The 12 Most Powerful Life Choices I Ever Made

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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.

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13 Comments

  1. Laurel Regan

    August 28, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Vidya, I do believe you and I are on a similar wavelength! Loved this post – thank you for the inspiration. :)
    Laurel Regan recently posted…12 Most Effective Keys to Living a Meaningful LifeMy Profile

  2. Renuca

    August 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Hi Vidya, I enjoyed reading this post. So much wisdom, and yet so human in your reflections. A lot of your choices ring true for me too, ‘letting go of expectations’ is something I really need to work on for sure- ( if only for my own wellbeing). I’m definitely printing this out too, thank you.

  3. Shalini

    August 28, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Loved your post, Mam! You are truly an inspiration! I know I need to practice many on your lovely list. I hope I do. Thanks again.
    Shalini recently posted…Carrot in Yogurt Sauce (Carrot Pachadi)My Profile

  4. Beloo Mehra

    August 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Excellent post! I loved your list, and it gave me much to ponder upon. I particularly value number 1 and 12. In a way everything else sort of fits in nicely between these two. Or at least it seems that way to me, at the moment. Thanks dear for yet another inspirational write-up. So simply and effectively done!
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Is it Really the Culture? (No to Generalization, Yes to Grounded-ness)My Profile

  5. Rahul

    August 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    In total agreement with you when it comes to choices in life, Vidya:)

  6. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    August 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    This is fabulous and wise, Vidya. I keep going up and down the list trying to choose which one to say “that resonates most,” but each and every item on your list is THE one that I wholly agree with and aspire to.

    Great post. Thought — and action — provoking. ♥
    Lisa recently posted…Ice bucket fatigue no moreMy Profile

  7. Vishnu

    August 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Th first four points are the key to happiness, joy, authenticity and personal success! Awesome post and awesome choices made, Vidya. THanks for sharing with us.

  8. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    August 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I think this is a great list. I agree that practicing forgiveness is such a key for improving your life. Holding onto resentment just makes you suffer and not the other person. It becomes easier over time the more you practice. Keep up the great self-care.

  9. My Inner Chick

    August 29, 2014 at 8:34 am

    So much delectable content, insight, and wonderful tips for “LIVING,” Vidya!

    Superb. All. Of. It.

    Love you more than 6 shiny ebony panthers swimming in Lake Superior in Summer. xxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…A Letter To Her MurdererMy Profile

  10. Proactive Indian

    August 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Great list! I’d say 4, 1 and 12 are the most important.
    Proactive Indian recently posted…Empowering rural / tribal / differently abled youthMy Profile

  11. Siraj Wahid

    September 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Vidiya,

    It was great to know about your powerful decision, it seems you’ve got the things under control and fought all the bad things.

    -Siraj
    Siraj Wahid recently posted…I Made $731.6 in The Month Of August (Income Report)My Profile

  12. Usha Menon

    September 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Vidya, this is an inspiring post. I also try to practice
    most of your guidelines, But I fail in one respect. I can never say no to any one. For this one reason I have suffered a lot. Today I am again making this determination,”I will say NO boldly in future”.
    Usha Menon recently posted…Smile a whileMy Profile

  13. Ashwini C N

    September 1, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Lovely post Vidya :-), I believe in something similar, so I was completely able to relate to it.

    People might think that in order to lead a happy life one needs to make a lot of compromises and sacrifices and most importantly — changes. It’s not all that difficult. By carefully following a few pointers (Live, Laugh, Love, Say No, Forgive, Forget and Show Gratitude), which aren’t difficult, we can live the way we want to live, and be the person we always wanted to me.

    Beautiful post :-)
    Ashwini C N recently posted…Questions and Answers.My Profile