A habit I adopted at the beginning of 2018 was daily yoga, and I use the online program Yoga with Adriene. Sometimes she suggests mantras to meditate on as you are yoga-ing and one of them is: I choose to [finish this sentence]. I choose to have a good day. I choose to let go of that which doesn’t serve me.
Lately I have found myself not finishing the sentence and just sticking with “I Choose”.
This crazy time of quarantine complete with loss of income and a heavy dose of isolation can make one feel powerless. This is a situation that has been foist upon us. No one voted for this, for a novel virus to take over the world. As a global society we are struggling to catch up; still figuring out the specifics of the disease and how to exist as a result. It can feel like the virus has all the power and we are purely playing defense. And to an extent that is the case. At least on the macro level.
But where we actually exist is on the micro level, and down here there are many choices to be made, every day. For those of us that are not deemed essential, we may even have more choices than we had before. More time = more decisions. It can be overwhelming. But it can also be empowering, and I think owning that control right now can be very therapeutic.
This is not necessarily a post about time management, although it could be. That has been one of my choices which I have tried to be more definitive about: I choose to work now. I will spend x amount of time working. But I have also found that I have had to make other choices that are equally important to work. During this last week I made the choice to take the weekend off. In order to do that I had to make sure the work that was on the menu got done by end of day Friday, but choosing to set the weekend aside for rest helped my state of mind during the week as well as (of course) this weekend when the relaxation was actually taking place. It gave me some structure and something to look forward to. Very handy during a time which perpetually feels like Groundhog day.
Last week I had a very hard day. I felt incredibly sad. While I was trying to get through the day, doing my daily habits, attempting work, things felt harder as every hour passed. Finally I realized I had a choice to make: I could keep struggling away or I could just stop and take care of myself. So I fully committed to a choice: put down the work, got some yummy food and some adult beverages, and watched a bunch of TV, all the while feeling pretty miserable. I let a few dear ones know that I was going through the shit and I let them be there for me. That was a good choice. I woke up the next day feeling so much better.
Owning the fact that I felt tired and sad, and allowing myself to experience it and take a beat, was so important in helping myself move to the other side of those feelings. The next day I had no reason to feel guilty or lame. I deliberately chose to stop and feel, and the next morning I chose to pick myself up and dive back into life. Good choices, I believe.
Everyone seems to be thinking a lot about choice right now. In James Clear’s Thursday 3-2-1 newsletter (everyone should subscribe, it is my favorite thing about Thursdays) his second of three ideas was this:
“Wealth is the power to choose.
Financial wealth is the power to choose how to spend money.
Social wealth is the power to choose who to hang out with.
Time wealth is the power to choose how to spend your day.
Mental wealth is the power to choose how to spend your attention.”
We all have at least one of those, many of us have 2 or 3 and the lucky ones of us have all 4. My point remains: we all can choose something, every day.
In The Obstacle is the Way one thing Ryan Holiday talks a lot about, based on the teachings of the Stoics, is how we always have a choice about how we respond to a situation. One thing that is easy to do in this time of extremely high stress and anxiety is to get upset, offended or angry by the situation. But that response is our choice. We don’t have to do it.
“….I decide how it will affect me. No one else has the right. We decide what we will make of each and every situation. We decide whether we’ll break or whether we’ll resist. We decide whether we’ll assent or reject. No one can force us to give up or to believe something that is untrue (such as, that a situation is absolutely hopeless or impossible to improve). Our perceptions are the thing that we’re in complete control of.”
It is incredibly empowering to realize just how many choices we can make, every day, to improve our life and the lives of others. When we take ownership our choices, our perceptions, and our responses, we end up benefiting not just ourselves, but everyone around us.
It is a new week. (Yes! Here Comes Monday!!)
What will you choose today?