I was listening to a talk radio show in my car while driving the other day.
I don’t usually listen to TV or radio talk shows as the moderators tend to be boring or opinionated and usually cut off anyone who seems to share my opinion on whatever the subject is.
But my car has a hands-free feature on the steering wheel that allows me to change the radio station by simply touching a button and I hit it by mistake.
Not really knowing how this feature works, I had a choice: I could pull over to the side and scroll through the owner’s manual and get back to my station or I could listen to the station now playing.
I kept driving and it was interesting because the talk show host was talking about choices and how we have arrived where we are in life today as a result of the choices we have made over the years. Our station in life, our health, our financial position and our relationship status has all been determined by us.
I noticed an immediate flaw in this theory. If we accepted this premise, there would be no one to blame for who we have become.
To think that I would have to take responsibility for the times my life went off the rails was a big stretch. I have become very used to assigning blame to “them,” whoever they may be.
The theory is that at every point in our lives we had the choice to say yes or to say no or to take the path to the left or the path to the right and if we ignored our misgivings or second thoughts and went against our gut feelings the results were usually negative rather than positive.
Certainly we were often at the mercy of parents, teachers, professors, mentors or spouses, and yet, at the final moment of decision, the choice was ours.
Over the years we have learned to compromise or water down our expectations to please others and for the most part we will live a well-adjusted productive life if we accept that we have consciously made those compromises.
The challenge arises when we say to ourselves, “Poor me. Look at where I am today — broke, overweight, alone, smoking or drinking too much, in a crappy job. How did my life get so bad?”
Nobody likes to take the time to look back in the past and admit there was a point where we could have made another decision.
The host says there is hope for those people. The choice they have today is to stay the same and become a burden to society or to say, “Today is the day I accept that my life is my responsibility and today I am going to make the choice to change it.
“I will become more optimistic, more forgiving, and open to change. My glass will be half full not half empty anymore. I alone will decide how happy and successful I will be from now on.”
I came to the end of my drive and sat there for a minute thinking that, yes, I am now who I chose to be. They were my decisions.
I got my radio back on the oldies station and the Eagles were singing, “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
At least that’s what McGregor says.