The Most Important Moment of Your Life
choice freedom integrity
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” - Aristotle
Every moment of every day is full of choices. Some choices are trivial and some have life-altering consequences.
- Laugh or get angry
- Eat healthy or eat conveniently
- Read or watch TV
- Walk or run
- Play or work
- Love or hate
- Marriage or dating
- Create or consume
- College or work
- Write or don't
There are No Turning Points
I often catch myself thinking that I need some big event to 'turn over a new leaf' or otherwise start living the life I want/being the person I want to be. I have this romantic idea that I need a crisis in which to make a big choice that defines my character.
But the truth is, those moments don't exist. Crises might reveal our character, but it is built day by day, by the little choices we make.
Even when we are trapped in a boring job or a crowded city, we can always choose how we respond to our situations, and that choice defines us a little bit each time we make it.
Of course, change is hard and it is always easier to look for excuses to justify the easy way.
Day after day, we resolve to be more compassionate, or more patient, or more joyful, but day after day, moment to moment, we decide that this situation is just too serious, or that right now, we're too tired to start changing things up.
So, instead of holding the door for the person behind us, we rush through, justifying it with our tight schedule. We put off that choice.
We don't realize that we have a choice to be on a tight schedule, and we have a choice on how to respond to that. And all the little choices we made over the years about how we live our lives add up to this moment.
The past is behind us. The future exists only in our imaginations. Only the present is real, and that is why the most important moment of our life is always this moment, full of infinite potential to change, to grow, to choose. It is the only one we have any control over.
And of course, putting off a choice is a choice in and of itself; the decision to do nothing is still a decision, and it still has consequences. The decision to continue living our status quo is an active choice to accept what we have now.
Or to accept what others have decided for us.
We choose our priorities. Or else they are chosen for us.
And the decision to become excellent, to live your bliss, isn't a once-in-a-lifetime choice.
It is a lifetime of choices. It is a choice you make every single moment.
- Choosing to be a writer consists of choosing to write each day, instead of choosing to not-write.
- Choosing to become a great athlete means that, each day, you choose to train and work hard.
- Choosing to be a great mother means that every single of the millions of times your children are a handful, you choose to handle them with grace and love.
- Choosing to live with serenity means choosing to smile, laugh, and be grateful each time you're stuck in a traffic jam, faced with red tape, or otherwise stuck in a frustrating situation.
The alternative is the default choice: not-write, not-train, lose your temper, whine and complain.
Maybe the default choice is made for you, as when your meal choices are limited by the availability of fresh produce, or maybe you instilled a habit long ago.
Either way, just because it is the easy, non-thinking choice, doesn't mean it's not a decision. By simple inaction, you can choose to accept it.
The other option is to make a new default for yourself. Create a habit. Make it so you can't sleep at night until you've put in your 2000 words, or you've run your miles. Make patience your first reaction to a tantrum, and learn to laugh at every challenge life puts in your path.
It takes awareness to see the choices in every moment.
It takes intention to apply the energy to make a decision.
Integrity is the result of consistency, and it is what gives you the strength to keep making the right choice.
To paraphrase Aristotle a bit, Integrity is a habit.
How do you create a habit? How do you become a joyful person who laughs at frustration and exercises infinite patience with kids, who meditates daily and never thinks to touch junk food?
You make choices. Little ones. Consistently. Right now.
Go out there and change your world.
What choices have you been putting off? What mindsets have you been cultivating by the choices (implicit or explicit) that you've been making?
Photo credit: Paul L Dineen on Flickr