“What do you choose?” has been the mantra, growing in size, for myself, and my family, or at least all of 2015. I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning – how simply being aware of CHOICE can drastically change your daily life.
Here is what we will be looking at:
- Every moment has choices.
- Why we unconsciously don’t want to make better choices.
- How awareness can help you make the most optimal choices.
- How we respond to our choices is just as impactful as the choices we make.
Every moment has choices
Each action we take, or word we say (or not), is a choice! This is empowering because it means what lies before us is a lot more in our power than we may think – our power lies in the now.
I struggle to make good choices in the moment. I am not alone in my struggle with this process. My almost five year old has been learning that each choice has natural consequences, and to choose something sometimes requires prior planning and effort. I see all the children in my life in the choice making process — as an ongoing battle. I witness my adult relatives making choices in their health that effect more people than they realize. My spouse and I sigh in frustration as we clean the kitchen yet again. Do you struggle some days with: “Why did I just do that?” or “Why do I have to do everything around here?” or “I don’t like yelling at my kids.” Taking a deep breath is easier said than done. So often taking a millisecond to make the smarter choice does NOT sound appealing or seem an option.
As with all things that pass through my brain, I focus my thinking on choice as a health and happiness issue. I see so many ways that a simple choice, either immediate or long-term, could (often easily) bring more health and happiness to myself and my family — and yet I watch myself not take those actions. I choose instead: the harder way, the negative, the more stress, the fighting stance. I see my daughter wanting one thing so badly and almost beyond her control choosing to serve the time and lose the prize, which is such an exhausting battle. Why? What is the reasoning behind some of our not-so-optimal choices?
The immediate and most obvious answer to why we don’t make certain choices that could better our health and happiness may be that we just don’t know better. We aren’t aware, we aren’t awake, we aren’t ready or willing to see or haven’t seen. But I don’t think that excuses us from learning in each moment. So I encourage you to be open to more, to the gentlest path, and trust that there is so much more than you know now. This is why I and so many others share wisdom, why we all must share our personal wisdom, with an open mind – because we cannot as an individual know it all.
Another reason, almost as obvious, that we make poor choices, is the fact that we are human. We make mistakes. As great as our species is, the amount of amazing, positive strides we have taken, the word human-ness still and always conjures up feelings of inadequacy and failure. (This notion had Easter hit me hard this year – so many human choices made in that story. So much of Jesus’ life I could not imagine choosing.) This human-ness is not an excuse either, though, for we don’t want to use it to allow us to keep making mistakes or to keep us from shining our brightest. Love allows us to grow, fear keeps us still.
A last reason we make choices we aren’t proud of is one that we hide behind. We tell ourselves “I don’t have time”, “It doesn’t work I’ve tried,” “It is too hard/scary”, “It’s not my fault they are the problem,” and “Why should I work so hard and not others?” This is our protective ego, looking out for self with familiarity. The truth, what we don’t want to admit, is there is something else that each of our choices gives us that is somehow more important than the choices we don’t make: comfort, belonging, self-validation, we can remain a victim, we don’t have to change, we want what we want, we can be in control, avoidance of the scary realization that we have more responsibility for the whole of our life than we want to admit or work for, and avoiding whatever the alternate choice brings – because it is scary, even if good.
Boo. I want more health and happiness for myself and my family, I want it for you and your family. So here I am.
I don’t want to discredit some of those things our less-noble choices give us that are valuable to our ego, but simply want to bring light to the fact that they are not typically the most selfless acts and that there are more than likely new healthier options to give us the same benefits – that’s why those choices don’t sit with us right and why we know deep down “we should have” done better. I yell at my kids because it works, but it doesn’t work better. I eat chocolate because it’s enjoyment relaxes me, but it doesn’t give me the most ideal benefits.
I challenge… no, too confrontational… I implore, encourage and motivate and support, you (along with myself) to meet your spirit in your choices and let it grow and shine as it truly wants to.
Start to grow an awareness of your choices moment by moment – in your household, your job, your children, dinner, how you communicate….
- Notice what you are choosing in each moment (start with one moment a day)
- Watch HOW you have chosen it – fully or not?
- Is that choice an investment in the past, now, or later?
- Remind yourself WHY or even THAT you chose it. Forgive, let go, take care, make effort, learn over and over and over. And be thankful for the choices you are proud of.
Your Perspective – shifts.
It is all there is. Our perspective is what makes us different from everyone else, and is what makes our version ‘our truth’ not ‘the truth’. When it shifts, the choice we thought was bad is forgivable or even right, or the choice we thought was great was really self-serving and only temporary, or we see another choice all together, or we reaffirm in a motivating way all the places we desire better choices, or maybe we simply see that we weren’t owning our choices in a positive way.
Help make better choices to deepen your shift:
- Own your choices with a perspective of “for the most optimal health and happiness of all”.
- Be the one to step out and set the example.
- Not “why me” but “of course me”.
- Make an effort to best achieve each choice
- Make a small change for the better: get up five minutes earlier or got to bed five min early, let your kid win one battle that really doesn’t matter in the big picture.
- Stick to a commitment you don’t want to.
- Wear a smile on your way to work.
- Research alternate healing.
- Take a relaxing bath.
- Take another angle when looking at your tot’s/teen’s behavior.
What DO you choose? What kind of person are you telling the world and your loved ones that you are through your choices in each moment and your reaction to those choices? YOU CAN take ownership for your choices! Every moment – with awareness, one by one! One moment can set off a chain-reaction of more “best” choices. Pray about yours, and your family’s, daily choices – support is there if you look. I hope your days get easier and you find confidence in yourself. I hope you get a fresh perspective that shows you how great life is.
I’ve had another choice mantra above my desk for the past seven years that has said “Do it fully or don’t do it at all,” which reminds me of the fact that I have a choice on not only what I spend my time on but how. I struggle sometimes to remember that I chose to do certain things and yet I complain about them. I forget that there in some circumstances there is another choice that works for everyone’s better benefit and I pick the one that serves my own needs. I am constantly in discussion with myself over which is more important in my daily actions and relations: the immediate or the long-term. I don’t always pick the peaceful, healthy choice but I pick the comforting habit. I choose now to raise my choice awareness, and start making peaceful, loving choices that are not just for myself – because I know we all deserve better and this one act can help make the world a better place. I know I’ll make mistakes along the way, but I also know that a simple awareness and desire will keep me heading in the direction that creates the most light.