Posts tagged ‘decision’

April 26, 2015

Make your actions matter to the people in your world

Thought for the day, courtesy of Jane Goodall:

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

It could be something as simple as smiling at a stranger or calling a friend just to say “hi,” or something as involved as volunteering time or donating resources to a cause you care about. The things you do and don’t do — every day — have an impact on this world and the people around you.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting an old high school math teacher at a garage sale he was co-ordinating on behalf of a friend. This gentleman had always struck me as a rather serious individual, quite absorbed in the world of mathematics, but on this day, years out of his classroom, I saw another, gentler and more real side of him.

Over the course of our conversation, he told me how much the field of mathematics continues to thrill him, and how, now that he is retired, he might easily hole himself up in his home office for days on end, hard at work on a difficult proof passed along by his own graduate studies professor years ago. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in that,” he said, “and to say to my wife, ‘No, don’t bother me, don’t invite people over, leave me alone, I just want to work on this.’ ”

“But,” he said with warmth in his eyes, “I make sure I don’t do that! I limit my time in the office working on math because it can be isolating, and it’s the people in my life that really matter — being able to take care of my grandchildren, go walking with my wife, take time to help a friend like I’m doing now. In the end, people and relationships are so much more important than a mathematical proof. I know that, and I make sure I live my life according to that order of priority.”

This is a man who has made a good decision about the direction and focus of his life, and because of that decision, he makes a positive difference in the lives of the people around him. Yesterday, he made a positive difference in mine.

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February 27, 2015

Turn “if only” into “thank you”

A great quote from Doris Gregory, a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during World War II, as she looks back over her life in her memoir How I Won the War for the Allies: One Sassy Canadian Solider’s Story:

Each time you come to a crossroad in life, you decide which way to turn. At the time, it seems like a free choice, but when you look back, you realize that, given the kind of person you were at that time, with the information then at your disposal, and all the factors acting upon you, you couldn’t have done anything else. Despite the wisdom of this, you can easily fall into the “if only” trap. If only you had taken the other road. But then you wouldn’t have had all these great experiences. As the journey continues, you become more and more adept at avoiding the “if only” trap. And so I look back upon the past without regret. What happened, happened. That’s life!

October 25, 2014

Let go of “right” or “wrong” and go with your gut

Artist and author Toni Carmine Salerno writes:

Ultimately there are no right or wrong decisions, only different experiences.

These words take some pressure off those of us who tend to worry about whether we’re making the “right” choice about how to proceed in whatever life circumstances we’re facing.

Ultimately, every choice you make is the right one, because every experience you encounter holds value. The key, I think, is to let your intuition be your guide: if your intuition (a.k.a. gut instinct, subconscious mind, higher self, etc.) keeps poking you to do a certain thing or move in a certain direction, listen! Do that thing your intuition urges, even if the idea seems crazy or risky to your rational mind and/or the people around you.

The heart holds much truth. In the last few years, I have discovered that listening to my heart’s urgings (no matter how ridiculous or frightening they may at first seem) actually brings resolution to some of the fractious or troublesome pieces of my life. Acting on these urges isn’t always easy, and the outcome may not always be what I’d hoped for, but the process enables me to either embrace something new or let go of something old (often something that’s been dogging me for a long time). I loose my mind of the anxiety associated with “should I / shouldn’t I / what if?” and I’m able to move forward lighter, freer, contented — and proud of myself for taking control of my life. A very empowering and totally worthwhile experience. 🙂

September 27, 2014

Here you are again, she said

In her memoir Unsinkable, former Olympic rower Silken Laumann writes this passage about the interconnection between destiny and choice in each person’s life:

I have a belief . . . that goes something like this: Each of our lives is a book already written whose chapters have multiple endings. Depending on the choices we make, a chapter goes in one direction or another, but the book’s narrative moves forward with a relentless rhythm and aspects of inevitability. The things we are meant to do appear again and again in our story, until we recognize our responsibility and accept the challenge. No matter how hard we try to avoid them, or back away because we are scared or unwilling, they keep showing up in various incarnations.

What strikes me most about this passage is the latter part about how “the things we are meant to do” appear again and again in our personal story, in our thoughts, in our dreams and visions. I am experiencing this phenomenon right now: a certain person keeps popping up in my life story. I like to think that this person’s recurring presence is happening for a reason, because there is some inevitable yet unknown place that we are supposed to go together. Only time — and perhaps our own individual choices — will tell.

 

December 19, 2013

Get on that train (before it leaves for good)

Life offers countless opportunities for each of us to grab on to new adventures and experiences and see where they lead. Often, as we head out in some new direction, we do so blindly, with no idea of where we’ll actually end up. All we can do is decide to board that new train (unfamiliar as it is) and place our faith in the journey ahead.

Yet many people shy away from new adventures, activities and relationships out of a fear of the “unknown entities” that might lurk along the way. Without having proof that these entities actually exist, people worry that these phantoms will somehow overpower them, or derail the journey altogether. But each of us is stronger (and braver) than we think. And each of us is clever, resourceful and capable enough to overcome any obstacles that might loom ahead.

The real crux of the situation is this: when an opportunity comes your way and you let it pass, it may never come your way again. Never. Would your life be fuller, richer — more magical — if you summoned the courage to embrace more of these proffered adventures and experiences before they slip away forever?

