One way of looking at life is to see it as a daily series of choices. In fact, that's the healthiest and most venturesome way I can think of for starting each day. From the time we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night, we're making choices. If we're not, then someone or something else is making them for us.
It always amazes me how strongly people will argue when told they do everything by choice. They're so stuck on the "have-to" philosophy of life, it's hard for them to let go. I was teaching this concept recently to some high-school seniors in an elective psychology class. The example I used was "You chose to come to class this morning." I would have bet a month's salary that I could predict the first response. And, sure enough, it came. One of my favorite kids in the class said, "No way, man. I had to come to class." "No, you didn't," I said. "You chose to come." He then proceeded to reel off all the horrible things that would happen to him if he didn't attend class: the school would call his parents, he'd get yelled at home, he might get grounded, he'd get caught by the vice-principal, his grade would go down, etc.
When he was through, I said, "Right! You made a choice. You chose to come to class instead of choosing the consequences of not coming. But you were still free to make that choice. Some of your classmates aren't here. For a variety of reasons, they chose not to come this morning. Maybe someone chose to get some extra sleep or take the whole day off. Maybe someone else chose to go to the donut shop. But you chose to be here."
At any given moment, we're free to choose what to think and what to do. God gave us a free will. No one can take it away from us. We can alter the course of our lives any time we want, because whatever we do, we do by choice. We can say we have to do things or that we're forced to, but the truth is that we do what we choose to do. It's a simple yet great discovery. Because once we realize that we do things by choice, we begin to accept greater responsibility for our own lives and to take more effective control over them. We're the results of our choices.
We Get to Make
It wasn't our choice to be born into the world. And it's not our choice that someday we're going to die. However, the period in between, the one we call life, presents us with countless choices. There are some obvious ones due to the nature of our society. We can choose our friends, careers, lifestyles, political affiliations, faith, where to live, what kind of car to drive, and what kind of music to listen to. But there are some other choices which, while less obvious, are far more important. We're either unaware of them or just don't give them much thought. Yet, they're the choices that determine the quality of our lives. Based on what life has taught me, these are what I consider to be our most important choices:
We're Always Choosing
Much of our potential goes to waste simply because it's never used, just like the battery that corrodes or the muscle that atrophies after lying dormant for too long. Most of the time, we fail to exercise our choices because we're not aware of having them. Yet, those choices are available to us every day of our lives. We can make changes in minor aspects of our life, or we can change our entire lifestyle just by making different choices. We can teach ourselves to deal more effectively with both circumstances and with people. In fact, we can change almost anything we do if we're aware of our choices and if our desire is strong enough.