Freedom and Fulfillment
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
An illness left Helen Keller blind, deaf, and mute at 21 months of age. Although she lived in a world of silence and darkness, she became a voice of hope and light. It wasn’t easy for her. She struggled in her mind to find a connection to others, a door to the world. When she did, she held the door open for others, making it possible for many people to believe in themselves.
What an attitude! Her attitude or outlook on life influenced her state of mind and led to choices others may not have made. It determined how she felt about people, things and events around her. While we cannot choose everything that happens to us, we can choose how we respond. We have the power to choose what we think, feel and do. We have the authority to create ways of thinking about relationships, surroundings and events, and manage ourselves from the inside out, thus cultivating a vibrant and amazing day, every day.
“Rediscover the joy of a quiet conversation, a simple story or game, an honest expression of affection for another. These simple gifts and pleasures will help keep your life balanced.”
Where do we begin? It all begins with exercising wise choices. When we make the most practical choices about our daily lives, we live with an attitude of hope and a spirit of content. That one simple act of human behavior by itself – the act of making choices -sets in motion a pattern of belief that tells the brain “this is how I choose to be. This is how I want to become.” So if you were given one choice: to choose or not to choose, which would you choose?
So what are the choices we can choose to make and why would we make those choices? We can choose to look at life from the perspective of making things work, seeing the best in who we are, and noticing the best of everyone and everything that surrounds us. We can choose to do everything we can to keep ourselves in the best possible physical condition. We can choose to be interested in others, to learn from them and to give them feedback that brings value to their lives. We can choose to be friendly and warm toward others. As a friend, we can choose to understand, support and bring out the best in others. We can choose to communicate in ways that allow others to see the best in us.
“Whatever we choose, we might as well enjoy it. It was our choice.”
As we look at the simple choices listed above, we may notice that some are choices of attitude and others choices of action. Whether a choice of attitude or action, all of them are choices we can do something about.
Let’s take a closer look.
How do we feel about…?
Waiting in a line
Having an evening with nothing to do
Listening to someone’s litany of complaints
Getting a haircut
Receiving expressions of gratitude or compliments
What is printed in the newspaper or shown on news broadcasts
While all of these are normal, everyday situations that we can experience, how we feel about each of them determines how we react to them. Our choices of attitudes directly affect our choices of action. Some of our choices of action build us and others up, and others pull people down.
“Some people choose to live by complaining.Other people choose to live!”
Choosing to live doesn’t mean that we will never experience pain, suffering or disappointment. We will! Choosing to live fully means that we commit to the attitudes and actions of positivity, including optimism, acceptance, resilience, enthusiasm, humor, humility, gratitude, faith and hope. One final choice is not a choice that is new to us. We knew we had it long ago. This choice is the most important and it is the choice that says: “I can and I will.” These choices bring freedom and fulfillment to our lives and that can make all the difference!
Owner, The Fitzgerald Institute Of Lifelong Learning.