“Change what cannot be accepted and accept what cannot be changed.” – Reinhold Niebuhr –
Every single day we make choices and decisions from what colour socks to wear to how to vote in elections and all kinds of things in between. Having choices is a blessing we often take for granted. When we truly have no control over our situation; when we truly have no choices it can lead to feeling trapped and frustrated.
However, we do have a choice regarding how we react to challenging situations. I really love the idea put forth by a prisoner in Auschwitz that the last choice granted to us as human beings is the right to choose how we react to any given situation. I am sorry to say I do not recall the prisoner’s name but his thoughts moved me. Under great duress and horrific conditions he refused to give up on the inherent goodness of humanity – even while suffering atrocities – but kept to his resolve to stay true to his convictions. The gist of his thoughts is that even though others may take everything from you, including your physical freedom, your physical comfort, you can still maintain freedom of thought and freedom of choice regarding your reaction. I greatly admire this man whose name I cannot recall. Sometimes the decision not to react takes great courage and bravery, and perhaps, a great deal of inner strength and faith in something greater than self.
Today it seems we are swamped by negative reactions from road rage to general rude behavior. But we each can make the choice to be patient; to be kind; to be understanding; to be compassionate. We can each invest in peace instead of the myriad little wars we engage in. Life can be challenging at times, but it can also be very good – depending on the choices we make.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart we cling to anything – anger, anxiety or possessions – we cannot be free.” – Thich Nhat Hanh