You are Your Choices

I’m going to make a statement that some people are going to take exception with, but please continue reading and hear me out. The statement is this: Where you are in your life, everything you have and everything you are experiencing are the direct result of the choices you have made in your life. You are the sum total of all the choices you have ever made.
There is no such thing as an inconsequential choice. Every choice we make acts like a pebble dropped into a pond. It sends out ripples in every direction They touch and affect everything in their path and once you drop that pebble, you can’t take it back.
Last fall when I was recovering from my medical disaster, I had two months with nothing to do but lie on my back staring at the ceiling and think. I have to tell you that there’s nothing like dying several times to get you to take stock and begin to be totally honest with yourself. I took stock of my life and the affect I have had on people and the world around me. Overall, I was pretty satisfied. I had a successful military career. I had a promising career in private industry which I gave up to return to school to become a successful mental health clinician. But I also had time to reflect on the harm and sorrow I had caused to others; mostly unintentional, but the effect on these people was still negative.
I then started working backward from the present trying to deconstruct the circumstances that led to my present situation and I realized that practically everything that ever happened to me and practically everything I am right now was the result of the choices I had made. Because as I said earlier, there is no such thing as an inconsequential choice. It is simple cause and effect.
Think of it like a game of chess. At the start, before anyone has made a move, the universe of possible moves is infinite. Then one player makes a move, say advancing a pawn to king-4. That one simple move has now diminished the pool of possible moves. The next player makes their move, and the pool of possible moves is decreased even further. This continues, move after move, each choice making the universe of possibilities smaller and smaller until there comes a point where the outcome is inevitable. Anyone who knows the game and is observant can see the outcome of the game many moves in advance. So it is with life. Every choice we make sets unforeseen forces in motion and limits the pool of our possible future choices until the result of our choices becomes inevitable.
I may contradict myself now, but I admit that not everything that happens to us is a direct result of our choices. For example, there weren’t too many choices that I could have made that would result in my getting prostate cancer; it just happened. Life throws us a lot of random events that we had nothing to do with. However, the important thing to remember is that while we often can’t help what happens to us, we ALWAYS have the choice as to how we’re going to react and deal with the situation. Some choices will solve the problem and some choices will make the situation worse. The choice is yours.
So, the point of this essay and what I hope you take away from it is, that if we want to be successful and happy, we need to be more mindful and deliberate in our choices. If given the choice of making someone happy or not, please chose the former. If given the choice of doing something positive or even neutral, please choose the positive action, even if there’s no discernable immediate benefit to you.
In the East they call it Karma. As a scientifically minded Westerner, I prefer to call it cause and effect. But whatever you call it, choose wisely.
I hope you choose to have an intentionally great day.

By | 2014-06-16T10:32:59-04:00 June 16th, 2014|Cancer, Principles|0 Comments

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