Perception is a Matter of Choice

From 2002 to 2012, I shared my life with the love of my life: a plush-coat Czechoslovakian Shepherd named Kona. He meant everything to me, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

He wasn’t the dog I was “supposed” to get. I wanted a solid black male. When the litter that I had placed a deposit on was born, there were two males, and one of them was all black. See, I told myself, it was meant to be. I had first pick of the males, and so I chose Black Boy. Fortunately, the Universe knew better than I did.

About a week after the puppies were born, the breeder asked me if I would consider taking the other male. Apparently, the family who had also placed a deposit on a male from this litter used to have a solid black that had passed away just a year before, and they were still heartbroken. “The kids have their hearts set on getting another black Shepherd,” the breeder told me. “So would you consider taking the other male?” I certainly wasn’t going to add to some child’s heartache, so I agreed to let them have “my” puppy.

And so, in the end, I got the dog that I really was supposed to get. Because he would turn out to be the dog that would change my life.

I love dogs. Charles Schultz said it best when he declared, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Although in my case, “happiness” didn’t begin to describe how I felt about my Kona. Because what I felt for Kona took my breath away.

At night, I would lay next to him, listening to his quiet breathing, and sometimes stroking his long, soft fur. Every single time, my heart would fill with joy and gratitude that such a wonderful dog had come into my life.

Kona, on the other hand, didn’t feel quite the same way. He would sleepily crack open one eye and give me that look that said, “Yes, Mommy, I love you to the moon and back, too. But, I’d like to go back to sleep now, if you don’t mind.”

Life was unendingly good.

But then, in 2008, Kona was diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. The prognosis for dogs with Kona’s diagnosis was bleak at best; one vet told me that the longest any of his patients had lived after the diagnosis was three weeks. He also said that the dogs usually died instantly and with no warning—sometimes in their sleep or, more often than not, while playing or even just taking an easy walk around the block. He warned me that the only chance Kona had of surviving was to keep him quiet, avoiding stress, stimulation, excitement, and exercise of any kind. And he cautioned me not to get my hopes up for any reason because Kona’s situation was, in fact, hopeless, and only a miracle could save him.

To say I was devastated doesn’t come close to describing how I felt. I barely heard a word the vet was telling me, and I cried for two days.

I kept trying to imagine my life without him, but that turned out to be as hopeless as Kona’s prognosis. After all, Kona was my protector (I lived alone in a remote area, but never felt afraid), my constant companion, my confidant. My soul-puppy.

And now he was going to be taken from me?

No, I thought, I can’t bear that.

And so, I decided that I had no choice. Whether or not I liked it, whether or not Kona liked it, we would have to do exactly what Kona’s vet said had to be done if Kona was going to “live,” even though it didn’t seem like it would be much of a life for either of us. And, having decided this, I didn’t know which was worse—thinking that I had no choice, or picturing how awful and fearful every moment would be from this moment on.

But then, something miraculous did happen. Just not the miracle I was “supposed” to get.

I thought about something that Kami Garcia wrote in Beautiful Darkness, “We don’t get to choose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.”

And at that moment, I realized that I did, in fact, have a choice: I might not be able to change the situation, but I could change my perception of the situation. And, simply by choosing to change my perception, I could also change how I felt about it and what I could do about it.

And so, I wondered, if that’s true, then what choices do I really have?

Well, I could choose to let this news fill me with fear every remaining moment I had with Kona. I could, as the vet suggested, lock him in the house, never take him for long walks again, never let him chase birds or rabbits, never leave him alone for a single moment “just in case.” The only exercise he would have from this moment forward would feel like one slow, inexorable death march.

Or. . . .

I could choose to be grateful for every remaining moment I had with him. We could go on as we always had, him racing after the rabbits, excitedly barking at the cats next door, flushing the birds out of the trees, trotting alongside me on my morning jog—aware of the possible consequences, but consciously choosing to live our lives to the fullest.

Nelson Mandela said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” And so, I chose my second option, and decided to live life as hopefully and as free from fear as possible.

Which Kona and I did—not just for three short weeks, but, miraculously, for four more spectacular years!

