Thursday, May 21, 2009

A word on choices

Today's topic is choices--one of my absolute most favorite things in the world. Choices are at the root of human existence; without them we would live life as a dream and no one would ever know or care that we existed. Our choices define us. Choices are the source and the fruits of variety, which we all know is the spice of life.

Unfortunately, it is exactly this weight attached to choices that creates such a love-hate relationship between us and the decisions we get to make every day. The wrong choice could prove disastrous and destroy something precious to us. Many times we avoid making decisions because we are afraid of making the wrong choice. If we put off the decision we can avoid the consequences for a while. Someone else might even make the decision for us.

What we often fail to realize, though, is that this kind of fearful attitude is exactly what leads to the bad outcomes we are hoping to avoid. To take it a step further, I believe that worrying about outcomes at all is what leads to bad outcomes. By focusing on what could happen rather than what is currently happening we fail to pay attention to the signs around us that could lead to correct choices.

When making a decision, it is easy to play the "What if..." game and worry about all the possible results of each decision. But the very nature of possibilities is that they are never 100% and therefore always unpredictable. We cannot know them, therefore we cannot control them. We cannot control them, therefore we must not waste time brooding over them.

What, then, should we do when making a decision? I don't have a simple answer to this question. At the least I suggest looking at the clues you have available to yourself. What do your feelings tell you? Does choice 1 make you feel joy? Does choice 2 make you feel guilty?

If you don't like the idea of trusting feelings (especially if you are one that always feels fear regardless ofvthe options), then there is still intuition, the higher self, the Holy Ghost, the divine, etc. Whatever you want to call it, it is there and it is extremely wise. You might argue that it is the same thing as feelings, but anyone familiar with it knows that there is a difference. It is usually a matter of looking for it and then exercising it for people to recognize it.

To be honest, almost all of the choices we get to make everyday do not have a wrong and right option and are not that consequential. The most important thing we can do with these choices is to commit to an option and stand by it. The biggest mistake we can make when choosing is allowing the decision to become more important than it really is.

Make a decision and move on--even if the result is not what you were hoping for. Remember, happiness doesn't come from getting the results you wanted. It comes from being at peace with your choices. Many people that fail at one endeavour after another in life still consider themselves lucky and happy because they enjoyed what they were doing and didn't stress the results.

That being said, don't think I'm telling you that you can do any dumb thing and that is okay as long as you decided it was. There are obvious rights and wrongs that will have obvious consequences (a topic all by itself). But when the answer isn't obvious, you can bet that going with your feelings and intuition will always result in peace and happiness. Doubting and worrying about results will always result in misery. So go out into life and remember that joy is in the journey, not the destination (paraphrased from Greg Anderson, not to be confused with this guy or this guy).

EDIT: I wrote most of this post last night and finished it up today. Then I read a fantastic post written by Jason Mraz, one of my personal heroes. It is a great perspective from a fantastically successful and optimistic person that is nonetheless human on the inside, and I feel like it meshes with what I'm trying to say. Read it here.