Everybody has the choice to exercise their will — including the choice not to do so. Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, describes this inner freedom as “the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances . . . ” Every moment of life we are faced with the choice to submit to or resist the circumstances that conspire to take away from us our knowledge of our true worth and value.

All of us have the same 1,440 minutes given to us each day. How we choose to use this time is our decision. If we won’t decide then life will decide for us. Similarly, we have the ability to choose the way we feel by changing our motives for our actions and our expectations of the outcome. Often positive and negative feelings are the outcome of whether or not our motives and our expectations have been met.

A story: There was a  boy who wanted to be a sports champion. His father, however, constantly put the boy down telling him he was useless. The boy, however, was determined to achieve success. Unfortunately, in an accident at a very young age he lost one hand. Determined to still make it, he approached various sports coaches in his school. But no one would take him on their team. Finally, the handball coach gave him a chance. The young boy did extremely well and went on to play for his school.

Several years later the handball player was sitting in a restaurant.  He had retired from the sport by then. A young man from the same school approached the sportsman and introduced himself as a handball player. The young man then exclaimed, “Oh! You had a problem!” The former player asked, “What problem?”. “You have only one hand and therefore you would have had a problem catching the ball,” pointed out the youngster. “Young man,” said the champion, “it is you who has a problem. When the ball is thrown at me, I don’t have to choose. You have to!”

Like a boatman who rows towards his goal irrespective of the wind, we cannot determine the direction of the wind – we can only choose our attitude.

Exercise: Write five or six sentences using the phrase “I should . . . .” Now read the sentences aloud to yourself and experience how you feel. You will notice that when you use the word `should’ you put pressure on yourself and feel like you don’t have a choice.

Now, strike out the word “should” in the sentences and substitute it with “could”. Again, read the sentences aloud and experience how you feel. You will notice that the altered vocabulary gives you a sense of freedom — of choice.

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