Which is not to say that I didn’t have to come up with a plan for facing my fears and dealing with Kona’s condition realistically for however much time we had left together. Kona had good days and bad. He saw a posse of specialists monthly, and underwent quarterly monitoring to record the rhythm of his heart. And each time we went to the vet, each time a new test was run, and I waited nervously for the results, I was faced with the same choice: see this as a blessing, not a curse. Be glad for our time together or live in constant, never-ending dread that our time was drawing to an end.

Admittedly, I am optimistic by nature. But the choices I had to make during those final four roller-coaster years with Kona went far beyond trying to keep my cup-half-full attitude. Because there were countless days when Kona’s long-term prognosis was that his cup had run dry. Nights, when I stroked his lovely fur while he was sleeping, and my heart would fill with joy and gratitude, like it always had—except that now, it was for a different reason: simply because he was still breathing.

And when each new day dawned, and Kona had survived another night, I would chose, once again, to continue on as we had the day before.

Epictetus said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. It is not so much what happens to you as how you think about what happens.”

Surely, there can be nothing more powerful, and empowering, than knowing we can choose how to perceive, and then respond to, whatever life throws at us. And, when things happen to us, the potential to turn them into good things is always available. Not always easy, but always possible.

Perception is a matter of choice. I have a choice every day regarding the perceptions I will embrace for that day. Learning to change my perception has helped me more readily accept and engage the difficulties of life and how I respond to the experience.

I don’t always choose wisely. But I choose. Granted, some choices are easier to make than others, like what to wear to work or what to have for dinner, than, say, choosing to quit a job or end a relationship. Choosing not to give up, no matter how dire or hopeless or just plain unmanageable things may seem.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” My years with Kona taught me the most valuable lesson I can ever hope to learn: No matter what happens, I can choose how to perceive the events that make up my life. And, it is this power of choice that makes life endurable, worthwhile, joyful, just plain manageable—or miraculous.

Today, I think I’ll choose miraculous.

Not Everything Old Is New Again (And That’s Okay With Me)

“At my age of 63, there are a lot of things that are no longer likely or possible. I’ll probably never go up Mt. Kilimanjaro or run another marathon. I won’t spend a winter crewing on boats in the Caribbean. Won’t learn to play the piano. Might learn another language, although that’s a long shot. But I’ll tell you one thing that is possible. You can walk across Scotland and put your feet in the sea.” David Brown, excerpted from “Sea to sea: a hillwalking ‘challenge’ across Scotland,” Washington Post Sunday, October 11, 2015

My first experience with recognizing that something was no longer likely or possible “at my age” was during a hike, not across Scotland, but on the Aiea Loop Trail in the Keaiwa Heiau State Park on the island of Oahu.

This was my first time trying this hike, and since I was alone, I did my homework first about safety for solitary hikers. I was encouraged, plus the idea of this being a “loop” meant that I would probably not get lost since, sooner or later, I’d end up back where I started from.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was not, strictly speaking, a “loop.” You begin in one area and end in another. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I was finished—and, by that time, the hike had nearly finished me off.

The first portion was nice (read, “How easy-peasy, so glad I decided to do this”), but the middle had lots of mud and/or water puddles that had to be negotiated (read, “jumped over or waded through”), and the last portion was more enclosed (read, “more isolated and scary than I expected”) by a narrower trail and lower trees.

Plus, there were very few benches or even just a place to pull over to take a break; the trail was not well-marked other than the well-worn main trail; and there were a lot of side trails that you could easily (the only easy thing about this) wander off on, never to be heard from again. Oh, and by the way, it’s not a bad idea to be aware of the sheer drops here and there.

Did I mention that I believed I had done my homework beforehand?

About 90 minutes into the hike, I came across a downed tree that was completely blocking the trail. I had no choice but to climb over it. Which is what brings me to the moment when I realized that something that used to be easy for me had, unexpectedly, become near to impossible: I barely had the strength to hoist myself up and over, and, once over, I became seriously concerned that I wouldn’t have the strength to finish the hike.

Of course, since I’m writing this now, you know that this story had a happy ending. I did manage to finish, especially lifted in spirit when a young mother and her very young son lapped me soon after the tree (I might not have had much strength left, but for heavens sake, I did have my pride!).

