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Do you really realize just how much choice you have in your life? Every moment you are choosing. The trick is to make those choices conscious, to be aware that you are actually making a choice at each moment.
I was talking to one of my book editors the other day and he asked me why I wrote that you choose your perceptions in life. He wanted to know how I thought that was true. Well, more accurately, he did not want to believe it was true and was hoping to convince me otherwise!!
It takes maturity to take responsibility for your choices in life—all of them. It’s much easier to find someone to blame for what you do, what you think and how you feel. It’s quicker, too.
The dictionary says that perception is ‘physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience’. Wow! Your past experience actually plays a part in how you see your world. What a surprise! So, anything you hear, see, taste, touch or smell can trigger a past memory or a past response. Whether or not you allow it, though, is your choice. You can change the way you see life at any minute.
You do choose what you pay attention to at every moment. Do not let your pre-programming from past experiences determine how you see your life now. That’s where the real choice in life is!
Have you ever been in a new relationship that has great potential for becoming a significant relationship? As you get to know one another more deeply and the ‘first date’, ‘honeymoon’ phase dissipates, it sometimes happens that that special person seems to react to some small thing in a way that completely surprises you. For example, he or she might display signs of jealousy when you have done nothing to warrant it. There is an example of a ‘physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience’. Your new partner may very well be reacting to a way you looked at someone or moved your body that they knew to mean flirting in their past relationship. Now, they want to interpret it in the same way in your new relationship. No! That’s not fair!
We need to approach each new relationship with an open mind and a willingness to see and learn about this new partner, boss, co-worker or friend with new eyes. Sure, you have learned valuable lessons in the past that will help you make good decisions, however, it is unfair to generalize the behaviors of one person when meeting someone new.
Sometimes a person in your life makes some changes for the positive. She is working hard to be different, to respond differently, to improve an area of her life. Open yourself to the possibility of seeing her differently. Give her the space to change. Notice the changes. Both of you will benefit.
Everything has the meaning that you give it. A driver cuts in front of you on the freeway. One day, you can be angry and curse the driver for being such a complete idiot. Another day, you can simply say, ‘Oh, maybe, she’s late for a very important appointment’ and let it go. That’s choosing how you see things, your perception. The second approach saves wear and tear on your energy, your nerves and your sense of well-being.
One day a colleague at work is quiet, uncommunicative and sullen. You can decide that that person is childish, angry, pouting or difficult. You may then ignore him or treat him coldly. Or, you might decide that something very difficult has happened to them and ask if you can help in some way. You may simply be compassionate towards them and give them the space and peace to recover. It’s a choice.
Life goes along much better when you take responsibility for your choices. You will not be looking for someone to blame for your mood, your responses or your actions. You choose the meaning things have and, in that light, you choose your responses. You are powerful. Every moment of every day you are deciding how to view your world. Exercise your power to choose. See things positively. It’s your choice.