“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Dedicate today to the power of choice. Your choice. You can’t choose everything that you experience in life, but what you can choose is mightier than any circumstance, outcome, or other person’s opinion.
Where you focus your mind, how you use your words, and how you treat yourself and others are all up to you. One chapter at a time, you write your own story.
We all have the power to choose what we absorb and what we release. We ultimately decide what we share, what we keep, and what we let go. How long we stay mad and how long we wait to reach for hope, when we say yes and when we say no, and how long we say only what others want to hear are all up to us. Whether we see the world with gratitude or resentment begins with a choice.
It’s not that anyone chooses pain, though. I can’t think of a single person who’d choose despair or insecurity. No one elects shame to be their shadow. Not even boredom is a choice. We just forget our power sometimes or maybe underestimate the power of our intentions.
For me, forgetting is a quick slide into control or fear. Every doubt, complaint, and fear leads me directly to more to doubt, complain about, and fear. The pressure builds. Tension rises. And even then, as much as I hate to admit it when I’m steeping in it, I have a choice.
I can choose how closely I pay attention to my thoughts and how I respond to what I feel. Even if hours go by, days, years, it’s never too late to make a different choice.
My husband will be the first to tell you that I can hold on to things. I spent months holding on to a comment a friend made about my writing. I mentioned to her that I felt stuck on a project, and she told me, “It’s not it’s like real work. You don’t actually have to do it.”
I was seething when she said this but didn’t say a word about it to her. I’d let the comment go for a few days, saying “it’s fine,” but as soon as her name came up? That was all I could think about.
I can go even further back than that. When I was about six, a little boy on the bus called me a hag. It may seem like a small thing for first graders to tease each other, but I cannot tell you how many ways that one comment has worked its way into my self-image since then. At times I thought it was hopelessly stuck in my psyche. And still, thirty years later, I somehow made the choice to process and resolve that memory.
It’s never too late to choose.
When I remember the power of my intention, no matter how long it takes me, I come back home to myself with deepened perspective and goodwill. My choices soften the anger, fear, and sorrow I once felt. Remembering my power to choose restores the gentleness in my step and words. I see a completely new world around me.
From that place of remembering, all the positive, empowering choices available to me emerge from the mental fog. I can choose to ask a question, solve a problem, or call for help. I can choose to take a walk, meditate, have a snack, water the flowers, or count my blessings.
Each positive step leads to more and more positive choices.
So many things are out of my control, and I’m learning to let go of wanting it to be otherwise. I understand now that this only happens through my choice.
I’ve historically wanted to follow a plan, not go with the flow. And I’ve depended on those plans going off without a hitch to feel safe.
Here’s an example: When my husband mentioned finding a new job a few years back, I wanted to know all the details. No, I wanted more than that. I wanted to be so involved in the process that I knew exactly what was going on. When he didn’t get a new job, I wanted to know why and what this meant.
Of course, life doesn’t work that way, and by hanging my security on details I couldn’t control, I gave away my own power.
When I could acknowledge that pattern, I opened myself up to choosing differently. If I want more certainty, I can choose to look for the things I trust like my values, strengths, and the learning process rather than the things that could go wrong. If I want to feel more at peace, I can choose to speak to myself with more kindness not more criticism. Above all else, I can choose to have my own back no matter what.
What I’m learning from this is there’s so much to be deliberate about and so many ways to choose.
You can choose to set a small boundary when you’re exhausted from keeping the peace.
I choose to be true to myself. May my honesty restore what’s been depleted.
You can choose to broadcast loving-kindness when you see the images of suffering in the news.
May all beings be safe from harm. May all beings return to peace. May all beings find freedom.
You can choose to acknowledge our shared human experience when you feel most alone.
In this moment, I remember that in my joy and suffering, I am connected to all of humankind.
And when you’re on top of the world, you can choose to bask in it.
I dedicate this moment to the deep gratitude I feel. I choose to delight in this joy today.
There’s always something you can choose. So, choose soothing, however you’re able. Choose to look for things to feel good about. And if nothing else, choose to be as intentional as you can. Always with acceptance for the part of you that forgets.
Starting now, starting small, remind yourself of your power to choose. Here’s how:
Begin with yourself.
Offer whatever you have on you right now—your beating heart, your breath, your hands, your eyes reading these words—to your power to choose. With that power, dedicate this moment in time to your health or happiness, to a new story, or anything that resonates with you.
I dedicate this breath to my happiness.
I dedicate this day to my health.
With every word I read, may I remember my power to choose.
From there, if you feel inspired, add on to it with another choice: Take a positive step that supports your health and happiness. Make plans to do the same tomorrow.
If no step calls out to you, that’s okay. Smile and thank yourself for this choice all the same.
Next, focus your power to choose on someone you love.
For just a moment, offer whatever is within reach to them.
I dedicate this hour to the people I love the most. May the beating of my heart bestow health, happiness, and security upon them.
Again, build on this intention with a choice if it feels right. Pick up the phone, lend a helping hand, or send a quick text.
If no action is needed or accessible now, that’s okay. Smile and imagine them receiving your dedication all the same.
You can extend your power to choose as far out as you like.
Dedicate every step you take crossing the street to the well-being of all passersby. Then, add on as appropriate with another choice. Smile at them. Make eye contact. Mentally send them positive wishes for their day.
Devote your commute today to bringing harmony to a challenging relationship. If it feels accessible, make another choice. List their positive traits. Name one way you could respond differently. Forgive if you’re able and willing. If nothing else, choose to be alert to how your attention feeds your internal experience of conflict and choose to nurture something new.
With your power to choose, give a voice to your deepest wishes for the planet and all who inhabit it. Go as big as you like.
I dedicate my words today to the message of love. May all who I encounter receive this message and help me spread it through their words. May this message proliferate and reach all beings.
I send my love to the planet. May I aid in the purification of the air, the restoration of our oceans, and the health of all creatures in whatever way is available to me today.
And then, take whatever action presents itself to you. If no action is available, that’s okay. Smile and know that you’ve strengthened your power to choose all the same.
If a choice resonates with you, stay with it. Work with it for as long as it feels right. It could be a day, a week, a month, or more. Expand on it with more choices as is appropriate for you in your current situation.
Pay attention to what happens as you practice this. Perhaps you’ll notice new ideas flowing more easily. Maybe you’ll feel motivated to take a positive step you’ve put off for a while. If all that happens is feeling more awake and empowered, then it’s well worth the effort!
No matter what arises in your day or in your heart, remember there’s always something you can choose. May we all remember the power we have.