At the time, I remember being very discouraged by the knowledge that hiking—at least, this kind of hiking—might no longer be possible for me. And, for a time, I was discouraged about my life in general. After all, baring a miracle, I realized that, in all likelihood, I now had less time in front of me than behind me.

But then I decided I had a choice. I could either close the book on my bucket list OR I could simply change the entries. And I have a lot (although winter crewing on boats in the Caribbean has never been, nor will it ever be, on my bucket list).

So, what’s on your bucket list? Are you constrained by the things that are no longer possible? Or are you energized and motivated by all this IS still possible for you?

Think about it!

Want to know more about transforming limited thoughts and beliefs into limitless possibilities? Check out my Examine–Envision–Emerge Personal Transformation Book Series on Amazon and Smashwords and my YouTube videos.

You Are Here

“If you want to change your life’s direction, you need to direct your intention, which means first being honest about the thoughts, rationalizations, intentions, and attitudes you already have.” Robert Altman, The Mindfulness Code

You hear about a shoe store opening up at your local mall, and you decide that you simply must have a new pair of fabulous red shoes. Off you go to the mall but you have no idea where the shoe store is in the mall. So you start with the Mall Directory. Looking at the map, what are the two things you need to know to get you on your way to that new pair of fabulous red shoes?

  1. Where you are now.
  2. Where you want to be.

So the first thing you do is find the bold YOU ARE HERE marker on the map. Why begin at this point?

Because you need to know where you are now in order to figure out how to get to where you want to be.

Now, take a closer look at that YOU ARE HERE marker. What it doesn’t say is as important as what it does say. It doesn’t say, “You are here. . . .but you have no business buying yet another pair of fabulous red shoes.” It doesn’t say, “You are here . . . .but once you get to the store, there probably won’t be any fabulous red shoes in your size so why bother?” It’s an objective statement of fact. It’s simply an indicator of your present circumstance, that is, where you are in the mall at this very moment. No more, no less. YOU ARE HERE – it is what it is.

You’re probably thinking, so what? Of course it doesn’t say that, McDowell, it’s just a sign.

But now let’s look at how this might apply to how we think about ourselves outside the mall.

When you think about where you are right now, how often do you attach some type of subjective, usually negative, judgment to your current situation? Maybe you’ve lost your job in this crumbling economy and haven’t been able to find another one no matter how many resumes you’ve sent out or job fairs you’ve attended. When someone asks you how your job hunt is going so far, do you reply, “I haven’t found anything yet,” and just leave it at that? Or do you say, “I haven’t found anything yet . . . and I’m sure it’s because I’m not qualified, there simply isn’t anything out there, no one is hiring, I can’t afford to take such a huge pay cut.” Do you make the objective statement – “no job yet” – only to follow it up with the subjective judgment – “and at this rate, I probably won’t find a job” – which, of course, makes you feel even more depressed and desperate and (if you’re like me) worthless than you already do? And then, to make matters worse, you allow the subjective judgment to determine your next steps, and so now you stop applying for certain jobs because you “just know” that you aren’t going to get hired anyway.

I am, for the most part, a “cup half full” person. But if I had a nickel for every time I added a subjective judgment onto an objective statement about my present circumstances, I’d be living in a sumptuous beachfront house in Hawaii wearing simply fabulous red slippahs (okay, I can hear my spiritual mentors whispering, “McDowell, it isn’t the money that’s keeping you from living in Hawaii, it’s your intention,” even as I write this, but that’s another topic for another blog!). Unless I am “thought-diligent,” unless I am mindful of what I’m thinking about when I think about my life, it’s very easy for me to negatively judge my present circumstances – and, as a result, chart a course of action that will not help me realize my goals – instead of making peace with my present circumstances in order to move forward with positive intentions.

Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of information about how we can use the power of our thoughts to improve our health, attain wealth, attract love, live longer and better. These are truly powerful messages that can – literally – transform our lives.

But I think there is a necessary first step that we must take before we can fully realize the changes that we want to make in our lives by harnessing this power: To know where we want to go and figure out how to get there, we must begin with identifying where we are right now. Knowing where we are helps us identify WHAT needs to be changed and the reasons WHY we want to move away from our present circumstances towards a new life. As an empath, my work is about getting people to have the courage and energy to look at and accept themselves – their wants, feelings, needs, desires, darkest thoughts – in order to move from their current state to a desired future state.

