C.R.E1: People’s choices and the choices of Jesus 1

This unit covers the choices and circumstances that people have control over and those that are beyond their control

Circumstances in life;

There are many things in our lives we can change if we are not satisfied with them. For example, if we are overweight, we can change that. If we hate our job, we can change that. If we are not happy being in a certain relationship, we can change that. If we want to have more friends, we can change that. The choice is ours. However, it is important to know that there are some things in life that we cannot change no matter how hard we try. Wisdom is knowing what we can change and what we cannot. We can then focus our efforts on changing what we can and accepting what we cannot. Doing this leads to peace, serenity, happiness, and freedom.

  1. ‐ Those that are chosen.There are certain situations and circumstances in life that that we have control over. Often, it is quite simple to make changes, but we let laziness, procrastination or fear to stand in our way.You might be surprised to hear that many of the changes you would like to make are within you reach, and often, within your immediate reach.For example, you might always complain that you have no time to read. If reading is so important to you, what’s so difficult to arrange your day so that you can find the time? You can always get up half an hour earlier in the morning, or give up half an hour of watching TV in favor of reading a book.Do you want to learn a foreign language, swim twice a week or arrange your wardrobe? These are simple to accomplish goals, but you might always seek excuses why you don’t have the time for them. You simply do not give them any priority, and prefer to stick to your comfort zone. Here is a list of 50 examples of things you can choose  and you have complete control over.1. How many times you smile today.
    2. How much effort you exert at work.
    3. Your level of honesty.
    4. How well you prepare.
    5. How you act on your feelings.
    6. How often you say “thank you.”
    7. When you pull out your wallet for luxuries.
    8. Whether or not you give someone the benefit of the doubt.
    9. How you interpret situations.
    10. Whether or not you compete with people around you.
    11. How often you notice and appreciate small acts of kindness.Image result for circumstances
    12. Whether you listen or wait to talk.
    13. When you walk away from a conversation.
    14. How nice you are to yourself in your head.
    15. Whether you think positive or negative thoughts.
    16. Whether or not you form expectations of people.
    17. The type of food you eat.
    18. When you answer someone’s question—or email or call.
    19. How much time you spend worrying.
    20. How many new things you try.
    21. How much exercise you get.
    22. How many times you swear in traffic.
    23. Whether or not you plan for the weather.
    24. How much time you spend trying to convince people you’re right.
    25. How often you think about your past.
    26. How many negative articles you read.
    27. The attention you give to your loved ones when you see them.
    28. How much you enjoy the things you have right now.
    29. Whether or not you communicate something that’s on your mind.
    30. How clean or uncluttered you keep your space.
    31. What books you read.
    32. How well you network at social events.
    33. How deeply you breathe when you experience stress.
    34. How many times you admit you don’t know something—and then learn something new.
    35. How often you use your influence to help people instead of focusing on building your influence.
    36. When you ask for help.
    37. Which commitments you keep and cancel.
    38. How many risks you take.
    39. How creative/innovative you are in your thinking.
    40. How clear you are when you explain your thoughts.
    41. Whether you formulate a new plan or act on your existing one.
    42. How much information you get before you make a decision.
    43. How much information you share with people.
    44. Whether you smoke or drink (unless you’re an alcoholic, in which case I am not qualified to offer you advice).
    45. Whether or not you judge other people.
    46. Whether you smell good or bad (unless you have some strange resistance to soap and deodorant).
    47. How much of what other people say you believe.
    48. How quickly you try again after you fall.
    49. How many times you say “I love you.”
    50. How much rest you get at night.
  2. ‐ Those that are not chosen. The WeatherHave you noticed how many people complain about the weather because it is not to their liking? Let’s face it: we have no control over mother nature so we might as well accept it. If it rains on your birthday, make the best of it.What Other People ThinkContrary to what many people believe, we cannot change what other people think, including about ourselves. Yet countless numbers of people try in vain to change the opinions and thoughts of others.Image result for circumstancesWhat Other People DoWe also have no control over what others do. Their actions are independent of our own. Despite this, some people spend so much time and effort trying to get their spouses, family members and friends to act differently. You are the only one who can decide and control your actions, so why should it be any different with others?What Other People FeelWe can try to affect the feelings of others but, since feelings are the result of thoughts (remember that we cannot change the way other people think), we ultimately cannot change how people feel. For example even if we give someone a gift, how that gift is received and perceived by the other person dictates how he or she feels. Of course, it is good to have empathy and be sensitive to the feelings of others, but, ultimately, we have no control over what others feel.