To quote the train conductor from the 2004 movie The Polar Express (in which children must choose whether or not to board a magical train that will transport them to the North Pole):

The thing about trains is, it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.

The next time an enticing opportunity comes your way, decide to get on. Ride the magic, and believe in your own ability to see the journey through.

October 25, 2013

Into the great wide open (of your future!)

Have you ever made a decision about what to do or how to act based on what happened during a similar instance in your past? If you got hurt years ago, do you now avoid similar situations for fear of getting hurt again? If you failed (or succeeded) once, do you expect the same results the next time you try? Or do you simply stop trying, because doing so seems easier (and safer) than taking a risk and putting yourself out there?

We’ve all entertained these kinds of thoughts. But guess what? They’re not helping us.

The past is the past, and history rarely repeats itself. If you got hurt once, that’s fine. But you are a strong, capable person, and you don’t follow any patterns. With new acquaintances, the passing of time and your own personal growth factored in, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience the same result twice.

As for fear of failure, hardly anyone succeeds at anything the first time they try. The successful person is the one who tries anyway, again and again — and willingly makes mistakes — because what they’re doing is something they love, and they want to learn, or grow, or laugh, or challenge themselves in some way.

It’s time to rid yourself of the belief that your past defines your future. Your old experiences may have shaped the person you are today, but they have absolutely no bearing on where you go from here — unless you like the idea of moving through life wearing blinders that rob you of all the wonderful experiences and opportunities waiting for you in your peripheral vision.

In the end, nothing defines your future better than you do. Toss aside those old limiting perspectives — those blinders — and watch your path open up before you.

In the words of late author and motivational speaker Keith D. Harrell:

What has happened is not nearly as important as what can happen. Look to the possibilities of your future for direction, forsaking the burdensome limitations of your past.

Your future really is wide open. All that remains is for you to see that.  ♥

December 25, 2012

All aboard! Your train awaits.

Today’s quote comes from the 2004 film The Polar Express and hints at the importance of taking that leap to start your own journey before the moment passes you by.  Says the conductor of the film’s magical train:

The thing about trains [is] it doesn’t matter where they’re going.  What matters is deciding to get on.

We can never predict where the journey will take us.  We must always take uncertainty along for the ride, accept the unknown as our constant travel companion.  So be it.  We can still take that first step and choose to embark on the journey in the first place.  Yes, we can.

Merry Christmas.  Be well.

Bells

December 23, 2012

Follow your heart; come alive; do it now

It’s easy in this day and age to postpone our dreams and desires in favour of toeing the line and staying on the comfortable, well-worn treadmill that we’ve been plodding on for years.  It’s easy to tuck the things that really matter to us aside and say to ourselves, “I’ll do that later,” or, “I’ll do that when [fill in the blank].”

Well, here are two quotes that, from opposite angles, remind us to live in the moment, to be present to what truly drives us, and to act, with confidence, on our dreams and desires now — right now — because we can, and because the world needs us to do just that.

From Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, in a June 2005 commencement address at Stanford University (by this point, Jobs had been battling cancer for almost two years):

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.

And from author and philosopher Howard Thurman:

Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

From opposite ends of the spectrum — life versus death — these quotes arrive at the same message:  live your life, follow your heart.  Your time is now.  Embrace it with all you’ve got.

November 16, 2012

Let kindness be your guide

Today I happened upon a selection of quotes from the book Live Learn and Pass It On:  People Ages 5 to 95 Share What They’ve Discovered About Life, Love and Other Good Stuff by H. Jackson Browne Jr.

This “life lesson” from a 66-year-old jumped right out at me:

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.

A wonderful guidepost for life’s more delicate decisions, I’d say.

November 11, 2012

Become the person inside you

I am reading a life/travel memoir about a woman who, 48 years old and recently divorced, unbinds herself from her material possessions and takes off to travel the world — indefinitely.  Her book, Tales of a Female Nomad:  Living at Large in the World, tells the story of a woman reborn.  Disillusioned with her previous way of living and open, for the first time, to the dreams and desires within her, Rita Golden Gelman shuns the conventionality of a “home base” and instead spends months or years living in different locations around the globe, plugging herself into local communities and absorbing the cultures that surround her.

But Gelman’s new way of life is unconventional, and three years into her nomadic existence, her American friends continue to ask her when she’ll finally end her wandering ways and return to the “real world.”  Her response is confident and wonderful:

No matter how often I ask myself if I’m running away from something, I always get the same answer. No, I’m not running away.  On the contrary, I’ve discovered a new way to live.

My life is endlessly fascinating, filled with learning, adventure, interesting people, new and enlightening experiences.  I laugh, sing and dance more than I ever have.  I am becoming the person inside me.

Becoming the person inside you.  Isn’t that what life is all about, ultimately?  And does it really matter which path — direct or circuitous, conventional or unconventional — you take to get there?  As long as you are walking a path that makes your eyes shine and your heart beat with anticipation, keep going.  Follow that path — your path — the one that takes you to the person inside you.

You don’t have to travel the world as Gelman did to live a life that excites you.  We’re all different people with different dreams.  But one day you may have to make a decision or choose a direction that takes you outside the box of what others expect.  Do this with confidence and conviction, as Gelman did.  It’s your path, after all.  Your path deserves to be walked.