Do we really have a choice?
It was a regular schoolroom with regular kids who were distracted during class. However, they had an ‘irregular’ teacher that year who calmly told them, “You are entirely responsible for your learning. You choose whether you want to pay attention and learn, or you want to chatter away during the class, or you want to scribble and draw in your notebooks while the class is on, or even if you want to come to school and learn or not. I leave it entirely to you.”
The class just couldn’t believe what they had heard. No one had ever told them that coming to school and learning was entirely their responsibility and that they could choose to do it or not!
You may be thinking that this is impossible! How is it that the kids had a choice? How was it their responsibility? We cannot choose to go to school to study! We have to go!
How passively or actively do we approach things?
“In life, you have 3 choices. Give up, give in, or GIVE IT YOUR ALL!”
~ CHARLESTON PARKER
A choice is an option that we have. However, very often, we don’t think that we have a choice. We feel that things ‘happen’ to us. We ‘get sent’ to school. An accident ‘happens’ to us. We just ‘have to’ do what we are told. So, we think ‘poor me’, or ‘how sad that we cannot play, we have to study’ or we say that it is ‘someone else’s fault’. This is a passive, helpless way of thinking. This kind of thinking is easy, but what it really shows is that we are not fully involved in what we do, and so, are not fully responsible for our lives.
It is true that there are many things that we have to do in our lives, like keeping the house clean, getting an education, going to work, attending a family function even when we don’t really want to go, and more. We can either grumble about it, or we can do it cheerfully.
When we adopt a positive attitude and are aware that we are totally responsible for whatever we do, we realize that we actually have a choice!
So, we do have a choice!
Take a moment to think about all the things that we choose to do. Each day we choose what to wear, what to eat, what music to listen to and more. What we don’t realize is that we can even choose what to think!
When Jesus says that instead of seeking ‘an eye for an eye’, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek too towards him, he is asking us to exercise a choice. He is asking us to choose peace instead of violence or revenge.
Assuming responsibility for yourself
Our choices help us to turn a negative situation into a positive one. You may have heard of the famous quotation, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. It means that when life gives you something that is not so good (lemons which are sour, sometimes slightly bitter), turn the situation into something good (lemonade, which is sweet)! When we do this, we are taking responsibility for ourselves by choosing what to think and do.
Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.