What are better choices? If we can assume that a choice is meant to bring us to a desired state of being rather than to a less desirable condition, then first we need to consider what the destination is that we hope to arrive at through our choice, and then the ‘right’ direction should be more clear. No one else, though, can tell us what is the ‘right’ course to take. A better choice is one that ‘rings true’ with your own deepest self.
I remember when I had a choice to make of what college to attend after high school. I had applied to and been accepted by three universities in the State University of New York system. I visited all three but that only made my choice more difficult, as each had special qualities I liked. Someone gave me a good idea which helped a lot. I wrote positive and negative considerations in two columns for all 3 choices and then I looked to see objectively which choice had the most positive aspects listed. But then, I asked myself how I felt about that choice, and I knew instinctively that the one with the most ‘positives’ was not the one my heart was interested in. I chose the college closest to home because I wanted to maintain some cherished friendships. That proved to be obviously the right choice for me, down the road.
Here is a poem by William Butler Yeats about ‘better choices’:
His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’
Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need, Friends that have been friends indeed;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘ What then?’
All his happier dreams came true —
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and wits about him drew;
‘What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’
The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’
Yeats’ poem has an almost eerie quality to it in relation to the matter of discerning ‘better choices’. How can we choose proactively rather than having to look back in retrospect to see whether our choice has led to personal fulfilment, or not? Some of you might be familiar with the book The Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton. This book puts the topic of better choices into a much larger scope. It deals –(whatever your personal approach, this book brings in reincarnation as described under hypnosis by people being regressed)–with the question of whether in a given lifetime we have fulfilled our goal or learned our lessons of that lifetime! A more popular example of this idea is in the fun movie “Defending Your Life”, one of my favorites. Here, Albert Brooks plays a man who never takes risks, and in death he is put on trial, literally, to defend whether he made enough progress to “move on” or not. Meanwhile he has fallen in love in this afterlife realm with a character played by Meryl Streep who has been a real hero in her life so she will obviously graduate to a higher plane! I like the general question being posed by both of these, and Yeats’ poem too. What is your life purpose? Why are YOU Here, in the largest sense, not just day to day?
My notion is that we should not wait until we are elderly, or until we pass on, to ask ourselves what we would really like to be fulfilling NOW, with THIS life, whatever the afterlife might have in store. (And BTW, what might be fulfilling to one might be as simple as an act of kindness or learning to give love unconditionally.) Here and Now we do have some control over our conscious choices. For myself I intend to ‘accomplish’ all I can spiritually, and take that forward.
Do you have a Life Dream? That may be all the North Star you need to arrive at your own better choices.