Part of your wisdom portfolio
Isn’t it astonishing that we can actually choose what to think, how to feel and what to do?
We make decisions and act on them daily, every hour and minute. Large decisions stand out in our minds, but if we observe ourselves closely for a while, we’ll see the many little choices we make inattentively.
Somehow, nature and evolution have armed us with this power. It is an astonishing part of the incredible reality of life. Or perhaps it is inseparable from life as we know it. It could be essential for survival and evolution, within and across generations (although the largest mass of creatures on the planet — plants — seem to flourish without choosing, as far as we can see).
When certain things happen in the external world, we sense them, feel emotions, think, and decide to do something, even if it is to do nothing. In other cases, we seem to go directly and almost instantly from sensing and feeling to action.
Both sequences have names in psychiatry, but we recognise these patterns without formality. And they can be good and bad. Sometimes, after an event, we feel we could have reacted otherwise, thought differently and done something else.
And the fact is, somehow, still unexplained by science, we could have. We could have found out more. We could have cheered up with music. We could have paused to consider other options. We could have indeed done something better. All we had to do was use the gift bestowed on us by nature — free will.
Imagine what a miserable existence it would be if we couldn’t choose. We would be condemned to carry out immutable sequences, trapped, simultaneously subject and object, watcher and watched.
Freedom is choice. Choice is freedom.
What’s past cannot be changed. So the brilliant thing for us is to recognise that we constantly have the precious treasure of choice at our disposal.
Large factors have affected our life, like where, when, and to whom we were born. But we were also endowed with the ability to shape our destiny, and most of us can transcend the limitations of birth.
Let’s use the strength given to us of being able to see the possibilities, examine them and decide for ourselves. It sets us apart and makes us better.
Let’s recite this whenever we feel lost —
From the sparkling raindrops of daily choice,
Flows the cheerful stream of a well-lived life.