It was my birthday a few days ago, always a time when I take a moment to think about the year. We're nearly halfway through this one already.
For those of you who've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a big fan of picking a word for the year, more so than making resolutions.
My word last year was to say "Yes. Yes to anything," things that I thought I wouldn't enjoy--last-minute invitations, things that scared me, you get the picture--and I was stretched way out of my comfort zone. But, to me, that's a great thing. So this year, my word was "Allow. Allow things to happen more than make them happen." Push, strive, control, act. I've done a lot of that and it's served me well. But I also see the power of allowing myself to receive, to sit back and open up to what life is trying to give me.
Then my birthday rolled around a few days ago and I really wanted to have another word as my focus for the second half of this year. "Choice." I am so incredibly present to the fact that we really do get to choose so much of what we live through. We choose to stay in a relationship, or a job that no longer serves us. We choose to continue to be overweight. We really believe there is no choice, no alternative to what we're doing at the moment. It's just not possible to do anything else! We are in jail, trapped! We choose to live in places we dislike. We choose to continue eating badly. We choose to lie. We choose to be busy, busy, busy. We choose not to go to the gym. We choose to watch TV.
I keep reminding myself that we can choose joy. We can choose to let go of our excuses. We can choose to stop telling everyone the story of why something has or hasn't happened. (It's family, genetics, the economy.) We can choose not to check email for a few hours. We can choose very different ways of living. We can choose to take a day off. Yes, society will impose its structures, its beliefs, tell you that you are not really free. Even the Buddha picked up from a perfect life of luxury, being a prince, married with a child and left to go contemplate life. Alone. Poor.
This concept of really being free to choose is very hard to grasp when so much of our lives seem planned, organized, structured. Yes you can leave a job. Yes you can go back to school. Yes you can write a book. Yes you can leave a loveless marriage even when you have kids. Our lives are determined by the choices we make. We all know people who are born with life working against them yet they make choices to have an extraordinary life.
Most of us have bought into why we cannot be, do or have something. It's time for us really to look at those reasons. Many of us will say, "ah but what about the money?" True, it's easy for folks to make serious choices when they have money. Most regrets and failures in life have nothing to do with money. Ask anyone who regrets something. They regret not getting divorced. They regret not going back to school. They regret not traveling. They regret not pursuing their dream. They regret not living somewhere else. They regret not telling someone they loved him/her.
You can choose to have your reasons or you can choose to have the life that deep down you are longing for. Big choices, for instance, often start with smaller ones. Start being conscious of all the opportunities you have to make a choice. Here are a few basic choices most of us face each day:
* what should I have for breakfast?
* what should I say to myself when I look in the mirror?
* what should I wear?
* am I being kind or rude?
* am I going to go to the gym?
* am I smiling or not?
* should I take this phone call?
* should I take the elevator or the stairs?
People are happier because day by day they make better choices with what life gives them. For the next 24 hours, simply notice all the choices you get to make!