One of the things that fascinates me about life is my mental state when I wake up every morning. Some mornings, I feel as though I need a head massage to get my brain cells going. Other mornings, I feel a heightened state of awareness that tells me it’s going to be a great day.
This morning, I experienced the latter. I was inexplicably exhilarated, with my mind fixated on the awesome reality that I have the power of choice — the power to make conscious decisions. And so do you.
I’m not talking about the kind of choices animals make, but choices based on human awareness. Neither of us did anything to earn this power. We were born with it — born with free will. We are free to choose.
You should always think of yourself as the guardian of two invaluable gifts — the gift of life and the gift of choice. You will make an infinite number of choices in your lifetime, and the quality of those choices will, for the most part, determine the quality of your life.
I say for the most part, because the inevitable is always lurking in the shadows. I have no explanation for the inevitable, but I do know that people often make the mistake of believing that many things are inevitable that in fact are not.
For example, if you come from a poverty-stricken background, it is not inevitable that you will go through life poor. If you’re born with a serious physical handicap, it is not inevitable that you will never be able to accomplish great things. If you’ve been unlucky in love, it is not inevitable that you will never find a satisfying love relationship.
Which is where free will hooks up with attitude. As a matter of fact, the two merge in the human psyche. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, who survived three years of torture in Nazi concentration camps, wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Frankl believed that the one thing all survivors of Auschwitz and Dachau shared was that they chose to have a positive attitude. He certainly didn’t mean to imply that it was a guarantee of survival, but he did believe that attitude was the most important factor for those who made it through alive.
The good news is that you aren’t in a Nazi concentration camp. To be sure, you have problems — some serious, some not so serious. But you also have an incredibly powerful weapon at your disposal — free will, the ability to choose the manner in which you react to, and deal with, problems.
Just know that the quality of your life is directly tied to how consistently and effectively you use this weapon.