Thursday, January 7, 2010

Power of Choice

Today, I am struck by how many people unconsciously choose to feel negative about their lives, and seem to always not able to get themselves out of the rut.

It really saddens me that many cannot seem to see this world as the magical and wondrous place it is.

Maybe I am the proverbial optimist, but then again, maybe not. I have always declared myself to be a born pessimist, but converted optimist.

But I am also a true believer that optimism is a learnt trait. It takes discipline, and sometimes, sheer will to focus your thoughts towards the positive side of life. When practiced consistently and daily, optimism, slowly but surely, becomes your way of life.

Incidentally, I found an online article by an MD, titled “Become an Optimist to Save Your Life”, and in it, a study was performed which supported what I inherently believed! Optimism is a trait that can be learnt! =)

I hope people will come to realize that they can choose to be an optimist. And that they can choose to see this wonderful world as it really is.

All of us only get one shot at living our lives. Choose to make it count, choose to make it fulfilling.

And now to share the speech I delivered as my final project to obtain my Competent Communicator award in my Toastmasters club! And guess what, it is titled, “The Power of Choice”. ;-)

Let me know what your thoughts are! =)
Power of Choice

“Denise, one of our team members said that you should be working overtime, since you live so close to work.”

4 years ago, this was what my manager said to me during one of my one on one sessions. I don’t recall having a verbal response to that statement, but I will always remember the epiphany what went on in my head, “It’s all about choices! We all have the power of choice. I didn’t choose to live an hour away from work. I chose to live close to work, not because I want to work overtime, but because I want to have more time to do the things that matter to me!”

Perhaps, I should have shared my epiphany with my manager, but instead I chose to keep peace, since I was still new to this country I chose to live in. But it was an experience that I will always hold dear to my heart. And it has been one epiphany that has guided me again and again when I am bombarded with the many different choices of how I live my life.

Fellow Toastmasters, our lives are a reflection of the choices we have made. Every moment of the day we stand at the point of choice. We determine how we want to perceive a situation, what we want to believe and what we will not accept.

Take the example of what my manager said to me, I chose not to get too angry with what he said. Mind you, I am no angel. I was mighty peeved by what was said to me. But I also chose to keep that experience as a testimony and a lesson on the power of choice.

How we respond to life, what we make of life is a collaboration of the little choices we make through out our lives.

Although we often are unaware of choices we are making, all choice is ours alone. The life we want is within our power. It is within our reach. Such is the power of choice. It can bring us closer to or further from our dreams.

A good part of our waking day is spent in making choices. It begins as soon as the alarm goes off. Do we get out of bed immediately or push the snooze button? Do we prepare for work or call in sick? For lunch do we eat our desk, or do we take a walk outside and enjoy the one hour break?

All during the day we continue making choices as we decide what to do next. And each decision we make will result in us either having a successful day or a mediocre day.

Many of us act as if we are in rudderless boats drifting in the sea of life. And where is our destination? Who knows? We arrive wherever the currents and tides take us.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You see, the boat we are in has a rudder! It can steer us to the shore of success. That rudder is CHOICE. If we use it, we can become the captain of our destiny.

We can choose how we live our lives. Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. And yes, you choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood.

The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life.

Here are some simple ways to start choosing how you live.

Each morning wake up and say to yourself, "You have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood." Choose to be in a good mood.

Each time something bad happens, you can choose to be a victim or choose to learn from it. Choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to you complaining, you can choose to accept his complaining or point out the positive side of life. Choose the positive side of life.

You can even choose to control your own emotions.

As an example, I have a girlfriend who lives about an hour’s drive away from the city. And she’s always asking me to go visit her, since she feels so lonely and alienated. One Sunday, I gave in, and drove the one hour to her place. As I drove, I became a little resentful, as I felt that I was guilt-tripped into going to her place. And for a while, I could almost see my emotions spiraling downwards, working its way to an unpleasant afternoon.

I remember mentally telling myself, “Stop! You already made the choice of agreeing to visit her, and you are on the way there already. Now you can make the choice of enjoying the afternoon, or you can continue letting your anger fester, and ruin your day.” Well, that did it for me, and I chose to have an enjoyable afternoon, catching up with my girlfriend.

No one states the case for using your power of choice better than Og Mandino who wrote "The God Memorandum" in his book, The Greatest Miracle in the World:

“. . . for I gave you one more power, a power so great that not even my angels possess it. I gave you . . . the power to choose. I have never withdrawn your great power, the power to choose."

What have you done with this tremendous force? Look at yourself. Think of the choices you have made in your life and recall, now, those bitter moments when you would fall to your knees if only you had the opportunity to choose again.

What is past is past . . . and now that you know this great law of success and happiness . . . Use wisely, your power of choice.

Choose to love . . . rather than hate.
Choose to laugh . . . rather than cry.
Choose to create . . . rather than destroy.
Choose to persevere . . . rather than quit.
Choose to praise . . . rather than gossip.
Choose to heal . . . rather than wound.
Choose to give . . . rather than steal.
Choose to act . . . rather than procrastinate.
Choose to grow . . . rather than rot.
Choose to pray . . . rather than curse.
Choose to live . . . rather than die.”

To close, I’ll like to now just pose a few questions for us all to ponder.

- Can you think of some choices you have made in the past that haven’t been in your own best interest?
- Can you think of a time you were in a bad mood? What caused it?
- What choices do you need to make now to take you toward becoming the person you want to be?
- How do you think you can react to those kinds of situations now that you know you are in control of your emotions?

Now that you know it's within your own power to choose who you are, you can't blame your current circumstances on anyone else. Perhaps, the hardest choice in life is to choose to take responsibility for your own life, but the rewards that stem from that tough choice far exceeds the pain of making that choice.

So, my fellow Toastmasters, take charge and make your life what you want. Stop living your life on autopilot! And as Og Mandino so eloquently put, use wisely, your power of choice.

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