the gift of choice

How is 2019 going for you?

Did you make any New Year Resolutions? If so how are you doing so far on a scale of 1- 10?

I think people oftentimes find January quite a tough month.

Not only does it follow on from all the craziness that surrounds the Christmas festivities and New Year Celebrations, but the days are still cold and dark. You’re having to return to work, and all the resolutions you promised you would stick to are quickly turning to another pipe dream.

You’re not going to the gym as much as you hoped (if at all). You can’t quite stick to the new healthy fad diet, that you were assured would shred your body in time for the summer. You can’t find time to learn the new foreign language you always hoped you would.

On and on.

And so the weeks and months slip away and before you know it we’re rapidly approaching  March and a new Spring, and it can all feel a little disheartening.

I find the trick is not to get too excited about the good times or too low about the bad times.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have fun or get sad. I most certainly do. The trick is to decide how to react to any given situation.

Ryan Holiday

One of my favourite authors and thinkers is Ryan Holiday. He s also, for me, one of the great modern academics and writers on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism.

The Stoics believed that we were given a gift in life—the gift of choice.

Each person has the choice to be good or bad, strong or weak, brave or cowardly. What is your choice? Because what you choose will determine how you live your life, and how happy or miserable you’ll be day to day. Irrespective of the weather, time of year or hardship that confronts you.

Seneca, one of the great Roman Stoic philosophers said:

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable’’.

In other words, you need to set yourself a moral destination, so that when you feel yourself being blown off course, you will always be able to find your way back. These are guiding moral principles that you live by, that will guide you on your journey, irrespective whether you are celebrating or down in the dumps.

A really useful exercise is to define your epithets or to put it simply, come up with 5 -10character traits, that best describe the person you wish to be.

Imagine if a friend were asked to describe you in 5 words, what would you want them to say. Honest? Joyful? Consistent? Respectful? Humble? Reliable?

Why don’t you take a few minutes to think about this and then write them down somewhere you can see them?  It’s a great exercise that will focus your mind on what you are, what you stand for, and what’s important to you.

I love it when the sun is shining in the middle of summer, and I can wander around in shorts and a T-shirt. But I am just as content when it’s chucking it down, cold and grey outside and I have to wrap up warm. Why? Because it’s my choice how I want to be and feel.Its your choice too.

I hope you’ve had a great start to 2019 and that February brings you much joy too. There is much to cherish, whether its Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, your Birthday or simply another glorious day.

Happy February!

– Steve