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Of course, if we're talking about choices as an obstacle to living life fully, then we're talking about bad choices.  How often have you regretted a choice that you've made because it's turned out badly and you or someone else has suffered considerably as a consequence of a choice that you've made?  How often have you seen friends or family members or other loved ones--or even total strangers, for that matter--make choices that you knew were going to be harmful to that person and to others, but they've gone ahead and made the choice, against all advice?  It happens quite often, doesn't it?

One of the biggest causes of friction between parents and their children is the fact that parents want to help their children make choices so that their kids won't make the same mistakes that they did years earlier.  Basically, though, in trying to help their children avoid pain and other consequences of bad choices, these parents are also robbing their children of the ability to make choices.  They're trying to control their children's actions and have them act in the precise way that will allow them to avoid problems, and then they wonder why the kids feel uncomfortable with the control.

Once a choice is made, any other possible choices are moot.  They can't be made any longer, for the situation never will be the same.  A similar selection of choices may present itself in a similar situation, but any choice we make causes change and turns the way things are into the way things were.  Many people, though, spend a great deal of time and energy in regret, wishing that they had made a different choice somewhere along the line, wishing that they hadn't chosen the course of action that they chose.

They don't realize, though, that the only way to deal with any choices that we've made is acceptance.  The choice has been made, now deal with the consequences--don't regret the choice.  Of course, if our choice was ill-advised or if it caused pain or anguish to yourself or others, we shouldn't just shrug our shoulders and say "oh, well."  We need to learn from it, and we need to direct our energy towards dealing effectively with the consequences, and not direct our energy towards feeling bad or feeling sorry for ourselves.

We also can't let one or two--or even ten or twenty--bad choices keep us from making choices in the future.  Accept the fact that some choices have turned out badly, but learn from those choices and move on.  The person who won't enter into another relationship because of the person or persons who treated them badly before doesn't realize that he or she made a choice to be with that other person, and that instead of sabotaging their future happiness, they should learn from the error and focus on choosing to be with people who will treat them better.

Don't let yesterday's choices hurt your today and your tomorrow.  Don't let your fear of choices prevent you from making effective ones.  Accept that you will make mistakes, and make sure you're ready to deal with any consequences of your choices or actions.  We all face choices every day, and billions of people make billions of decisions every day, but billions of people also deal with consequences--and there are many wonderful consequences to choices--every moment.



If you take a single word. . . and make it your own on a day-to-day basis,
I hope it's choose.  Being able to choose to act differently, even while
feeling the old way, may be the most liberating growth you can accomplish.

Sue Patton Thoele
The Courage to Be Yourself


The difficulty in life is the choice.

George Moore


The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.

Abbe d'Allainval


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Not all of your decisions will be correct.  None of us is perfect.  But if you
get into the habit of making decisions, experience will develop your judgment
to a point where more and more of your decisions will be right.  After all,
it is better to be right 51 percent of the time and get something done,
than it is to get nothing done because you fear to reach a decision.

H.W. Andrews


Choose always the way that seems the best, however rough it
may be; custom will soon render it easy and agreeable.



You may find merry-go-rounds tame.  Perhaps your life is more like a
roller coaster ride.  That's okay, as long as it is the ride you want to
be on.  Maybe you enjoy the highs and lows of the roller coaster.  I
have fun on the merry-go-round, where I can meet people of all
ages and we can talk while we ride.  The kind of conversations and
interactions I like are impossible when we are alternately shrieking or
tense with anticipation.  But if that kind of life is truly your choice
and makes you happy, then go ahead and ride the roller coaster.
  Whatever ride you choose in the carnival of life, just remember to
stop, now and then, for a rest and refreshments.  And those of us
who are carousel riders should definitely take a break whenever
the merry drops out of the merry-go-round.

Bernie Siegel


You are the person who has to decide.
Whether you'll do it or toss it aside,
You are the person who makes up your mind.
Whether you'll lead or will linger behind,
Whether you'll try for the goal that's afar.
Or just be contented to stay where you are.

Edgar Guest

Know how to choose well.  Most of
life depends thereon.  It needs good
taste and correct judgment, for which
neither intellect nor study suffices.

Baltazar Gracian



Over the years I have come to believe that life is
full of unchosen circumstances, that being human
has to do with the evolution of our individual
consciousness and with it, responsibilities for choice.
Pain and joy both come with life.  I believe that how
we respond to what happens to us and around us shapes
who we become and has to do with the psyche or the soul’s growth.

Jean Shinoda Bolen


The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything
simultaneously.  So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by
indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.

Elizabeth Gilbert


What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient.

Bodie Thoene


The need to make wise choices encompasses every area of our lives.
Since we have time for only a limited amount of stuff, we need to choose
wisely what stuff we're going to allow to take up that time.  Since we have
only a limited amount of time to spend with friends or to engage in leisure
activities, we need to choose our friends and our activities wisely.

Elaine St. James


Excellence is never an accident.  It is always the result of high intention,
sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of
many alternatives--choice, not chance, determines your destiny.



