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Words from Winterbilt

The choices we make

Shannon Bohrer

(5/2015) We like to think that we are independent, we are in charge of our own lives and our success has been because of ourselves. It is nice to believe that we are self-made, through our own energy, education, resolve and choices. As was once said; "luck is when opportunity meets preparedness." As one with experience, meaning I am older, I think it nice that I have been successful because of who I am and the choices in life that I made. Of course, if one has not been successful, maybe it had something to do with bad luck.

The choices we make are important, but sometimes itís not the choice we made, but the ones we did not make. Early in our life we donít make choices, someone makes them for us. Where we were born and to whom we were born and the family we have is not a choice, but it could be instrumental in our successes or failures. There is always the old argument of nature v. nurture. The problem with this argument is that both can be right, but we donít always know which and when or why. Most would at least agree that our early life does influence the choices we later make, but to what degree is unknown.

I was very fortunate in that after high school I applied for, was accepted and then went to college. Looking back that was a good choice on my part, mostly a good choice. I only applied to one school and then I was surprised when accepted, and since I did not have a job at that time, I went. Although while in college I had multiple jobs to pay for the education. After college I applied for one job and was accepted and worked there for most on my adult life. I think I made a great choice with the job that had, but I also believe I had some luck when hired. I knew that many others applied for that same position and were not hired. I like to think that I had better qualifications, which is why I was selected. So conversely, if you apply for and are selected for a position, should you can be thankful that someone better qualified did not apply for the same job?

Making choices, as in my case with no alternatives, is easy and worked well for me. But in many cases we have to choose among a number of alternatives. While we all like to think we make good decisions about our choices and decisions, making one choice usually means there was another choice we did not make. While we examine the choices we make and often attribute our success to that choice, we rarely examine the choices we did not take, the road not taken. What happens if someone has several choices, do we think about what would have happened if we took our second or third choice? The path not taken the choice we did not take the career we skipped, could that influence our perceptions. The reality is that most of us do not know. I do know some people who seem to regret many things and are unhappy with many of their choices in life. Of course many of them attribute the choices to bad luck. Then again, for some people the choice does not matter, they just like to complain.

Our political choice in elections is often a choice in reverse. Sometimes politicians are not elected because they are liked so much, but because the opponent is disliked more. On election night, in any election, we always hear the winner thanking the constituents for their support, which sounds sincere. Then, the politician is questioned by the news media about their strategy and how they won. The fast thinking politician talks about the difference between them and the competition, how their message got out, how they had strong grass root support and how their campaign organization was just outstanding. While watching this, the loser of the election thinks s/he lost because of the unfair smear campaign by the winner. Often, the voter that voted for the winner did so not because of the message or the campaign adds, but because the one they voted for is not as bad as the other candidate. Maybe optimism is voting for the same person or party, expecting something different.

Some choices are more important than others. Who we marry is a big one. Of course that choice is dependent upon being married. I was very lucky that my wife choose me; at least thatís what she tells me. I was also very lucky that she went along with me as to where I wanted to live and our life style. Having a wife that is truly a partner and best friend certainly adds to my positive outlook. But, early in our lives when we make important choices, do we really have any idea of how important they will be?

While we think that our choices are important, and sometimes they are. I also think that sometimes we put too much into decision making, as if everything we do will affect us our entire life. How many times have you said, or someone you know said, "This will be the most important decision in my life." And at that time, you may have thought that. Of course as the years go by we often make numerous "Most important decisions in our life." While we do make these important decisions, the real impact of the importance is sometimes unknown when our decisions are made. The knowledge of how important our decisions are, both good and bad, often takes a long time, even years.

A long time ago someone told me that the most important decision to be made is to be happy, or to be sad. I truly did not think much of this advice at that time. But as the years go by I believe it was very good advice and it is a decision, a choice. To be happy, you have to be happy with whom you are and where you are and it really is that simple - from my perspective. As I have grown older I like to think that I am wiser. I am sure that some would argue with that, but thatís their perspective.

"Each significant choice we make involved both a commitment and a loss; so choose your path carefully at every major fork in the road, for the sum of your choices will shape your life." From the book the Gift of Adversity, by Dr. Rosenthal.

An excellent book, from my perspective.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer