Thursday, November 10, 2011

Everything is a Choice

We hear it repeatedly and see it daily across our respective Facebook news feeds, too many people mentioning all of the things that they "Have to do." Very little about what it is we want to do, or need to do, but a heck of a lot about what we have to do. My son is catching on to the flaws in such poor word choice, but I believe it is far more than words, it is how people truly feel. He is now quick to remind me that nobody has to do anything...clearly he listens to our conversations. My wife and I have been long time believers that everything in life is a choice and that there are no "Have Tos". Some choices we are conditioned to make without any deliberate thought, while others are calculated. Some choices we make because we truly know what we want, some choices we make because we aren't big fans of the potential repercussions of our desired course of action. For example,

We don't have to work where we do, we choose to
We don't have to send our kids to school, we choose to
We don't have to eat what is put in front of us, we choose to
We don't have to attend a given social function, we choose to
We don't have to eat well and work out regularly, we choose to
We don't have to do what others ask/tell us to do, we choose to
We don't have to endure a long commute to work, we choose to
We don't have to meet the deadline we are given, we choose to
We don't have to serve our country in far off lands, we choose to

A life of "Have Tos" is no fun, while a life of "Choose Tos" is not only fulfilling, but reflective of our authentic selves, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. I would offer that if any of us feel as though our life is tilting toward "Have Tos", we are too lazy to change things, denying our ability to control a given aspect of our life, or more comfortable having others dictate how we should live our lives.

I can assure you that everything I do is a choice, some more deliberate than others, but a choice nonetheless. Likewise, I freely admit that I sometimes make bad decisions or use flawed logic in my calculus. Life is too short to allow it to be filled with "Have Tos". Next time you think about making a statement that begins with "I have to..." replace it with "I choose to...". I'm willing to bet you'll feel differently about the action you are about to take. If not, I ask that you choose not to do it or give the decision criteria you are using some additional thought.

Everything in life is a choice; it's our responsibility to both see it as such and take ownership of the results. If we don't, we are merely living someone else's life.

Note: Prior to posting this, I searched my blog for the number of posts that included the word "choose"...32 to date and this is my favorite.


  1. Some of your points contradict what we were trained to do in the service -- at least in 1988. For example, if when I was a young CTISN my Chief would have told me, "Steve, straighten your gig line," I would not have felt as though I had a choice. Nay, I would have thought, "I HAVE to straighten my gig line." End of story. I get your point about choosing v. having to obey, but at the time the difference would have been semantic. Also, I suspect my old Chief -- and the Navy generally -- would rather I would have thought in terms of "HAVE TO" rather than "CHOOSE TO," just in case some uppity CTISN might CHOOSE not to do something that desperately needed doing when commanded to do it.

  2. Steve - YOu had a choice as to whether or not ti fix that gig line. The question becomes why did you choose to? Were you afraid of the potential punishment? Did you have such respect for the Chief that you wanted to please him? Did you have so much personal pride in your appearance that knowing your gig line was off became something you wanted to fix ASAP? I would agree that you and I are probably speaking about semantics. I can't help but acknowledge that for many people such words are far more than that, they are the result of a negative mindset and they perceive themselves to have no ownership of the decision, the process, or the task. You chose to serve, you didn't have to. It's far more difficult to do a job well if you view it as something you have to do. I will also freely admit that I choose to do some things that I don't necessarily want to do, but even that is a choice.

  3. Better yet, Steve, you should have CHOSE to follow the rules/regs and had your gig line already squared away ... without having needed to be "reminded" to do so.

  4. Jeff: That was a hypothetical. I never had a gig line that wasn't pefect. :)

  5. lol....good one, s.

    Often, I find that although it seems very much like I didn't "choose" things that happen in my life,at least on a conscious level... I know that my higher self has chosen some very difficult challenges to occur in this life for my soul growth. The more challenging...the more expansion that can occur when I learn from it. Henceforth, I like to think of problems now as opportunities for my soul to soar!