“Life is choices.” This simple saying has been one of my dad’s favorites for as long as I can remember. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand and appreciate its deeper meaning, both in good times and bad.
Life unfolds one moment at a time. From moment to moment, we are making choices. There are obvious choices like what we say, what we eat and where we go and there are less obvious choices like what we think and what we focus on.
With this ability to choose comes great power to shape ourselves, our experiences, our lives, and those of others. This power comes with great responsibility to choose wisely and to choose consciously. There are times when we make choices that are in alignment with our best interest and there are times when we choose something that does more harm than good. There are also times when we are not even aware of the fact that we’re choosing.
So how do we go about choosing? Well, the first and most important thing is to know that we have a choice, that we are in fact choosing from one moment to the next and that we have the power to make a difference.
The next step is to examine what we are choosing. When you really break it down to the simplest of terms, there are really only ever two important choices being made in each moment. Are we choosing love or fear? And are we choosing to be present or to inhabit some thought about the past or future?
This can apply to any situation that life presents us and can inform how we go about choosing from moment to moment. When you’re driving and someone cuts you off, you can let it go and laugh it off or honk your horn, shout obscenities and give them the finger. That’s one of the more obvious ones. When someone you love says something hurtful to you in a moment of weakness, you can either forgive them and give them the benefit of the doubt or come back with a blow of your own – perhaps less obvious and certainly more challenging but it comes back to love and fear.
Similarly, when you wake up each morning you can focus on the gift of the new day ahead or you can get caught up in thoughts about yesterday’s grievances or tomorrow’s worries. You can take a deep, conscious breath and fully inhabit your body or you can jump out of bed and rush into the day. As you climb the mountain of your dreams, you can savor the view at each step or you can dwell on the wrong choices you made along the way and the distance separating you from the top.
We are constantly choosing. Do you say what you’re really feeling or what you think they want to hear? Do you reach out to the friend you miss and haven’t spoken to in a long time or do you wait for them to call you? Do you really listen to the person talking to you or do you get caught up in thoughts about some other time and place? Do you go to the gym today or can it wait until tomorrow? Do you have that smoke, that drink or that piece of cake or do you stick with your commitment to your health? Do you take the risk and go after your dream or keep the job that will guarantee the bills get paid?
The list of choices is endless, but the point is that you get to choose and it always comes down to love or fear, present moment, past or future.
It’s your life and your choice. Choose love. Choose to be present. This moment is all we ever have.
Written for The Daily Love (Nov. 6th, 2011)