I was asked to write what I was thankful for on a sign for a photo.
The word choice is what came to mind.
I’ve been thinking a lot about choice lately. I’ve been thinking about the choices I’ve made, the choices I made by not making a choice, choices I’ve wished others would make, and consequently, those I’m powerless to make for others. Choice is something we share. The scope of choice may vary from time-to-time, person-to-person, and the ability to make wise ones certainly seems to. None-the-less, choice is something we all have.
Circumstances are also something we all have. We all find ourselves in a hodgepodge of them at all times. Some circumstances we’re more than ok with, and others not at all. That’s life. It’s filled with a little bit of everything. How we experience all of those things is very unique and personal. That is to say, two people may share the exact same circumstance, but if you could step inside those of each, it would appear very differently.
Choice and control.
Control…now, that’s elusive. Sure, there’s always the illusion of control, but actual control is something none of us ever really have.
That being said then, how does choice play out in circumstances that are never entirely in our control?
A long time ago, I was introduced to a book by James Allen called “As a Man Thinketh”. In it, Allen said, “Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.” His words are very frank, very in your face. It didn’t sit well with me at the time, because I was finding myself in very unpleasant circumstances.
You see, as humans we love to take credit for the things in life we’re good with, proud of. But, when it comes to our faults, our failures, we’re quick to give credit elsewhere. There’s always some external cause for our internal turmoil.
Allen goes on to say, “Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation...”
It’s clear here that while details of our circumstances may in fact be out of our control, ultimate control of who we are; “beings of power, intelligence, and love” are not. We control our thoughts; therefore, we have choice regarding the way in which we think about and react to circumstance. Choice is the “key to every situation”.
For this reason, I no longer view life in terms of what’s “right” or what’s “wrong”, what’s good or bad. The dogma I preach, the religion I adhere to is that of “decision and consequence”. It’s extremely freeing. Good and bad, right and wrong are largely as relative as the way we each experience a given circumstance. However, if at any point I find that I’m not ok with the circumstance I face; the consequences of the decision I’ve made, I can simply choose differently.
Choices made by not making choices.
Allen says, “A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
A non-decision is a decision. You must live and act with intention. Since Allen is talking about gardening, I’ll play that illustration out. I was recently sitting with someone whom, to be honest, isn’t making a decision I really wish she’d make. Her approach to the situation was to, “let it happen organically”. I’ve heard this before; I’ve said this before. In that moment though, it struck me. Organic farming is considerably more difficult than using more modern methods. Organic takes more time investment, more work.
The implementation of herbicides and pesticides in farming was a very intentional action toward meeting the need of feeding more mouths quickly, efficiently and reliably.
Full-disclosure, I’m totally pro-organic, but you get what I’m saying.
I’m also spiritual by nature. I think that’s fairly apparent in my life, and in my work. I firmly believe that the Universe or God is for me and with me, and that I have the ability as a creation of the creator to create. Creation, however, takes intention. It takes effort.
Creation happens in three parts; thought, word, and deed. For the sake of brevity, I’ll speak to thought only.
Enter Allen, “As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains…A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts…A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”
What you choose to think matters. How you choose to think matters. Beyond thought, it’s speaking life into your creation, and finally, working toward it. If you don’t do something, you can’t expect something.
The origin of all creation is thought. The origin of thought is within the self.
Be intentional with thought. Think about the choices you have; the choices you’re making. Choose who you will be.
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.” – you guessed it…James Allen.