We were out for drinks, discussing stuff that wasn’t working, ways that we wanted to change our day-to day, as you do when you’re a couple drinks in. The topic drifted to feeling stuck, and my friend told me this story that totally changed how I think about my mornings.
Her brother was a fantastic baseball player in college, good enough to get drafted for the minors post-graduation. Along with semi-pro baseball, he was deep in the party culture, with alcohol and sex being a prominent feature of his daily routine. He was a great baseball player, but not pro-level, and at the end of his first year in the minors, he was sleeping on my friend’s couch questioning what he was doing with his life.
One night he confessed everything to her - all his misdeeds and the shame he felt about where he was. After listening to him she said one of the wisest things I had ever heard. “Every day you get to wake up and decide who you are going to be.”
There is so much grace in that idea. Without trying to erase or negate our past, to tell yourself every single day that you get to choose your path and you have permission to change both accepts your mistakes and allows for growth.
Crucially, believing that you get to choose also gives us agency. Our actions aren’t dictated by some remote and inaccessible compulsion deep in our brain. Our actions are our choices.
Of course there are limits to this idea, and some things are truly outside our control. But rather than looking for the limits, I like to look for where I might be able to apply this theory of choice that isn’t immediately obvious. An example for me is brain plasticity. I’ve suffered with depression in the past. What if, instead of telling myself every morning that I’m depressive, instead I told myself that brain plasticity is real? My personal experience is that just by opening up the possibility of change and choosing to believe it, my depression became more manageable.
So who will you choose to be today?