Take the Time to Reflect on Your Choices
Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice. – Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.
Every day of our lives, we are constantly faced with choices.
Some are small – mustard or mayo? Some are substantial – an engineering degree or theater major?
And some are still bigger: should I wake up happy this morning despite my tough circumstances, or should I play the victim and be miserable … and STUCK?
Indeed, it is super easy to slide into the role of victim, especially when things go terribly wrong – a car accident, a theft, a health crisis, a death, a broken heart. Yet even in the darkest times, you can proactively choose to deal with the issue and move forward. Or you can sink into misery. It is YOUR choice.
Without a doubt, many truly awful circumstances are way out of our control. But choices DO remain: how will you respond to the situation?
For most of my life, I have chosen happiness and joy, rather than darkness and victimization. Believe me, I have had plenty to be miserable about – death, loss, illness heartbreak. Yet my “true north” is to make a positive, life-affirming choice.
So when a driver slammed into the trunk of my car several years ago, causing a six-car pileup, I first made the proactive choice to jump out of the car, despite my injuries, just in case the car blew up. When I swung around to see who hit me – ready for a fight – and I saw an elderly woman totally baffled and oblivious to what just happened, I made the proactive choice to back down and go sit on the curb.
And last year, during the two-day information blackout waiting for the biopsy results to see whether or not the tumor the surgeon had just removed would be terminal or treatable, I proactively figured, “Well, if I have only three weeks to live, I want to make it a HAPPY three weeks.” That was my choice. I could do NOTHING about the nature of the tumor. But I certainly could do SOMETHING about my reaction to it.
In the journey to “get unstuck,” the first order of business is to take the time to objectively and unemotionally reflect upon your past choices – both good and bad. Which life decisions worked? Which choices proved harmful? Given the opportunity to return back in time, what would you have done differently? What have you LEARNED?
If you are stuck in a dead-end job, or in a personal or professional place you just don’t want to be, how did you get there? Was it desperation that led you to take a mind-numbing position in a company that doesn’t respect its employees? Is it fear that is preventing you from trying something new? Are you making choices that bring happiness? Or is your decision-making based on pleasing others – or living up to others’ expectations?
Once you understand WHY you make the choices you do, then you will gain precious insight into how to consciously make better choices that will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.
Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at www.loribakerschena.com