Certainly, many things have had an influence on your life. These influences or events can be very important as far as your life’s ultimate destination is concerned. However, there is one thing that plays the primary role – the most important role – in determining the outcome of your life. Do you know what it is?
There are several clues that indicate where you and I fit on the smart scale, but none more indicative than the quality of the choices we make. Many of our activities and our associated choices are environmentally driven and under the control or influence of other people.
Many of us are so busy with our jobs, our families and other activities that we fail to assess who we really are and what is fundamentally important in our life. Our lives, to a great extent, are controlled by our to do lists: drive the kids to school, get to work, pay the bills, get the grocery shopping done, go to the meeting…the list goes on and on.
What other people think….
You may argue with me on this one, but the strongest influence on many of the choices we make is what other people think or, more precisely, what we think they think. I believe that this factor not only influences many of our choices, but it can actually modify the way we live our lives on a day-to-day basis.
Whether our primary, day-to-day activities involve school, work or family, it’s easy for us to be swept along by the flow of life believing that if we just do our best, things will all just work out some day. Many of us feel that if we work hard and keep our nose clean, at some point we will have a life that provides much happiness and personal satisfaction.
When you experience a series of calamities in life, including some of your own making, it seems only natural to begin looking for the WHY. As in, why is this happening to me? Why does it keep happening? What have I done to deserve this? Why am I being punished with such gleeful karmic abandon? Have I offended the Cosmos in some unknown or unremembered way? Why can’t I manage to rise above, no matter how hard I try?
In the 2003 book The Time Traveler’s Wife, a man named Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that catapults him into the past and the future at random. In the middle of it all is his wife, Clare, an artist who has had to learn to cope with Henry’s frequent and mysterious absences. “It’s hard being left behind,” she says at one point in the novel, “I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.”
Just a few months ago, I received an e-mail from Michael L. Nelson, author of Good Choices Good Life, the book that was the impetus for this website. Truthfully, I had hoped to receive a call such as his for the last couple of years. Michael invited me to join Good Choices Good Life for the purpose of writing this section – Choices in Difficult Times.
Let’s say you start out as a struggling young person in search of a better life. You apply yourself in school and cram your schedule full of extracurricular activities so your resume will appear picture perfect. Between volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly and that flawless grade point average, you are able to set yourself apart from your peers. You always behave with decorum and take on any extra work you can to save for your education. You apply for every scrap of financial aid available and manage to cobble together enough scholarships and grants to get yourself through four years at a state college or university. You do everything the so-called “right” way, within your limited means.
Since I can remember, I have been fascinated with all things Old World. That interest extends not just to pre-Columbian Europe, but to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans – when everything was magic and superstition, when the world and its boundaries were as unfathomable as the seas.