Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “I am who I am today, because of the choices I made yesterday.”
You may choose to get on an airplane to London, but once the plane takes off, you can no longer choose a different destination; you’ll have to get off in London. Still, you can make new choices as to what you do while you’re on the plane and after your arrival.
This simple analogy says much about life. We are responsible for our choices. Whatever reactions we are presently undergoing due to past choices, we can choose to respond in a way that will be beneficial for ourselves and those around us. That is how we shape our future.
Wisdom is nourished by accepting good guidance, learning from mistakes, then moving forward in a positive direction. The tendency to stagnate due to guilt, frustration or depression can be overcome by uplifting company and positive choices.
It is important that we establish goals, values, and priorities in our lives. Like a captain in a ship at sea keeps his attention on his compass, we need to be attentive to
our moral compass, especially to help us navigate through stormy times.
On the boat of life, you may not have control over which way the wind blows, but you do have control over the sails and how you are going to respond to the winds of change. We cannot always change our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond. If we focus too much on what cannot be changed it leads to frustration, however if we focus on what we can change, it leads to growth.
Choice of words can make or break a relationship, choice of timing can affect the outcome of our pursuits, a choice of diet and exercise can determine our health, and a choice of our consciousness can change our experience of life. Our choices create impressions in the mind that enable us to act beneficially even in challenging times, almost like a second nature. If we perspire in a time of peace, it can protect us from bleeding in a time of conflict, in other words if we make the right choices when things are going well, it gives us inner strength to make the right choices when things are not going so well.
Srila Prabhupada has written, “The greatness of a person can be estimated by how they respond to provoking situations.”