem, and motivation.
Now, I’ve created a life that I don’t want. The lie seeps in that “fat, lazy, and unlovable” are who I am. No, those are negative labels that I’ve assigned the outcome of my choices. None of those things came from the depths of my character. They came from poor choices, or choices not geared toward getting me a healthy body and more energy.
The same applies to our spiritual, professional, and social lives. We either change the choices we are making or accept the results those choices produce.
That’s how choices work
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, when I was a practicing attorney, I had a secretary who was appalled at how often I came to work with dog hair on my suit. Yes, I owned three big dogs, which was a choice that led to hairy suits. The best I could do to mitigate the situation was to invest in lint rollers, one for my office, car, purse, etc. Any place I could, I stashed a lint roller. See, much to my secretary’s dismay, getting rid of the dogs was not something I was willing to do. So, I just had to deal with the dog hair as best I could and move on. Perhaps, that’s why my legal career didn’t work out. I doubt it, but even if it is, I’m ok with that choice. Others might make another.
The point is not that we must change every decision that has a less-than-desirable side effect. Neither do we have to accept mediocrity and feelings of victimhood when we could change our circumstances.
The point is to work on meshing our choices with our values so that we feel empowered by the life we create rather than victimized.
I also endorse a healthy sense of humor to embrace the “snake poop” and “dog hair” of life! After all, no matter how mindful and intentional we become, life has its share of shit. Sometimes it’s best to not take things too seriously.
“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.” – Tony Robbins