I first saw this quote at a friend’s house several years ago. I don’t know who said it but it’s one of those things that you don’t think much about, at the time, but it keeps coming back to you. For me it was reoccurring as I’ve had to adjust to events that were beyond my control. Some were serious challenges, such as losing a loved one. Others were less so. I know that I’m not alone. Life is like that. We lose jobs. We lose some we love. We end a marriage or a friendship.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Adjusting our sails means making choices. Often these choices are not easy, but ultimately it’s easier than trying to change the direction of the wind.
We make choices every day! Sometimes we make them consciously and with good thought but too often we make them without solid thought. AND, sometimes we make choices by making no conscious choice at all.
To take no action is in and of itself is making a choice. By making no choice, we leave the outcome to fate or worse; to the whims of others. And, it is this that leads us to feel like victims and powerless. Eventually it leads to martyrdom.
To make life choices, there are some clear things we can do. We need to know ourselves. What are our priorities? What is important to you? Are you staying a job because it is working for you or because you don’t know what else to do? Are you choosing or are you just stuck? What would you have to give up to make a different choice? What would you gain? Yes, that is reality! Choices do not come without a price. Only after you look at life in this way can you really see it as a choice
So, you might say “How do we make choices when life intervenes and things we didn’t plan happen?” Well, first, we don’t have to wait to have a catastrophic event to pay attention to making choices. After all, practice makes perfect. If you become aware of the choices you make in everyday life and how they impact you, you will become more aware of your ability to make choices in the rough times.
We can only make choices when we realize that we have them and we can only do that when we are ready to deal with reality.
And yes, that is sometimes unpleasant, even painful. Having choices does not mean that things are easy or that we will always be happy with them. Life is give and take and so are our choices. Sometimes our first choice is not even on the list. We may not even like most of the choices available. So, we too often tend to think we have no choice at all
But, we always have choices! If nothing else, we can choose how to respond to the life events over which we had no choice. If you lose a job, you can choose to see this as a defeat or as an opportunity. You can feel sorry for yourself or you can choose to be challenged. Who knows what else is out there until you take the time to look. And, many of us don’t do that unless life pushes us.
Possibly one of the most challenging times in life is losing a loved one. We can feel hopeless and powerless. We can really believe we have no choices and just live in our grief. But, we can choose how to look at life. Are you cursed or were you blessed to have wonderful and strong memories? What do you want to do with those memories? Do you want to see only that there will be no more memories or do you want to keep those great memories alive?
We can even choose our attitude. Just about every event in life has both negative and positive. Where do we put our focus?
This may seem like so much common sense. But we all know someone who makes few choices and feels victimized by life. Most of us have spent some time there ourselves. It is not a pretty place.
So, each day, we need to check the direction of the wind, decide where we want to go and then set our sails to get there – as opposed to cursing the wind for not making it easy.