Being kind is a choice. So is being happy. You get to choose the way you show up in the world.
This might sound like the kind of glib, “easy for you to say” advice that you see in social media memes. But in my experience, there’s a lot of truth to the notion that we have a choice about our actions. We can choose to respond mindfully, rather than react from fear or upset.
It’s also true that some really awful or super frustrating stuff can happen to us in life, and that the resulting emotions can be overwhelming. So how do you choose to respond in a way that aligns with your deepest values?
First, figure out what those values are.
In Brené Brown’s book ”Dare to Lead” she urges readers to choose from a list of commonly-cited values. Most people are naturally drawn to pick 10 to 15 values from this long list, but Brown asks us to pick just two.
When you get into a situation where you’re under pressure, it’s going to be much easier to run your responses through the lens of one or two key values than it is to try and remember a whole laundry list. Describing what’s most important to you in just two words will make it easier to stay true to yourself, even in a crisis. (My two core values are love and learning, in case you’re curious).
Next, practice being aware of your power to choose.
Choice’s best friend is awareness. When you cultivate awareness, you gift yourself with a millisecond-long pause in which to notice that you’ve fallen into an old pattern of thinking. That tiny window of space is a game-changer.
Witnessing your own reaction is a powerful step. When you become aware that you’re being triggered, you immediately understand that you can choose your response. You’re able to run that choice through the lens of those core values you hold most dear.
In my experience, when you cultivate awareness over a longer stretch of time, it becomes easier to turn toward joy. You take things less personally. You’re able to stay centered in the midst of turmoil – and to return to center when you find yourself off-balance.
This choice to stay true to yourself isn’t something you make once. It’s a choice you make many times each day, until it becomes a habit. Embracing the power – and practice – of choice brings you closer to your authentic self. When the way you show up in the world harmonizes with your most cherished inner values, you’re a force to be reckoned with!
It’s also a whole lot more fun. Try it!