“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~ Maya Angelou

On a weekend gathering of like-minded individuals, we were discussing about one of my favorite subjects – The Power of Choice.

The Premise

We discussed about how the mindset of being at the source of the matter and keeping the power to consciously choose our actions can affect our life positively.

We discussed about choice being nothing but a mindset, a perception of what a right or wrong choice may be.

We discussed about how our values, beliefs and perceptions affect our choices.

We discussed about impact of tiny choices and the direction that our life takes based on those.

We discussed about building our life around set principles and active choices, consciously made based on those principles.

The Heart Touching Story

While we were discussing the power of choice,  and how we can choose our delights, we experienced a noteworthy something: A cousin of a friend – about whom I knew very little at that time – raised her hand. She looked like in her late-teens and wanted to say something.

Here’s what she said:

“Last month, I was assaulted by my uncle. It was absolutely unexpected. I felt deceived, being hurt and disturbed. I never thought my uncle would do this to me. I was feeling like sky has fallen onto me. But, after listening to the power of choice, I’m not going to feel disturbed. I’m going to choose to be happy no matter what. I must thank my cousin who brought me to this session.”

Everyone was touched by this girl’s humbleness and courage. She wanted to choose to be cause in the matter rather than being victim of what happened to her.

Sure, she was in a lot of disturbance but she gained the self-cognizance that she could choose her response to her scourging personal battle. She saw that she could be cause in the matter and not mere an effect.

She also asked how exactly she could be cause in the matter.

My answer was:  “Accept your uncle the way he is and the way he is not. Call him and let him know that you don’t have any personal vengeance against him and you forgive him for what he did. And observe how you feel.”

“This sounds difficult but I’ll do that and let you know,” was her reply.

An Interruption

While this dialogue was happening, one distant friend interrupted,

”I lost my job last week and I was feeling that I’m destroyed although I can live without job for at least next 3 months. My pain is nothing compared with what this girl had to pass through. Maybe this is an opportunity to create something more meaningful. I should not waste my time regretting about what happened and should make a choice to move forward.”

The friend made this choice because he compared his pain with someone else. He had the choice not wait and compare his situation with someone else to be able to take charge of his life…in the discussion he understood that and announced to make a better choice.

Coming back to the girl again…

To create a new life, she must be able to accept and let go of wrath she was feeling about her uncle. It was hard (in fact, next to impossible in the situations like this) but surefire way of getting out of disturbed state of mind and start living life again.

I don’t know how she would handle this situation. But I am sure if she has really understood what the power of choice is, she’ll find meaning and inner peace in her life. Eventually, she’ll find serenity and freedom to live a better life.

The next steps

Only your actions, nothing else, are your true belonging, isn’t it?

Being able to choose is an opportunity to be cause in the matter. Read and reflect on what Victor Frankl wrote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

We all encounter similar – may be less intense – situations in our lives where we think we’re taken away.  Some of us feel frustrated, victimized and down just because they have made a choice to feel that way.

Can we not learn from this brave girl and choose to be happy, no matter what?

About the author:

utpal-vaishnav-aboutUtpal Vaishnav is a lifelong learner, entrepreneur and author. He is the founder of Self Help Zen where he shares pragmatic tips for effective living.