None of us is immune from subjectivity, ignorance, or denial. But it has been my experience that if we can understand our situation from an objective, nonjudgmental standpoint, we have a better chance at finding ways of responding positively to our present circumstances. We must begin by doing what Altman describes as “cultivating a neutral and nonjudgmental awareness, which allows us to witness and observe events without attaching to them. Our subjective emotion needs to be developed into objectivity in order to determine both the need for change and our ability to change.

Perhaps we cannot remove all the ups and downs of life. However, we have it in our power to alter how we perceive our lives, how we interpret YOU ARE HERE, in order to change our perception of the experience of our lives – which ultimately influences our decisions and our actions. This is in no way to imply that your present circumstances might not be daunting, painful, or even life-threatening. Rather, identifying what our lives consist of now, and making peace with our present circumstances, means that we are more readily able to accept and engage the difficulties of life. Once we objectively acknowledge our present circumstances, we can determine where we need to be, and then begin to chart a course of action for getting there.

“If you truly want to change your life, you must first be willing to change your mind.” The Mindfulness Code, Donald Altman

Anything Is Possible

If you truly want to change your life, you must first be willing to change your mind. Donald Altman, The Mindfulness Code ©2010

You know how some people seem to be better at handling change than others? Most of us know at least one person who has successfully made a major change in their lives, like quitting smoking, losing weight, or even walking away from their “Sure Thing” job. Then there are the rest of us – and maybe you count yourself among these people —who give up the minute it gets tough.

Whether it’s a change in your job, health, family, relationships, or life in general, transitions are an inevitable part of life. However, most people don’t like change. For many of us, change can be difficult or uncomfortable. This is true regardless of whether the change is forced upon us, planned, unexpected, or self-created. Why? Because we are giving up familiarity in exchange for the unfamiliar and unknown.

But the good news is that anyone can learn to deal more effectively with change, and face their fears, by doing one incredibly easy thing: choosing to change their perspective of change.

And here’s why I know this to be true.


From 2002 to 2012, I shared my life with the four-legged love of my life, a Czechoslovakian Shepherd named Kona. He meant everything to me. For 10 years, taking care of Kona gave my life meaning, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

Until, one day, I was forced to imagine the unimaginable.

Almost from the day of his birth, Kona had health challenges, all of which were serious but treatable. Then in 2006, Kona was diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Life expectancy rates for dogs with Kona’s condition were bleak at best; one vet told me that the longest any of his patients lived after the diagnosis was a meager three weeks!

The prognosis was so poor, in fact, that my vet, knowing how I felt about Kona, tried to prepare me for what the tests indicated would probably be Kona’s imminent and sudden death. He walked me through the steps I needed to take in the coming weeks: everything from keeping him quiet, avoiding excitement, and even what to do if Kona had a heart attack while we were out walking or just playing outside, which was apparently how most of the dogs with this condition died.

To say I was devastated doesn’t come close to describing how I felt. And, needless to say, I barely heard a word that the vet was telling me.

I cried for two days. I was filled with fear whenever I even thought about Kona running up and down the basement stairs, let alone not having Kona in my life.

And then I decided to change how I would perceive this awful, unthinkable news: I realized I had a choice.

I could either choose to let it negatively impact every remaining moment I had with Kona – I could lock him in the house, never take him for a walk again, never let him chase birds or rabbits, never leave him alone for a single moment “just in case.” Or, I could choose to see this as a blessing and be grateful for every moment I was going to have with him. We could go on as we did before, chasing lots of rabbits (knowing he could never catch them, thank heavens!), taking long walks – aware of the possible consequences but living our lives to the fullest.

And we did, not just for three short weeks but, miraculously, for four glorious years!

Which is not to say that I didn’t have to come up with a plan for facing my fears and dealing with Kona’s condition realistically. I did have to figure out what to do if Kona had a heart attack while we were away from home. I did have to figure out who I was going to call if Kona became incapacitated, and I needed to get him in the car and to the emergency clinic quickly – not an easy thing to do by myself since he weighed over 100 pounds.

