The Power of Choice

Over the past few months, the Serenity Prayer has been giving me a lot of strength to tide through the ongoing challenges that have been coming my way once again. And whilst I have been forced to give up on a lot of my favourite things during this time, thankfully, I’ve been able to keep up with my reading and daily journaling to vent my thoughts and emotions. These alone have been a source of great strength and wisdom in helping me face the turbulence with grace, patience and understanding. To be honest, some days, they’ve helped me survive through the worst.

A few months back, a chance reading of The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius filled me with wonder about how universal our struggles are, even when we are divided by two millennia between us.

An emperor’s attempt to come to terms with his own struggles in a bid to understand himself and make sense of the universe reflected a certain universality of experience in me, as it must have done, for millions across the world. Whilst our circumstances bring on unpleasant situations into our lives, our suffering is deeply rooted in our thinking.

Of the many life lessons that came from the book, the one that spoke to me the most was this realisation that there are things we can change and those that we can’t—what we have influence over and what we don’t.

It made me realise that the crux of self-mastery depends on the element of choice that we have in the face of situations over which we have no control.

It was this power of choice that became my guiding light as I tried to understand how instead of spending time hurling myself at things that were beyond my circle of influence or control, I could instead work on those things that I could change or control.

Agreed that life does not grant us the privilege to undo the events that take place in our lives, but what about the choices we are making right now, in response to those very events? What about the actions that we are taking, as a result of that? Surely those can potentially change the future. In other words, we do have the power to influence at least some of the desired outcomes at a future time, if not all, which to me, felt very empowering especially in the face of situations that left me feeling helpless. We don’t have to feel like a victim when we realise that we have the power to create the desired outcome in those areas where we have some element of control.

Looking back, all I can say is I’m glad that I had this little “eureka” moment as a reminder of what I was capable of. Suddenly, the world seemed full of possibilities to me and I felt the weight I had been carrying for a while, suddenly lifting, leaving me lighter. Books have that power over me, always. Not surprising that I love being surrounded by them everywhere, in every room in our home—they are my beacon of light, the harbinger of happy thoughts and my ever-so-faithful companion through the dark moments.

If you’re stopping by the blog today, I’d like to leave you with this thought—What if we could learn to focus on accepting those parts of the day that are within our control and those that are not, wouldn’t we have greater chances of being happier individuals, rather than continually fight a battle that will always remain unwinnable?

So, tell me dear readers, how do you deal with situations in your life that are beyond your control and what, so far, has been the most important lesson it has taught you? Do share in the comments below. I’m all ears. 🙂

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Written as part of our #SoulfulSunday freewriting exercise—along with VinithaShilpa and Anamika.

7 thoughts

  1. The best part of this year seems to be all of us learning lessons that our going to see us through not just these times, but will last well into the future. I feel like though we were sold on the idea of mindfulness and living in the present moment, it is now that we’re really starting to practice it in a much richer and fuller way. So glad we’re on this journey together! ♥

    1. Absolutely, Corinne! Every day I’m learning something new as I practise mindfulness. I only wish I chanced upon it earlier. But then, probably, this is the right time and that’s why I can appreciate the magic of this journey so much more intensely than I’d ever done before.

  2. It has taken me so many years to understand that I have no control over anything that happens in my life, but I do have a control over how I react to the incidents. Although, there are times when I still try to control the situation and then feel miserable when I realise it’s only giving me stress.
    Since some months now, I pray a lot, express gratitude, focus on the good things in life, on all that has worked out for me, for all the positivity and the miracles and the blessings. I also try to focus on my breath and force myself to live in the moment instead of letting my imagination go wild. Sometimes, I let myself cry till it feels better. And, then I remind myself that life changes every moment. The thing that is giving us grief today, will not stay permanently in my life and things will get better someday so I need to have patience and faith. Shraddha, Saburi….the two words that I remind myself when in a difficult situation. And God – The One who will help get us out of it soon.

    1. Absolutely, dear Shilpa! I can totally agree with your thoughts. No matter how tough things get, the Universe will ensure that we are able to navigate ourselves through the chaos and emerge stronger, right?
      God is our saviour and our hope!

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