In the words of Stephen Covey, ‘Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.’
These words are very powerful. It is one of the major things that separates us from animals. We, as humans, have the freedom to choose. We have the ability, actually the obligation to choose, not react to stimuli instinctively.
I hear all the time from students, parents, friends and family that they ‘have’ to do something. This is incorrect. They chose to do it. For instance, just today, a student handed in a project and she said that she had to stay up until midnight to finish the project. She then changed what she meant by saying that she chose to stay up to finish it. She had plenty of options.
This student’s options were to work on the project beforehand knowing when it was due instead of waiting until the last evening. Another option was just to not do it. Obviously she would’ve had the negative consequences of failing the project, but it still was an option. There are probably several other options as well, but let’s move on.
Why is it so important to know that we have the power to choose rather having to do things. Well it’s quite simple. It lets us realize that we are in charge of our lives. We are not reacting to life but making the decision to live everyday. It also gives us the power to say ‘no’. Many of us have a difficult time saying ‘no’. This is because we don’t feel we have the choice. What if the other person gets upset? If you can articulate why through an thoughtful reasoning then no one should be upset with that.
Knowing that you have the freedom to choose your life and decisions will open up many opportunities that otherwise you may have missed. You always have the freedom to choose.