Heartstyles blog

What is Choice?

We spend a lot of our lives making choices.  We choose a flat white rather than a latte; we choose a career; we choose to learn, not judge; we choose to be happy – all different categories of our experience that admit of choices.  Epictetus is right in the sense that the power of choice is within us and that we carry it with us.  He uses the term “reasoned choice” because for him, reason is the primary basis for all decisions.

But in practice our choices derive from many motives: emotional, financial, social, personal and so on.  What if we could gather a set of defensible principles that we could use to explain our choices to ourselves and others?  Imagine giving an explication of how we behaved not just in formal situations like work but in a personal and family context.

Why did I choose to say that, do that, think that? We should be able to answer those questions with reference to a way of being. This is where a strong culture, or a strong faith, or set of beliefs can help us; and particularly when life is uncertain. Most of our choices are not that dramatic. Our lives may not necessarily depend on what we choose. But the quality of our lives, and those around us, does.

One way to create space for our choice in how we behave in any situation is to follow the “Situation + Thinking = Behaviour (S+T=B)” formula to explore the question “Why do I do the things I do?” For every situation, based on our thinking, we will behave in a particular way. So, to develop more considered choices, ask yourself, “What is my thinking in this situation? What is happening for me when I behave this way?”, and “What is triggering me in this situation to behave this way?” More importantly, “Did I choose to behave this way?”

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