Life is a wonderful teacher. I spent a good chunk of my life rushing around, trying to make as many people happy as I could, trying to live up to as many expectations as I could even if it meant I was out of breath, out of patience and freaking out. I kept smiling under the pressure – from within as well as without. I had any number of people trying to tell me what to do and how to do it, when to do it.
I realized that the only way to take control of my life was by exercising my right to make choices, or before I knew it, life would have passed me by, leaving me with little else but regrets.
I didn’t want that.
One of the things my Mom would keep telling me is this: The secret of those who enjoy what they do and are happy is – they make good choices and decisions in relation to their attitudes and beliefs while taking charge of their actions and behaviors. And they take responsibility for these. They are aware that it is not always possible to be in control of situations or people – but they can most definitely choose to be in control of themselves.
Good solid observation eh? And as I mulled over this, it made sense. It helped me make the…
12 most powerful life choices
Within myself, I pledged to:
1. Choose my thoughts
One of the best things I ever promised myself was to take charge of what I thought of myself. I am what I think. And what I think of me determines my experiences. I took charge of my beliefs and attitudes and therefore, my behaviors. I chose to be optimistic, yet realistic.
2. Practice forgiveness
The worst thing in life is to be unforgiving. You know what they say – anger and resentment are like drinking the poison and hoping your enemy dies. Being in a place of anger destroys our ability to think clearly. I confess I was upset about being at the receiving end of hurtful behavior. I’d hate it when my Mom would insist that the best thing to do was forgive and move on. Easier said, eh? But that is the truth, you know. Then there are the people who let you down – by not doing what you expect them to do. Annoying, but there, nevertheless. I chose to let go of expectations. Forgiveness is empowering.
3. Live in gratitude
Gratitude literally makes life worth living. Appreciating all that we have is a great state to be in. We stop finding fault with not is. Choosing to be grateful is perhaps the best choice anyone can make. I chose to let go of perfectionism, stupid expectations and worry. I chose to live in the moment as much as I could.
4. Recognize and celebrate myself – self-love
This one was the hardest. Choosing to believe I was enough, to love myself. The realization we are enough brings a great sense of peace with the world around us. When we choose to celebrate our family and ourselves, we let go of the need to compete. We are unique.
And when I did this, I could strive to:
5. Bring out the best in my son
It is so easy to get caught up with forgetting to see the forest for the trees. As parents we are so worried about raising our children that we forget the children! I was lucky to have my mother living with us and she was my voice of reason. I consciously chose to encourage my son to express himself, speak out, be curious, discover. I also chose to enjoy him the way he is, not the way I wanted him to be. It is said that parenting focuses around nurturing and then releasing – and I hope I can do both well.
6. Take control of my self-care
This was an important choice and a tough one too. Besides the health implications, it involved choices about what I did each minute of the day and whether it added value to my life. It meant eliminating toxic relationships and spending time with those who made me happy. It meant choosing to eat healthy, live healthy. The best payoff with self care is the role model my son sees in me.
7. Listen with my heart
The wonderful thing about listening is allowing things to fall in place rather than forcing them to. This holds true especially for parenting. By choosing to listen to my son, I let him know I care for him and indirectly raise his self-esteem. I’ve also learned that I really don’t have to have an answer to everything.
8. Laugh more
There’s nothing more delightful in this world than the sound of laughter from the ones we love. I choose to laugh rather than yell over most situations. Because you see, many of the minor things we get worked up over will hardly matter in, say, a few months down the line. It gives me the freedom to make mistakes and be spontaneous. As a parent, I’d rather model laughter and teach my son to see the funny side of things. Of course, this does not mean I ignore the need for discipline.
9. Let go of should so I could play
As Moms, it is very hard to let go of all the things that should be done and relax. As much as play is important for children, so it is for adults. Point is, enjoying what we do. Each one of us has our own idea of play. Don’t laugh, but I quite enjoy housework. I used to stress over not get everything done. I have chosen to believe that it is okay to slip up once in a while and take time off.
10. Heal with touch
You know what they say about a touch, a hug achieving a lot more than words ever could. Through touch, we connect with others. Touch heals, comforts. And it needn’t always be physical. A little note, an email, a card, is just as good. I choose to be proactive in practicing touch. “Kiss and make it well” is something we believe in, in our family.
11. Nurturing healthy connections
I have chosen to maintain healthy relationships within my family and friends. I choose how I relate to those I come in contact with, interact with. Life doesn’t always bring the perfect connections, but I know I can choose how to react.
12. Say yes (or No) truthfully and confidently
Another confession here – I am still on my way to mastering the art of saying NO. I always overestimate myself and think I can juggle everything I take on and finish them successfully. The sad truth is, pleasing everyone is simply not possible. Over the years, I’ve learned that it is impractical. How to overcome it? I’ve chosen to question my motive for doing something. I ask myself what if I said no instead of yes. Or yes instead of no. I weigh my options. And try to say yes or no truthfully, because I believe in it and not because it is expected of me.
It all boils down to choosing to be in charge of my attitude, beliefs and behavior so I make good choices.
Oh yes, I have this printed and visible where I can see it. Most days, I am happy that I am sticking with most of these choices. I slip up. I know I am a work in progress. But I have good reminders and know I am getting there. Life is all about choices.
I’d love to know what you think!