Friday, July 30, 2010

Choosing joy

I see life as a series of choices. Much like Frost's poem The Road Not Taken, I think throughout life we all have a series of choices to make. The problem with choices is having to live with the consequences, of course.

To use myself as an example: I try to remember that I'm single because I chose not to accept any of the guys who came along, for what I considered good reasons at that point in time. Sure, I have no control over whether I'll get to meet someone I'd consider a "good fit" (for lack of a better term), but in a way, it's still my choice to be single right at this moment.

"But," you might say, "sometimes we have no choice!" Thus the saying that you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. In such a case... we have a choice in how we respond to the person or situation, right? As such, I don't believe there's ever a time when one truly has no choice whatsoever.

So sometimes, I hear people complain, and I think: That was your choice. Friends gripe about their jobs, but continue to stay in a place that they claim makes them miserable. While I empathise with their distress, I find their sense of helplessness puzzling, because the power is in their hands: They chose to take the job, and with every passing day, they're renewing their choice to stay on at the company. Of course, this can be a rather simplistic view if you factor in financial responsibilities, especially in cases where there's a family to feed and a mortgage to finance. But even if one chooses to stay at a job for those reasons, the fact is, you've still made a choice.

The thing is, we often look at our choices and think we have no choice at all. Rejecting one choice for another because the former looked unpalatable or impossible doesn't diminish the fact that a choice has been made. I like thinking this way because it means I'm responsible for my own well-being and happiness. It means I'm not giving anyone the power to make me unhappy. Unfortunately, it also means that if I'm unhappy, I only have myself to blame!

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