Every day we have choice. From the moment we wake in the morning to the end of our day, from early childhood until we lose our reason or die we have choice. Choice of children’s school. The holidays to take. The subjects to take in school. The career path to follow, or not. Friends, life partners. The food we eat. The interests we cultivate. It seems life is a wonderful tapestry of choice.

As we grow and become more sophisticated we learn that how we choose to see the world has a major bearing on factors such as happiness and success. Is that glass half-empty or half full. We can learn alternative ways of viewing the world that enable us to manage our moods and wellbeing. In any given situation, whether we take offence is a choice, and there appears much evidence in the public domain of the variety of norms people apply to this.

Choices also have to be made with some caution. The path we take today may well dictate the range of choices open to us tomorrow. Whilst we “don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket”. Neither do we want to leave ourselves with a bewildering range of options without the necessary decision making power to choose the option that is best for us.

The Psychologist Erik Eriksson developed a theory of development that people go through over the course of a lifetime. For the final stage he said “As we grow older (65+ years) and become senior citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity and explore life as a retired person”. He believed that “if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness”. AS old age, means we probably will not have the opportunity to rectify the consequences I think I would rather put that extra effort into making the best choices for me whilst I still can.
For any pedants reading this, yes of course our choices are also mediated by our circumstances but whilst we may have little or no control/choice as to what the world throws at us we have every control/choice as to how we respond.

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Martin Coffey

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Career Management Skills Developer, Researcher Development Team.

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