By Monique Nienaber
Social Worker at Nurture Health, based at Nurture Woodlands
“You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.”
-Roy T Bennett
There is a famous parable about the power of choice:
An old Cherokee Indian chief is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a fight between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and loving awareness. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person in the world.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
To which the old man simply replied, “THE ONE YOU FEED.”
We make decisions every day—from seemingly inconsequential choices, to larger ones that can affect the course of our lives. Part of the power of Mindfulness is that it allows us to make wiser choices—the ones that lead towards living a more healthy, meaningful and fulfilling life.
The choices we make each day are powerful. They can nourish us or drain us. They can lead us into negativity, suffering and disillusionment or they can wake us up. They can move us one step closer to illness or one step closer to health. They can disconnect us from each other or cultivate more love, connection and peace.
Our daily choices are precious moments in time where we make a statement about who we choose to be. And they are a creative force—creating a future for ourselves, our communities and our world.
We often underestimate the power of our daily habits and decisions, but they ultimately lead to developing our enduring traits, carving out our character and defining our quality of life.
Today and beyond you will make many small decisions—from what products to buy, to how you speak or react, where you choose to hang out and how you use your time.
These choice points can be like mini meditations of a sort. Times when you tune into your values, what really matters, makes you (and others) happy.
So, here’s an invitation for this week: Bring more presence into the ‘choice points’ throughout your days. Bring your whole self to these moments and let your actions and words flow from that place of deeper awareness. Let those choices become like a form of art. Expressions of what is deepest and truest in you. Expressions of your wisdom, your love, your authenticity.
In this way you will infuse your days with awareness, feed the ‘good wolf’ and gradually craft your life into a masterpiece one choice at a time.
Feeding your mind with positive affirmations during difficult times is a choice. If you choose to direct your thoughts towards positivity the following will help you to stay positive during difficult times:
Express What You Are Grateful For
Even in the worst of times, most of us realize that we still have things in our lives for which we are grateful. Voice those blessings!
Practice gratitude. Talk about the things you are grateful for with your closest friends/family, your support group. Keep a gratitude journal to capture the thankfulness you feel for what you have on a daily basis.
Actively acknowledging what you’re grateful for will help you to always have a grateful mind and heart, even when bad things happen.
Have a Positive Support Group
Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you stay positive when in a negative situation.
There are plenty of negative people out there—avoid them! Their negative attitudes will only bring you down and be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve by practicing positive thinking.
Exercise Your Body and Mind
We know that exercise is good for our mind and bodies. It releases those natural endorphins in our brains that make us feel better.
Exercise has physical as well as mental and emotional benefits. Getting out there and moving around will keep your body in better shape, as well as boosting your self-esteem for having the discipline to exercise.
Retrain Your Mind
Are you a person who continually beats yourself up mentally? Do you constantly question your actions and practice negative self-talk? The more you talk negatively to yourself, the more negativity will become a part of you.
Instead, practice the power of positive thinking. Any time a negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a positive one. At some point, this will become more natural as your brain automatically turns a negative into a positive.
You Have Complete Control
It is so important to understand that we are all making choices all the time, even when we chose not to choose, we have still made a choice. It is our choices that determine our experiences. The choices we are making today will show up in our experiences in the future.
Unless we are willing to take full responsibility for ourselves and the choices we make, we have no control over our lives. We have been given all the power to create our experiences through our choices, but if we believe that outside forces are responsible for our choices, we give away all the power we have.
Sometimes making the right choice or even knowing how to choose is very difficult, but it is vitally important to understand that you are in charge of your own life if you chose to think for yourself. If you chose not to take charge, you will experience the consequences of that choice, and simply be blown about by life like a leaf in the wind.