“It’s choice…not chance…that determines your destiny.” –Michelle Jean Nidetch
What does this mean exactly? In our daily lives we make thousands of choices…to get out of bed in the morning, what to wear, what food to put into our bodies…each and every choice forming and shaping our life experiences for that day. We know that if it is 90 degrees outside and we choose to wear a sweater with a turtle neck, we’re going to be hot. We know if we choose to eat cake and ice cream for breakfast, we’re probably not going to feel well or have much energy throughout the day. But it’s still our choice.
These seem like simplified, common sense choices we take for granted every day, but they are indeed still choices…opportunities for us to decide whether or not our day turns out positively or negatively. In the grand scheme of things the best we can hope for is to make the best choices possible to produce the most positive outcome.
However, that not all choices in life are as black and white as the examples above. Choices like whether or not to stay in an unhappy relationship or if we should take a job opportunity that would move us away from family and friends can sometimes be the most difficult choices of all. They lead to the most life-changing consequences, and being the human beings we are, we don’t always make the “right” choices. Like the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.”
One thing both of these types of choices…the simple and the difficult…have in common is that they are ours–we own them. Others in our lives may attempt to influence our choices but ultimately we are the only ones who stand accountable for the choices we make. Take a moment and consider your level of happiness in your present life. Are you completely satisfied with how things are? Are you completely miserable and looking for a change? Now apply our theory about choices. If you are responsible for the choices in your life, and ultimately those choices will lead to your happiness or dissatisfaction, then you are also responsible for the level of happiness in your life. Correct?
Now some may look at this theory and say, “That’s all well and good, but what about the things that happen in our lives that we don’t choose? What about the car accident that kills a teenager or a spouse who has an affair? We don’t choose those things and yet they still affect our happiness.” This brings up an excellent point. While we may not choose every event that happens in our lives, we do still choose how we react to these events. A child is killed by a drunk driver for instance. That child’s parents can choose to react with anger in their hearts; holding onto pain and ultimately becoming crippled by this life event…or they can choose to react with forgiveness; celebrating their child’s life and then moving on, always keeping that child alive in their hearts. One choice leads to a healing, more positive outcome and the other…well, not so much. But the choice is still ours. We choose whether our lives are happy or not. We take accountability for our happiness in our lives through the choices we make every day. From the smallest to the largest, our choices and our ability to take accountability for them determines the quality of the life we lead.
I’d like to close with a thought for you to ponder. It is one of my favorite quotes concerning choices and accountability and it goes like this: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Think about it for a minute…breathe in and out slowly and really think about it: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Happiness…it’s all up to you.