Our Power of Choice
Humans are very unique. We can imagine, we can reason, and, most importantly, we can choose. We can change literally anything in our lives, all because we have the power of choice.
This time of year, I think a lot of people forget about their power of choice. The increase in stress that comes with the holidays compounds with depression that comes with the dreary weather, which means that while this should be a merry and bright season, a lot of people struggle with negativity. If you’re stressed or depressed, remember that you have the power of choice. You can make the decision to change your outlook. Every choice we make is made of three parts: focus, meaning, and action.
When you make a choice, you first decide what you’re going to focus on. If you only focus on everything bad that’s going on in your life, you’re going to feel horrible. If you shift your focus to the great things, your whole mindset shifts. Your focus is your goal; it’s the thing that motivates you.
After you find your focus, you need to give it meaning. Make it positive, something to fight for. Back in 2008, when the economy was at its worst, I heard a lot of people fretting about how they were going to go out of business. But I also heard a few people say, “Okay, the economy is bad, so we need to up our game. We’ll work harder so when everyone else is declaring bankruptcy, we’re ready to dominate the space.” They made the choice to turn the economic downturn into a reason to improve. Finding meaning in uncertainty worked out for them much better than those who’d already given up.
Here’s the final and most important step. Choice means nothing without action. Choosing for something in our lives to be different does not magically make it so. There are often obstacles in the way. We can’t just snap our fingers and say, “I’m going to be happy now” or “I’m going to lose weight.” That’s not how it works. Sometimes we need extra help. But we can make the choice to do things that will improve our lives for the better.
A very good friend of mine, Kelly, was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy. It was a tough time, and I know she’s still going through the hard stuff. She’s on the road to recovery, but she’s not out of the woods yet. Faced with this bad news, Kelly could have easily thrown in the towel, but she didn’t. She chose to keep fighting every day. Kelly focuses on the positive, holds onto meaning, and does what she needs to do to get better. Thanks to her choice, my wife and I still get to spend time with one of our best friends.
If December has you feeling down, remember your power of choice. Focus on what brings you joy, give a new meaning to your situation, and take action to make your choice a reality. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth making that decision for yourself.