39 Lessons - Lesson 34 - The power of choice

39 Lessons - Lesson 34 - The power of choice

I recently came across my Facebook status from years ago, which said “I can understand why people engage in fly tipping – its soooooooooo hard to get rid of stuff these days!” (Around the same I also wrote “Car boot sales – because one man’s trash is another man’s trash!). To those who may not know, fly tipping is the practice of illegal dumping. When I wrote that, I was preparing to relocate from the UK, and I was trying to get rid of some stuff. It is ironic, because here I am, yet again trying to get rid of stuff (in a different country – not for relocation purposes) and I am encountering the same problem. It is a stark reminder to me of today’s lesson – the power of choice. If that sounds awesome – I can’t take credit for it. I recently met a gentleman who runs an organization speaking about just this topic – the power of choice, and (among other things) wanting to start a national conversation about taking personal responsibility for our actions. It is a phenomenal program that works primarily with young people exploring choices, and consequences. And if I could sum up today’s lesson in one phrase, it would be “our lives are the sum of our choices”.

There are many out there who would argue with me about the circumstances that we are born into, our parents and their choices, our bosses, spouses, neighbours, government etc, but I would challenge in response to that – we still have choices to make. We can choose how and if to respond, we can choose to get back up if we are knocked down (or stay on the ground) we can choose to speak out or stay silent (or grumble to ourselves) we can take the risk or stay within our comfort zones. And we can remember that when we do nothing, say nothing, refuse to choose – we have still made a choice, and as such we will have to live with the consequences of our action, or inaction.

Now… to those who may be wondering what this has to do with my old facebook status? Here is the thing. Every choice we make is the sum of our life. Take my old apartment just before I left the UK. As I sat there looking around at everything that I had amassed over 7 years of living in the UK, I had to face the fact that each one of those items represented a choice I had made – to buy or accept something. It is like looking at my extra pounds in the mirror, and accepting that I am looking at the sum of food and drink choices that I have made over the years - even the little ones. And just as I discovered all those years ago – it is hard to get rid of stuff, especially once it has accumulated. I am sure that I mentioned this struggle in my post on decluttering. And often, we do not realise how much stuff we have amassed – in our apartments, in our bodies, in our lives – until we are dragging it around, or attempting to pack it into a closet and it spills out all over us. This is not a call to minimalism (although I am seriously considering it these days) nor is it a call to scrutinizing everything and allowing the choices to paralyze us, this is just a simple reminder that little daily choices add up to large amounts of baggage which we will have to deal with at some point, and this applies equally to positive and negative choices we make, big or small. This is a reminder of the power of choice. And the value of making good choices in the small things that we do daily, even little ones. For me – I chose to set my priorities when it comes to possessions, and not make impulse purchases. I chose to enjoy the foods I eat, and if something doesn’t taste good then not to finish it (although I will call my friends and get them to taste it first). I choose experiences over items; photos over souvenirs. I choose not to purchase clothes that I don’t genuinely find comfortable. I choose to declutter more often instead of waiting to be found buried alive under my greetings cards and handbags. And on another note – I choose to take some time for myself every now and again without guilt. I choose which events I attend and which ones will not bring me joy. I even choose which phonecalls to accept and return. I choose not to let fear of embarrassment stop me from stepping out. We have the power of choice, and we live with the consequences of those choices, so choose wisely. For me – I am choosing to make this a short post, and going to drink a cup of tea!!

What are you choosing?

Big love from a small island

Ps - the above is a photo of my favourite tree. I love to photograph it when it is in bloom. I took that photo a few months ago, and I chose to rise pretty early in the morning to snap this pic. Totally worth it!!