There are probably tens of thousands of changes we can make in our behavior and thought patterns that can influence our lives. Maybe hundreds of thousands or even millions.
But of all the changes we can make, understanding and acting on the power of choice is probably the single most important thing we can do to influence what our lives ultimately look like.
Every waking minute of each day, each of us are making a choice – whether we are aware or unaware.
We choose to eat pizza and eat too much of it rather than opting for a healthier meal.
We choose to waste hours in front of our televisions or computers rather than spending the time more productively or engaging in activities we actually really enjoy.
We choose to let ourselves feel stressed and bear the physical, mental and emotional consequences of stress rather than focusing on solutions.
We choose who to date, who to marry, who to be friends with, who and what gets our precious time.
We choose to let days pass without engaging in some kind of physical activity and let our bodies become softer instead of stronger.
Ultimately our lives are a reflection of the sum of our choices.
Let’s take a look at what the word choice means:
The Merriam Webster dictionary offers 6 definitions for the word “choice”.. the first 5 being relevant here.
1 : the act of choosing : selection <finding it hard to make a choice>
2 : power of choosing : option <you have no choice>
3a : the best part : cream
3b : a person or thing chosen <she was their first choice>
4 : a number and variety to choose among <a plan with a wide choice of options>
5 : care in selecting
How do these definitions differ from the way most people make choices?
For one, all of these definitions infer that choice and choosing is something we consciously do. However for most people, the majority of their choices are made from a state of unawareness.
We go to our favorite restaurant and even without looking at a menu, we know what we want. The French onion soup is divine as is the fettuccine alfredo. The people you are dining with mention chicken wings and you split an appetizer of them – of course with ranch dressing to dip them in.
We’ve made 4 choices – and bad ones if done on a regular basis – and likely without consideration other than what tastes best.
How we feel afterwards, what it does to our bodies… the things we should be more concerned with… are often far from our thoughts.
Some of us may feel a pang of guilt. We may be entirely aware that these aren’t the true best choices but often the guilt will disappear after we consume the first bite if not before. This isn’t to say we may not regret it afterwards but we’d likely still say that it was so delicious, it was worth it.
I think truly understanding the power of choice – especially when it comes to attitudes – represented a major shift in my life.
What do you think? Do you make an effort to live your life from a place of awareness when it comes to choices?
Photograph by rizkapb