And I did have to think about the unthinkable: going on with my life without Kona in my life.

But once I changed my perspective of the situation, I was able to face the fear and come up with an action plan for moving forward no matter what might happen.

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes. Charles Swindoll, Founder, Insight for Living

We all know that the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location. In learning to deal with change more effectively and without fear, the three most important words are attitude, attitude, attitude. You can change your perspective of an event as well as how you feel about having to respond to it.

Take, for example, writing your own obituary rather than leaving that for someone else. You can approach your end-of-life preparations with dread or thinking it’s morbid. Or, you can see it as an opportunity to sing your own praises, to get your house in order, or to just know that you can do something as painful as thinking about your own or someone else’s mortality without being crushed by the knowledge.

We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable, the unexpected, or the unthinkable. But we CAN change how we approach and deal with anything that might throw us off course or keep us from living a life in our best and highest interests.

Change Your Thoughts? Change Your Life!

“We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.” Santosh Kalwar, Quote Me Everyday

Within each of us is a soul-deep knowledge of our passions, our values, our desires, and our yearnings, all of which are waiting to be born. And yet, all too often, our current thoughts and beliefs limit our ability to imagine new horizons, to see our present circumstances or our future in new ways, and to give birth to our true selves.

But you CAN learn to release your limiting thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes. The key is to give yourself permission to acknowledge your current thought patterns, belief systems, feelings, and fears; challenge your existing assumptions and attitudes that no longer serve you; and explore ways to transform your limiting thoughts and beliefs into limitless possibilities!

Giving yourself permission to see your thoughts in a new way and then to create new thoughts based on your own personal truths will empower you to identify, accept, and embrace change in all areas of your life – spiritual, physical, mental, emotional. And while you might not be able to change an unwanted hardship, you will be able to more readily accept and engage the difficulties of life.

I believe that when we give ourselves permission to rethink, to consider other possibilities, we crack open a door to our Higher Selves – and our Higher Selves, recognizing that the door has been cracked open, wedge a crowbar in to make sure that we consider a different way ahead. You only need to be willing in order to move in a new direction!

Singing Lessons

In order to avoid this bitter end, we have to be reborn again, and born with the knowledge of alternatives “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings,” Maya Angelou

Have you heard of the story titled, “The Horse Might Sing”? There are many different versions, but my favorite goes like this:

Nasrudin was caught in the act of stealing and sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the Royal Presence: “Is there any reason at all why I shouldn’t take your head off right now?” To which he replied: “Oh, King, live forever! Know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your kingdom, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, given a year to work on it.” The king was amused, and said: “Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn’t singing a year from now, we’ll think of something interesting to do with you.”

As Nasrudin was returning to his cell to pick up his spare rags, his cellmate remonstrated with him: “Now that was really foolish. You know you can’t teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try.” Nasrudin’s response: “Not at all. I have a year now that I didn’t have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die. And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing.”

I love this story. It’s a message about hope, a reminder that anything is possible, that there are always options.

For me, having the “knowledge of alternatives” is incredibly powerful. Over the years, knowing that I had options has been essential to me; having options means the difference between seeing a way ahead—or a way out—or staying in those deep holes that I have, on occasion, fallen into.

Giving ourselves permission to willingly consider alternatives is the key to getting from where you are to where you want to be. Willingness is a necessary precursor to taking action: you have to be willing to do something—or, at the very least, willing to try to do something—in order to keep moving forward.

It’s the Same Old Song

All their lives they did what had to be done, and didn’t bother daydreaming about alternative lives because they never expected to be free enough to have a choice. I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher

Have you ever wondered how some people can willingly walk away from what they know to embark on a journey into a future that isn’t even defined? Do you marvel at people who recklessly go out on a limb—and intentionally saw themselves off? Have you said to yourself, “I could never do that in a million years!”

But then secretly, and maybe a little wistfully, whispered to yourself, “But if I only knew how they did it, maybe I could do it too”?

Most people rarely, if ever, question the path they’re on. They put one foot in front of the other and simply keep moving forward. Part generational, part genetic, part upbringing or culture, there are many reasons why we never consider what we might really want or what might be in our best and highest interest. We simply do what we think, or believe, we have to do.

