You Choose What You Get

Believe it or Not- It's Your Choice!

Instead of “You can’t always get what you want,” The Rolling Stones should have called their song “You DO always get what you want.”

Because, brace yourself.  If you are unhappy with any part of your life, there’s a good chance you chose it.  I can see you shrugging your shoulders and smirking at me, but hear me out.  It was hard for me to admit to myself, too, but most things that present themselves as a source of anxiety or fear or unhappiness are that way because the alternative is worse.  Whether subconsciously or knowingly, we are deriving more pleasure out of what we see as misery than we are from the other option or options in our lives at that moment.

I certainly understand that some things put us on the outer edge of what we can handle.  Sometimes it’s physical (maybe you have been involved in an accident and can’t perform the work you love).  Sometimes it’s emotional.  (maybe you’ve lost someone or something very close to you)  Or maybe it’s psychological (something happened to you as a child that is creating a barrier to growth and self-fulfillment).  I can argue- and if I get around to it before boring you to death, I’ll state my case- that in even those scenarios, we choose to be unhappy.

It’s really a simple equation.  Imagine a see-saw.  On one side you have something you really, really like.  On the other side you have something you like a whole, whole lot.  On one side you have about one dozen.  On the other side you have about twelve.  What I’m saying is that whenever we have some cognitive dissonance, it’s because we are struggling with two things that give us close to equal pleasure.  Or we at least think they do.  If one were considerably more favorable than the other, the choice would be easy.  You would have no anxiety, lose no sleep.  If the decision was between doughnuts or broccoli, it would be an easy choice, right?  Similarly, being fit with six-pack abs is preferable to being overweight and breathing heavy after walking one flight of stairs.  But what about the doughnut versus the abs?  The choice is not as easy.  What about getting an “A” on your final exam versus sleeping comfortably in bed?  An equally difficult decision.  The point is that even though we want to look better in our jeans, at the current time we like and prefer the taste of the doughnuts or pizza.  In my earlier analogy, the see-saw; the doughnuts and pizza are a little bit heavier.  (But only a little bit; again, if it were much, much better, we wouldn’t feel any guilt or internal conflict)  If, on the other hand, we can imagine how good it would feel to get an “A” in that English class, it might outweigh the joy of a good night’s sleep.

It’s really that simple.  The point you stop eating junk food is when fitting into that bathing suit in the summer is more important than the 10 minutes of pleasure derived from a glazed pastry with a glass of milk.  Again, it’s really that simple.  Simplistic in the formula, not in the execution I admit.  But, if the motivation is great enough and the shift is made in severe enough an emotional or psychological manner, the change can be instant.  Smokers who are told they will die if they don’t quit suddenly kick the habit.  Tired and yawning, staring at the comfortable beds next to the desks in their dorm rooms, students suddenly get a burst of energy and are able to perform all-nighters.  Happens all the time.

Again, it comes from a shift in the balance of the two battling desires.  Even (or especially) in our most vulnerable states this is true.  Hard to say because I also fall prey to it, but we even choose to be upset, worried, or down on ourselves.  People who lack confidence prefer the security of staying in their ‘bubble’ to the possibility of happiness that awaits them if they open up.  Those who have lost a loved one gain comfort from the pity they receive from others and so choose to continue to wallow in their sadness.

It’s a stark reality that is hard to face.  Owning up to and letting go of those negative feelings will leave a void.  But once you open your eyes and heart to receive that truth, you realize that your life is in your control.  An exhilarating, uplifiting, and liberating feeling follows and you can move on in positive ways.

It was once said, after all, that happiness is determined by the amount of control you perceive you have over your life.  More importantly, with that power, you can choose what you want.  Oh yeah, you already do.

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About bbluford
I am an executive finance professional with a love for process and application development (MS Access, Excel, Quickbooks), mostly as it relates to Accounting and Business Functions. I also love to write and share ideas with other people in this world. I'm an admitted Gym Rat who works out excessively. The best summation of me is that I love to teach and to learn.

2 Responses to You Choose What You Get

  1. Kelvin Howell says:

    Hey B… Great message and what you have stated is so true… This was a great message for me to start my birthday week… Thanks for sending this out… Love you man… K

  2. Vanessa Cortes says:

    Great blog B!! thanks! Keep em coming!

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