“Life is a choice.” ~Unknown
I’ve recently realized that life is a never-ending stream of choices, even when you think you don’t have many options.
Some look insignificant on their own but somehow manage to contribute to a massive whole. Others can feel overwhelming, and you don’t always realize when you make them what the consequences will be—how they’ll shape your life story.
The biggest decision I’ve made in the past six months is to return to university and complete the MA Creative Writing course I began two years ago. It’s almost a choice I never made—a life I never had—though it leads to the future I’ve dreamed about for years.
Good stories aren’t about people; they’re about action. They’re about what people do and what happens when they do these things.
What we do is based upon the choices we make, whether it be in our everyday efforts to keep on top of our washing or in the extraordinary moments when we decide to take that job offer, even though friends and family don’t understand because it’s less money (but a lot more fun).
Over a year ago my ‘action’ was to intermit my studies because I needed to get my health under control. I was hoping the decision of whether or not to return would pass me by like the summer had already done and relieve me of the burden of having to consider my options.
I could still be sitting here now avoiding a decision. Instead, I found the strength to make a choice, and in doing so, I’ve discovered my health problems haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still there, and they’re still creating challenges I can either meet or run away from. Action not only drives us but also reveals us.
Even on my first day back, I had a choice: freak-out or chill-out. Two years ago I would have freaked out completely and done a lot of damage to myself in the process. That day, all of those feelings—fear, paranoia, nausea, panic, irritation, hyper-active excitement, bewilderment, self-loathing, depression—all of them were lined up and waiting for me.
My breathing kicked in just like I’d practiced in meditation and I thought, “No, actually. I won’t choose any of you to wear today. I’ll acknowledge you and observe you but I won’t put on any of you even though you’re all so kind to insist.”
I didn’t exactly chill out but then I didn’t freak out either. I found an attentive, mindful middle-ground instead.
I originally believed that a year out would cure me of my problems, but I was mistaken. It wasn’t until I chose to use the time well that the decision propelled my life forward in a positive way. I couldn’t use the time off to heal my fatigue, but I could use it to learn how to choose which mental outfit I’d like to don on any given day.
Even when I felt trapped in a difficult situation I had a choice that could change my life.
It may not always seem like we have a lot of choices, but we do, every day in small and large ways.
With that in mind, I’ve made a list of the choices we can all make every day:
- Choose to smile.
- Choose to not let your boss get you down.
- Choose to understand other people, even if they seem like the most awful people alive.
- Choose to be confident.
- Choose to not be scared.
- Choose to be who you are, not who someone says you should be.
- Choose to dream.
- Choose to believe in the good we’re all capable of.
- Choose to know that we all hold darkness within us.
- Choose to ask the questions that challenge rigid assumptions.
- Choose to walk away.
- Choose to take a risk.
- Choose to reconnect with those you thought you’d lost.
- Choose to open your heart and forgive.
- Choose to remember those you miss.
- Choose to keep living even though it seems impossible at times.
- Choose to move on from everything that makes you miserable.
- Choose to be strong.
- Choose to go out there and achieve your desires.
- Choose to defy.
- Choose to do the right thing.
- Choose to do the wrong thing.
- Choose to laugh.
- Choose to be happy.
Have any positive choices to add to the list?
Photo by tastygoldfish
About Sam Russell
Sam Russell is a young writer from the southeastern corner of the UK. He’s a cynic by nature trying to prove that cynics can be happy and positive, too. Visit his blog at http://cackhanded.wordpress.com/.