When thinking about our lives, most of us do what I call “snapshotting”: We see our lives in a certain way, like a photo, and we freeze it at that moment. We look through the lens, we frame the image in the way that is most pleasing to us, and we capture that perception. We like the results, and so we leave it as is.

Then something happens that either allows us or forces us to change our perception of the image, and we are faced with a decision: either keep the image as is or look at the image in a different way, to frame the external situation or event to match our new, internal perceptions. We find ourselves at a crossroads where the same choices and the same decisions no longer serve us.

The definition of crossroads is “the place where roads intersect or a place at which a vital decision must be made.”

This definition has two significant elements.

First, a crossroads involves options: this road or that road, this way or that, this direction or that.

Second, a crossroads implies that we are intended to select one of the options available to us: we turn left instead of right; we take the shady path rather than the sunny one, the uphill climb rather than the downhill stroll. Otherwise, we are at a standstill.

When we come to a crossroads in our lives, seeing all of the possible roads we can take and all of the options that are available to us can certainly be overwhelming and scary. But it can also be a golden opportunity to make some fundamental changes in our lives. It can mark a turning point in how we live our lives.

The Music of the Spheres

I sing like I feel. Ella Fitzgerald

I believe that when we give ourselves permission to rethink, to consider other possibilities, we crack open a door to our Higher Self—and our Higher Self, recognizing that the door has been cracked open, wedges a crowbar in to make sure that we consider a different way ahead.

In order to crack open that door to your Higher Self, you need to give yourself permission to think about alternatives: what you want, why you want it, and what you’re willing to do or even try to do. When you free yourself to at least consider alternatives, ideas that might not have occurred to you in the past now may occur.

Here is a simple exercise for learning how to open the door to your options. You can use this exercise whether you’re at a crossroads now or find yourself at that “place at which a vital decision must be made” in the future.

  1. Open a new page in your journal, notebook, or computer file.
  2. At the top of the page, write: What Does “Opening the Door to Your Options” Mean to Me?
  3. Write down words, phrases, and feelings about the concept of opening the door to options.

If you do only one step in this exercise, do this one. Understanding how you feel about the concept of having options in your life is a necessary precursor to acquiring the knowledge of alternatives. And be honest! If allowing yourself to consider options makes you uncomfortable, you need to acknowledge this as well as the reasons for your sense of “dis-ease.”

  1. Next, thinking about your life now, are you at a crossroads or at a place where you need to make a vital decision? If so, describe the place and the options that you believe you have.
  2. Looking at the crossroads you said you’re at in step 4, are there any options that you believe you don’t have because of the possible consequences or outcomes, whether real or imagined? If so, write these down.
  3. Looking again at the crossroads you said you’re at in step 4, are there any options that you’d be willing to do or at least try to do if you weren’t afraid of the consequences, whether real or imagined? If so, write these down.

Not allowing yourself to get caught up in possible consequences or outcomes is an essential component of learning to open yourself to options. If we think we know what will happen because of something we will or might do, the steps we take, whether consciously or unconsciously, often become a self-fulfilling prophecy: we make it happen because we assume it’s going to happen anyway. In her book, After Shock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You—or Someone You Love—a Devastating Diagnosis, Jessie Gruman describes this tendency like this: “It is the fear of the unknown that paralyzes. You can acknowledge the possibilities and know where you might go. It doesn’t mean that you are fatalistic and it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen.

Sing Your Song

Have you been avoiding looking at alternatives? Have you been trying to not look in the mirror and see what is true? Have you ever asked yourself, “If I didn’t have to worry about the outcome, what would I let myself think about? What options might I have? What choices would I make?”

Are you like the servant in the story about the singing horse? Do you wring your hands over the worst that might happen? Do you see the bitter end in your endeavors as something than cannot be avoided?

Or are you like Nasrudin—ever hopeful, confident in the knowledge that a thousand things might happen before anything might come to pass?

In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott said, “If you start to look around, you will start to see.” If you desire to be reborn with the knowledge of alternatives, let your eyes and your heart see all of the possibilities around you!

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