We have looked at the value of solitude, confidantes, and support networks. We have looked at how to deal with other people’s choices when they impact on our lives. Now it’s time to look at the things that we can control. And it’s important to start with our choices.
Our gorilla knows that he needs to eat the right things. (And if anyone thinks that a vegan diet will make you thin and sickly-looking, take a look at the picture again!) He also knows the value of both solitude and company. Here, he is concentrating on that which he can control.
Beware of The Consequences
We have already touched on this subject in the previous post, When It’s Not My Choice, where we looked at our circles of influence and concern. We highlighted the need to concentrate on those matters that we can influence. Now let’s go deeper.
One of the big problems that I see in people, today, is an inability, or even a lack of willingness to accept responsibility for their choices. “Everything” is someone else’s fault. There is no concept of suffering the consequences of any actions or decisions. The view is, “Whatever happened, I’m not responsible. And it’s up to someone else to fix it.”
Why is this important? Because we can only be at peace when we accept that every decision that we make, every action that we take, every word that we speak has consequences.
Taking responsibility for our choices means that we have to think more carefully about those choices. So does that mean we will make fewer mistakes? Possibly. After all, how many people would have chosen their most recent foolish action if they had anticipated the outcome?
And yet, even if we still get it wrong, even if we have to suffer from the results of our mistakes, taking responsibility means that we can accept those results with equanimity. We are calmer in the face of adversity.
Positive Consequences of Taking Responsibility
An added bonus from taking responsibility for our own choices is that we have better relations with others. Being at peace with ourselves gives us a calm disposition that overflows into our relationships with other people. Even if they are the root cause of any frustrations that come our way, we can deal with them in a calm manner because we are in control of our own emotions. No one can “make” us angry. It’s our choice.
So How Do I Get to This Level of Calmness?
There are many things that we can do and I hope to explore some of them in this space. But the first thing to do is simply to accept that, whatever happens to us, we have a choice as to how we respond. We may not always be able to choose what happens to us, but we are totally responsible for choosing our moods, our actions, and our words. No one else can choose those three things for us. They are our choices.
We have the power within ourselves to be calm in the face of adversity. We have the strength to overcome pressures and trials. Even if we need to seek help, from time to time, that is a choice that we can make.
So let’s start right now with a choice. Choose, right now, to be calm for the rest of the day, regardless of what life throws at you. Decide, right now, to accept with equanimity the consequences of your choices. Be determined that, whatever happens, your response will be your choice. Then, at the end of the day, you will be able to say, “Today was a day when I made my own choices.”