You are the sum total of the choices that you make in your life.

Wayne Dyer
Happiness Is the Way



Happiness and love are just a choice away.

Leo Buscaglia


What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.



In any moment of decision the best thing you can do
is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing,
and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Theodore Roosevelt


In order to feed our internal flames, we must wake up and make each of our
choices conscious.  A conscious choice reflects our highest commitments and
is in direct alignment with our vision for our lives.  When we make the conscious
choices, we take into consideration the effect that our actions will have on our
lives as a whole.  We take the time to reflect on where our choices will
lead us and the impact they will have on our future.

Debbie Ford


Choice is a divine teacher, for when we choose we learn that
nothing is ever put in our path without a reason.

Iyanla Vanzant


You rarely have time for everything you want in life, so you
need to make choices.  And hopefully your choices
can come from a deep sense of who you are.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers


You have choice.  You can select joy over despair.  You can select
happiness over tears.  You can select action over apathy.  You can select
growth over stagnation.  You can select you.  And you can select life.
And it's time that people tell you you're not at the mercy of forces greater
than yourself.  You, indeed, are the greatest force for you.  Now, you
can't do it for me, but you can do it for you.

Leo Buscaglia

Your choices have psychological consequences.  The way you choose
to deal with reality, truth, facts--your choice to honor or dishonor
your own perceptions--registers in your mind, for good or for bad,
and either confirms and strengthens your self-esteem
or undermines and weakens it.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day


Choices can change our lives profoundly.  The choice to mend a broken
relationship, to say "yes" to a difficult assignment, to lay aside some
important work to play with a child, to visit some forgotten person--
these small choices may affect many lives eternally.

Gloria Gaither


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There is more ambivalence in our lives now than there was in the past.  There is more confusion and there are more questions of meaning.

In part this is because we live in a multiple-option world.  Once we pass basic survival, the options for Americans seem endless--whether it's choosing a flavor of ice cream, whom to live with, or what to believe in.

For those of us raised on Neapolitan ice cream and marriage, it's intimidating.  Don't try to buy a stereo or a car without a sixteen-year-old along to provide advice.  There are too many alternatives and variations.

The negative is that life is more complex and decisions wear us out.  The positive is that the choices are now ours.  We are more tolerant of those who choose differently.  We accept a wider spectrum of love, faith, and style.

There is more individual responsibility for what we are and the way we touch our communities.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, breathe in deeply the freedom, accept the responsibility, and remember that joy that can go with it.  You have the ability to make a unique, individual choice.  If it is good, it is yours; and if not, you can choose differently next time.

Jennifer James

Every choice that you make forms a building block of your life.  Every
act, every word, every decision becomes a part of you.  The way that
you see and respond to the world in which you live results from the
choices you have made.  So, in a sense, not only do your choices make
you who you are, they, in effect, make your world because the world
that you "see" is the world in which you live.  We are given the
opportunity to shape and mold our world through the use of our
consciousness.  We have the power of free will to determine what we
want in life, and we have the authority to call forth our good through
the powers of decree, imagination, enthusiasm, joy, and faith.

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who
walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last
piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer
sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person 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.
And there were always choices to make.
Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision,
a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit
to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your
inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become
the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to
become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
Fundamentally, therefore, any person can,
even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him
or her--mentally and spiritually.  We may retain our human dignity
even in a concentration camp.  Dostoevski said once, "There is only
one thing that I dread:  not to be worthy of my sufferings."  These
words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with
those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death
bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost.

Viktor Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning


Life seems overwhelming when we face an endless stream of perplexing
choices:  How will I connect with my life partner?  Should I stay married
or leave?  How am I going to pay this month’s bills?  Is there a job that
will bring me passion and income?  How do I deal with my annoying
relatives?  Where on earth is my home?  How will I get or stay healthy?
And on and on and on.  Yet behind all of these apparent choices, the only
real choice is between fear and love.  Fear hurts and love heals.  All else is detail.

Alan Cohen
A Course in Miracles Made Easy

Choice of attention is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer.
In both cases, a person is responsible for his or her choice and
must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Many of life's circumstances are created by three basic choices:
the disciplines you choose to keep, the people you choose
to be with, and the laws you choose to obey.

Charles Millhuff


When confronted with two courses of action I jot down on a
piece of paper all the arguments in favor of each one, then on the
opposite side I write the arguments against each one.  Then by weighing
the arguments pro and con and canceling them out, one against the other,
I take the course indicated by what remains.

Benjamin Franklin


Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is
not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

We can choose to gather to our hearts the thorns of disappointment,
failure, loneliness, and dismay in our present situation.  Or we can
gather the flowers of God's grace, boundless love, abiding presence,
and unmatched joy.  I choose to gather the flowers.

Barbara Johnson


The greatest power God gave us is the power to choose.  We have
the opportunity to choose whether we’re going to act or procrastinate,
believe or doubt, pray or curse, help or heal.  We also choose whether
we’re going to be happy or whether we’re going to be sad.

Lou Holtz



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Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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