    What Other People Say

    People can say whatever they choose and we have no control over that. We only have control over our own words. It is pointless to get upset over the words of others because it is not a reflection on us. People will say what they want to say and we cannot change that.

    The Past

    This is a big one. The past is forever lost and there is no way we can recover it. All of us have made mistakes and the wisest thing we can do is to learn from them. But we cannot undo what is done. Dwelling on the past is one of the main causes of the regret that many people feel. We only have the present moment so we should accept the past and move on. We will never get the past back.

    Getting Old

    Every single day of our lives, we get older and one day closer to death. It is inevitable. We cannot change this, even though some people fight this phenomenon. Aging is a way to remind ourselves that time is precious.

    Our Family

    We do not choose our family members. We had no choice in being born and who our father, mother, siblings, and extended family members are. Like it or not, we will be forever linked that way. If we want to be happy, we need to accept who our family is. This does not mean that we must put up with an abusive father or family member. It merely means that we cannot change who our family is.

    Where We Came From

    Just as we cannot change our past, we also cannot change our origin, where we came from, our background, etc. Where we came from does not limit what we can become or achieve, but our background is something we have no control over.

    Pleasing Everyone

    This is another big one. We absolutely cannot please everyone. It is impossible. While we may be able to please some people some of the time, that is the best we can do. Many people waste their whole lives trying to please everyone, often at the expense of their own happiness. The sooner we stop trying to please everyone in our lives, the sooner we can be liberated and focus on our own happiness.

    Keeping Up With The Joneses

    In today’s overly materialistic world, a lot of people focus on keeping up with their neighbours, friends, and society at large. They want to be better than everyone, or at least on par. That leads them to constantly want a nicer car, a bigger house, a better neighbourhood to live in, a bigger diamond ring, a more exclusive credit card, etc. Accept it: there will always be someone richer, taller, more famous, etc. Each of us is unique and we should love ourselves for who we are rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses.

    People Who Have Wronged Us

    All of us have been hurt by someone or something in our lives. These wounds often hurt years after they were inflicted and many people carry heavy grudges as a result. We cannot change what has happened. Even if we get revenge (which never heals our wounds), it is impossible to reverse the clock and undo the situation. Hate and the need for retribution only weigh us down and impede on our happiness. We should accept what has transpired, learn from our past, and move on.

    Lost Time

    “I should have…”, “If only I had done this…”. These are common phrases that express sadness and regret over lost time. Lost time is gone forever and we will never regain it. Ironically, many people waste the only time they have (the present) thinking about the time they have lost.

    Making Someone Love Us

    I have been heartbroken before just as most people have. Sometimes we love others who do not love us in return. This can also pertain to non-romantic love. Real love does not demand that we are loved in return, even if that is what we hope for. Genuine love is unconditional. It is impossible to change someone and make them love us. We can buy them roses, give them gifts, try to please them in every way, but we cannot make them love us. In spite of this, some people spend all their time and energy trying to earn the love of others.

    Our Looks, Height

    We can dress more stylishly and exercise to lose weight and get bigger muscles, but we cannot change the basic way we look. Our height, skin color, body type, and looks are features that we should learn to accept and love. We have all heard about people who are obsessed with plastic surgery, hair implants and the like. These people are never satisfied with the way they look. The more we accept ourselves the way we are, the happier we will be. Ironically, this self-acceptance and confidence also make us more attractive to others.

    Natural Disasters

    Just like the weather, we have no control over natural disasters. We can prepare for them as best as possible, but we cannot control when or how they will occur. I have experienced large earthquakes and two major hurricanes in my life and there was nothing I could have done to prevent them. I experienced some upheaval, power outages, and other inconveniences, but I had no choice other than to accept them. Worrying about natural disasters, as some people do, is pointless.

    Traffic

    Traffic is a fact of life, especially in metropolitan areas. When we make the choice to reside in an area because of its benefits, we also have to accept that we will experience traffic. When I drive during rush hour and get stuck in traffic, I play my music, listen to an audio book, enjoy the conversation with a friend, make a phone call, or just pay attention to my surroundings and enjoy it. It is a part of life that we have to accept. The alternative is to get frustrated, impatient, and angry. Nothing good ever emerges from those feelings.

    The Economy

    While we all are a part of the economy, most of us cannot significantly control its current state (maybe unless we are George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or the head of the federal bank). Yet rather than accept and adapt, some people complain about the economy constantly.

