I started thinking about how many aspects of our lives come down to choice because a friend recently told me that during her last session with her longtime personal trainer, he said he had a gift for her. His gift was the realization that she always has a choice — whether she goes to the recreation center or stays home, whether she lets her parents’ wacky way of looking at the world affect her daily life or not, whether she eats the candy bar or chooses a yogurt instead.
As she was telling me this story, I was thinking that surely her point would be what a lame “gift” this was. After all, aren’t gifts actual things like a new pair of work out socks or a way-to-go T-shirt? Instead, though, she said the idea that it really is as simple as choosing to eat the doughnut or not eat the doughnut was an epiphany for her — the idea that if she just slows down long enough to think about and own the choices she makes, she can change her life for the better.
I didn’t think about the past year and half of my life in terms of a series of choices. But as my friend and I talked, I realized that I am where I am today because I made a choice to be happy, a choice to be fulfilled, a choice to pursue lifelong dreams and a choice to put what I wanted above others.
I remember hearing a sermon years ago in which the minister explained that we all have a choice of how we start our day. This spoke to me because at the time I was struggling with all the bad things that seem to happen in the world and are out of our control. He said we could either start the day with a news channel telling us about the horrible crimes committed overnight and the poor state of the economy or we could drink our coffee and chat with our kids while they eat breakfast.
This is when I made the choice to change the way I was living. I stopped meeting for lunch with women who wanted to gossip about other women. I chose to stop answering the phone at dinnertime. I chose to not be the victim of circumstance but instead live each day with purpose.
So even though I originally thought my friend’s trainer was a dud, I realize he shared with her great wisdom. Simple as it may be. We can all be happy and healthy and surround ourselves with people who make us feel good. We can get up and go for a walk or even hit the snooze a time or two, which is sometimes what’s needed. It’s all just a matter of choice.
Julie Stafford is a native of Greenville and a freelance writer living outside Boulder, Colo.