Friday, May 27, 2011

Choices, Wise and Other Wise

By Julie Rahm

My husband entertains me with his “one-liners”. He has a “one-liner” comeback for everything. The “one-liners” are short, summarize the situation and ultimately instruct. They were a part of his leadership repertoire when he was in the Marine Corps. He still continues to administer doses of wisdom one line at a time. One of his favorite pearls is, “Life is about choices, so choose wisely”. This one-liner gets the most use in our house. It is only seven words. But, behind the seven words is a whole philosophy for life.

The largest tenant of this philosophy is responsibility. People are responsible for their choices. We are where we are in life because of our choices. This can be an unpopular notion. Often, poor choices are rationalized by volunteering to become a victim. Plights are often couched as some else’s fault. For instance, our daughter’s excuse for poor grades was, “My teacher doesn’t like me”. When, in fact, there wasn’t enough effort to earn good grades. Effort applied to endeavors is a choice. Another gem told to me was, “I got a DUI because of entrapment”. No, DUI arrests are a result of choosing to drive above the legal blood alcohol content limit. End of story. Violations of the law are choices. Lawbreakers have decided how, where, when and who. Only the why is left up to their rationalization.

Often, we are faced with a choice between easy and best. The best choices require personal discipline and a long term perspective. Don’t trade away tomorrows. Easier choices can be detrimental in the long term. Avoid regret by asking, “How does this decision contribute to my values and goals?”

The “choose wisely” part of the philosophy also reveals, with any choice, there may be a large dose of unintended outcomes. This week our daughter is attending a baby shower for her unmarried friend who is seventeen years old. This pregnancy was a choice not an accident. They know what causes babies now. So, choose wisely knowing that some choices are irreversible. It is easier to learn life lessons when young and the tests are easy. When a life test is failed, the repeat tests get harder and harder.

There are no mistakes in life. It’s true. There are only unintended outcomes driven by choices. An important key to happiness is the ability to learn and work through those unintended outcomes. Use my metaphorical level to ensure choices are made with the right emotional balance. The flashlight sheds light on the situation and helps develop your awareness. The pliers can remove negative thoughts and confusion so you make clear decisions with confidence. And finally, the measuring tape can measure your progress toward successful decision making. And….remember, life is about choices so choose wisely!

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