What choices do you make moment by moment?
Life can be conceived as a continuous succession of choices. All the time, from the moment we wake up until we go to bed, we are observing reality and opting between different options.
The spanish word "elegir" (to choose), etymologically, is very interesting, as it derives from the Latin "e-ligere," which means to choose, to read, combined with the verb "e-ex." This implies that, as human beings, we have the ability to "read" reality and decide between which options to choose.
Turning this word into a verb means being aware that at every moment, we are active choosers and not mere passive recipients of what life offers us.
Thus, life would be like a grand "banquet," and as conscious selectors, we choose what resonates with our preferences. However, sometimes, from a state of full unawareness, we simply repeat the same things, neglecting or ignoring the vast array of possibilities that we leave behind every time we choose the same, instead of opting for something different.
Life is like a grand "banquet," and as conscious selectors, we choose what resonates with our preferences. However, sometimes, from a state of complete unawareness, we simply repeat the same things, ignoring the vast array of possibilities that we leave behind every time we choose the same, instead of opting for something different.
Pause to reflect. Reflext to choose
As human beings, we have the capacity to pause and reflect. Unlike other sentient beings, we possess consciousness that allows us to discern and choose how we want to live. Therefore, according to Buddhism, obtaining a "human life" is a privilege if we train our minds to make conscious decisions.
We have the possibility to "veto" mere repetition and enable an interrogation that will make a difference between rigidity and flexibility, creativity and repetition, fixation of personality or the expansion of our greatest potential.
Without reflection, making choices can be reduced to mere repetition, leading to passive choices that keep us stuck in the same patterns. Even if we refuse to choose between one possibility or another, we cannot avoid the inherent responsibility of being human: "to decide." In other words, those who do not consciously choose their life are unconsciously making a choice, and that is a danger we can avoid by actively taking charge of the paths we want to take.
When we paralyze ourselves and stay in the same place, we passively reinforce the choice to remain anchored there. When we are in "A," without choosing "B," "C," or "D" out of fear of making a mistake, our choice remains "A," even though we may fantasize about avoiding the risk of choosing. We fail to realize that often the greatest risk is staying in the same place we detest.
By avoiding the anxiety of actively choosing, we reinforce the existential anguish of staying in the same place: an old way of being, a clumsy way of communicating, a way of being, feeling, or reacting. When we do not commit to trying other ways, we reinforce the same identity that condemns us.
Knowing that there is no way to escape the responsibility of choosing, there is a second fundamental aspect to consider: "Not every active choice is necessarily constructive."
Progressive Choices and Regressive Choices
There are two types of alternatives that undoubtedly lead to very different destinies: Progressive Choices and Regressive Choices. As their names suggest, the former encourages growth, while the latter reinforces a limited way of being.
1- Progresive Choices
A Progressive Choice is one that encourages us to unfold, taking us out of the "comfortable" and resigned stagnation, as it impacts reality and modifies our own environment, generating a "new personal flavor."
What is a "new personal flavor," you may wonder? Well, it's that intimate sensation of realizing that we did something different than before. It's like trying a new dish and experiencing a new taste. Sometimes, we find ourselves feeling "bland" and can spice up our actions with qualities and values that were previously unknown to us.
We can choose progressive choices and decide to add instead of subtract. Suddenly, the miracle happens, and we stop being predictable to ourselves and to the context that surrounds us, which often takes us for granted.
If we always responded rudely, kindness may appear.
If impulsivity defined our way of acting, the capacity for reflection can make its appearance.
If intolerance was always a personal trait, patience may timidly emerge.
A Progressive Choice always invites us to improve, to transcend the boundaries of our limited personality, and to expand the repertoire of our stereotyped responses. When we opt for progressive choices, we direct our actions towards becoming the person we want to be.Elecciones Regresivas
2- Regressive choices
A Regressive Choice, on the other hand, is one that reinforces itself. We imagine change from a magical thinking perspective, believing that 'everything will happen without us doing anything...'. We claim to want to modify certain patterns of our personality, yet we don't do anything different or creative. In other words, faced with the same situation, we repeat the same actions.
Therefore, every decision must be accompanied by the following reflection:
"Are you opting for a Progressive Choice or a Regressive Choice?
Moving forward requires firm willpower and clear determination to act differently than we always do.
What we wish to modify in our personality doesn't come naturally
The new requires effort; the only thing that comes naturally is more of the same behavior we're used to. The brain is quite lazy and will repeat the familiar if we don't make it work. Sometimes, we resist doing something we consider "forced," as it may feel inauthentic, insincere, or fake. However, it's worth asking ourselves: Is what we repeat and "comes from within" really ours, or is it just part of our conditioning?
No change happens "naturally" without the intervention of our full consciousness. Choosing growth and learning requires our careful WILLPOWER. And this beautiful word must be reclaimed and valued, alongside many other words that have a bad reputation but should be considered and treasured: discipline, perseverance, consistency, and effort are all part of true personal transformation.
Exerting willpower and effort to improve is the most dignified act we can perform against the magical thinking of this century, which claims that what "doesn't come from within isn't authentic."
We are truly authentic when we, through our will, choose the constructive over more of the same. What emerges from willpower can, over time, become the most beautiful and natural act of self-modification, instead of continuing to make excuses and justifications by saying "it's not us if we do this and not that." After all, who are we? Well, the result of the decisions we make, right? What we consciously decide to do with what we claim to be is what truly reflects the identity that represents us. Personality is as malleable as clay in art.
We are truly authentic when we, through our will, choose the constructive over more of the same. What emerges from willpower can become the most beautiful and natural act of self-modification, instead of continuing to make excuses and justifications by saying "it's not us if we do this and not that."
There are no giant leaps; there are small steps. There are no major decisions, only the sum of small choices. We can decide moment by moment between Progressive Choices and Regressive Choices. Undoubtedly, our favorable destiny depends on choosing the former over the latter.
I encourage you, now that you can differentiate between these two alternatives in life, to ask yourself with each decision: Will this choice I'm about to make add value to my life?
I invite you to increase the greatest asset you can treasure: the ability to choose the life you want to live. The opposite is just repeating, repeating, and repeating... And that resembles survival more than living with full self-awareness.