The voice of the train conductor sounds through the cabin. The next stop is home. Finally. I look up from my book and out of the window. In that moment rain starts gushing down like someone is emptying out buckets full of water. Fantastic, I think to myself. No umbrella and I am wearing my cute but very impractical coat with no hood.
I sigh. And take a deep breath. It is only rain I tell myself. You can choose to not get upset by this.
This is something I have recently learned from a good friend. She has three wonderful, very strong-willed children. Something I hear her say to them a lot is: “You have a choice.” A choice to be grumpy or to smile, a choice to throw a tantrum or to calm down, a choice to share, a choice to be kind, a choice to be grateful.
I was really struck by this. Even if I don’t consciously think about it – every minute there are decisions.
Am I going to be annoyed at the lady at the checkout because she is taking her time or will I be friendly and ask about her day? Will I ignore the homeless guy or say hello? Will I be thankful for the rain because it sustains life or will I be grumpy because I forgot my umbrella? Will I frown or will I smile?
We all have 24 hours every day but I still often feel like my time is not enough. There is not enough time to exercise, to play guitar, to keep the house tidy, read, water the plants, work and get eight hours of sleep.
But even though I can’t increase the amount of time I have – I can still choose how I spend it.
I might feel forced to work my job because I need the money – but no one forces me to show up to work every day. I could stay in bed and deal with the consequences. That might not be pleasant, but it is a choice.
I am not suggesting we should all stop showing up to work so we have more time to read books (even though that would be a good life) – I am suggesting that we shift our perspective.
If I clean my house and I am doing it because I think I have to I probably won’t be feel very happy. If I am cleaning my house and think I am choosing to do this because I enjoy living in a clean house, it completely changes how I feel.
Often we feel more constrained in what we do, when other people are affected.
I might think that I have to cook dinner for my husband because he has been at work all day. And I might resent him a little bit for that as I would rather do something else with my time. However, no one forces me to make dinner every night. My husband would probably take on the cooking if I asked him to. However, I make dinner because I am better at cooking (sorry to be so honest; he is not a bad cook, I am just really good) and I enjoy doing something nice for my husband.
If I focus on my choices and why I make them, my perspective is completely different.
Rather than feeling resentful, I feel empowered.
Please do not hear what I am not saying – this is not a ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’ kind of post. There are no endless possibilities in life. There is a limit to your energy and time and resources. Life is about making the most of it.
How you do that is entirely up to you.