    Pain

    Each of us will no doubt experience pain in our lives. This could be in the form of emotional, physical, or psychological pain. We fall down and hurt ourselves, our feelings get hurt, we face disappointments, disease, etc. It is part of life.This pain is unavoidable, but the suffering associated with it is optional. Why? Because if we accept the fact that each and every single one of us will experience pain at some point in our lives, we do not have the expectation to be pain-free. We also do not spend countless hours focusing on that pain and making the situation worse. That causes needless suffering.

    Change Itself

    Lastly, we cannot change the fact that change itself is inevitable. Much of the depression, sadness and anxiety that people feel today is because they do not accept change. Many of them are terrified of change so they cling to what they want to preserve. Whether it is health, materialism, loved ones, wealth, etc, the one thing we can be certain of is that it will not last. Change is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it. The sooner we accept the fact that everything changes at some point, the less we cling and the happier we become.

How to cope and accept those that are not chosen

Changing external situations and circumstances might not always be possible, but changing your attitude is possible.

You cannot always change situations and circumstances, but you can certainly learn to change your attitude. Instead of feeling resentful, frustrated and unhappy, you can learn to be calm, accept the situation, and not fight with it. You can try to look at the situation dispassionately, and try to find out what you can learn from it.

  • Are there people you cannot get along with at work?
  • Do you have neighbors you do not like?
  • Is your boss too demanding?

Will you leave your job or go live somewhere else because of that?

Often, by accepting the situation, it will stop bothering you, or a solution might come along.

Various situations and circumstances could be lessons you need to learn, and after learning and acknowledging the lessons, the situations and circumstances will start to change.

If you accept what you cannot change and learn to live with it, it will stop to be an issue and stop to bother it.

When you accept what you cannot change, you save yourself a lot of energy and time, and can devote your time to better things than thinking about the situation you cannot change.

Some people might misinterpret this and think that accepting situations means giving up. Others might regard acceptance as an excuse for laziness and doing nothing. This is far from the truth. Acceptance of situations that you cannot change is wisdom and not passivity, and has nothing with giving up and should not be an excuse for passivity.

You cannot change the past, and regretting and feeling bad about it is not going to change it. However, you can learn to stop dwelling on the past and move on.

If you don’t like one of your colleagues at work and you do not get along with him, anger and resentment would not help. However, you can try to be friendly and stop being resentful.

Suppose it is raining outside, but you need to go to work, go the grocery or meet friends. You cannot stop the train and you cannot fight the rain. Would you give up and stay at home, or wear a raincoat and go outside despite rain?

If it is very hot outside and you need to go somewhere, will anger and unhappiness change the weather? You can let thoughts about the weather to cause you suffering and unhappiness, and you can accept it and live with it.

When you change your attitude toward people, situations or circumstances they stop bothering you and they stop causing you suffering.

When you change your attitude, you start to feel better, you become happier, recognize opportunities to make changes, and on many occasions, the situations or circumstances you could not change, begin to change. By changing your attitude, situations and circumstances would start to change, as if by magic.

Are there any tools that can help you change your attitude? Yes, there are a few, such as repeating affirmations, practicing visualization and developing inner peace.

Development of persons requires understanding of goals.

Life Is Not Always Fair Sometimes in life, we might be glanced over for the coveted job promotion, have to wait in line while others are shown to the red carpet, get unfairly judged, get rear-ended in traffic even if we were driving safely, etc. We have no control over a lot of it. We are best served by focusing on what we can change instead. Life is not always fair, but it is still wonderful anyway. Developing yourself requires setting goals and determining the direction of your life.

If unchangeable circumstances seem to be controlling your life, try the following:

  • Focus on what you can control. For example, you may not have full control over your health, but can you exercise, eat healthful food, and get sufficient rest?

  • Clarify what you would like to accomplish in life. Break it down into small steps. Try to spend at least a little time each day working toward your goals.

  • Do tasks, even small ones, that give you a sense of control. Clean the kitchen table, and wash the dishes. Dress neatly. Do the most important tasks first thing in the morning.

  • Look at the possible benefits of your circumstances. For example, does your situation give you greater insight into ways of coping with difficulties? Can you use this insight to help others?

To conclude, if we want to be truly happy and at peace, it is essential that we accept the things that we cannot change and have no control over. Instead, we should focus on the aspects of our lives that we want to and actually can change.

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