Get ready for this:
In your life, you are where you are, because that is where you decided to be.
Some people might stop reading this article after that statement. But, if you’re still with me, check this out, because it is incredibly empowering.
Everyday, we make decisions, hundreds of them. Even though not everyday feels like it, we are presented with options, constantly. There are options on what we will eat, who we will talk to and how we will talk to them. We decide which way we drive to work and how we will respect the others on the road with us. Over and over, we decide how we are going to act and react. We even decide how we will respond and feel about the actions that are made by others.
Each decision is an elimination process. Even the word itself contains the Latin root cis which means ‘to cut.’ Think about it. When we say yes to one option, we have essentially said no to a dozen or more other options. What are we cutting away with our current decisions?
When we pull out our phones in a group, we have decided to not give those in front of us our attention.
When we do not prepare a healthy meal for ourselves ahead of time, we narrow our choices for the next day. Then, we choose a low grade, fast food meal when pinched for time.
When we decide to flop in the recliner and binge re-runs on the internet, we have decided to not exercise, get outside, meet up with a friend or go learn something new.
As first responders, when we are faced with a stranger’s emergency we also choose how we will respond. Will we respond humanely with empathy, calm and respect? Or will we be impatient, indifferent and cold machines?
Work, relationships, our own internal moods; they are all the sum of our decisions.
We decide if something is an obstacle to move forward or rather a challenge to make us stronger.
We decide that we are going to bring the best attitudes to our work rather than become cynical and apathetic.
We decide to ride the status quo or we choose to push ourselves and others to change.
We decide to extend a hand of help to another or to turn our gaze and continue on our way.
We decide that we will take the steps, consistently, to better our craft rather than remain mediocre. Or, we decide to do nothing. In-action is also a decision.
“What we are not changing, we are choosing.”
- Laurie Buchanan
Most powerfully, we decide, the ultimate meaning of anything that presents itself to us in life.
Need some inspiration on that last one? Look to the wounded, limbless veterans that are literally climbing mountains and running marathons. Look to the grieving mothers of sons and daughters lost to drunk drivers that formed a national movement and changed the face of justice and awareness for over 3 decades. Look to the millions of our neighbors with cancer that wrapped themselves in the title ‘survivor,’ rather than ‘patient’ or ‘victim.’
A personal favorite of mine and a must-read book recommendation- look to the words of Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.”
- Man’s Search for Meaning
As a project for today, take some time to evaluate your decision patterns.
Are your decisions taking you down a life path that you chose for yourself?
Are your decisions that affect your family, neighbors, or coworkers mutually beneficial?
Are you elevating those around you? Are you giving yourself enough credit?
Are you deciding with the end in mind? Or are you only focused on the means?
Are your decisions in alignment with what you believe? Will you be proud of these decisions tomorrow, next year, or in 30 years when reflecting on your life?
Why is all of this important?
When it is all said and done, the sum of our decisions is what creates our individual characters, good, bad or otherwise. Group together all of our characters and we have our culture; at home, work and in the community.
Culture influences the future decisions of its individuals.
Want to create change in the world around you? It’s your decision.