Who Do You Want to Be?

I often find myself getting weighed down by the futility of a lot of the efforts I make in life to do good and make the world a better place. When it is so much easier to make an unethical decision than the ethical one, why bother doing the hard option if it won’t ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things? This is a question we all face regularly. I suppose some people behave themselves for fear of not obtaining an afterlife or displeasing an all-knowing, all-seeing God. But for those without religion, questions of ethics can be more complicated.

As someone who whole-heartedly believes the human race is circling the drain, it can be particularly hard for me to rationalize why I still care to do as little harm as possible while I’m here. I mean, I think we’re all fucked anyway. So why should I conserve water and electricity if it inconveniences me? Why should I recycle when most of the world is already a landfill anyway? A lot of people also use this excuse to disregard the idea of veganism. “The animals are gonna die anyway.” “Humans will never stop eating meat.” “Individuals will never be able to take down these huge industries.”

For me, veganism will always be worth it because every meal I eat that doesn’t contain an animal, is inherently opting out of the choice to cause more suffering in the world. But for people that are interested more in the environmental impact side of veganism, I can see how they might end up thinking veganism isn’t worth the effort. The world will not go vegan in time to save our planet, unfortunately.

However, at the end of the day, I think we are asking ourselves the wrong questions. Rather than wondering, “will this make a difference?” we should be asking ourselves, “what kind of person do I want to be?” Whether or not the entire earth is impacted is kind of beside the point. Our personal decisions, especially ones that have any amount of moral weight to them, impact us, and that’s why they still matter.

Do you want to be the kind of person that contributes to the suffering of animals or not? Do you want to be the type of person that puts your own personal convenience before the consideration of others? Do you want to be someone that cares about the planet and environment? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves when faced with a moral and/or ethical decision.

Personally, I want to do what I believe is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing. How about you? Who do you want to be?

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Making the “Right” Choice

No matter the scenario before me, I find myself stressing over making the “right” decision. Even seemingly simple choices are blown way out of proportion. Should I take a walk or not take a walk? Should I order take out tonight or cook? Should I clean today or tomorrow? When you break life down into these small decisions, it can become overwhelming quite quickly.

It appears as though everyone around me is moving through life intuitively, with confidence in their decisions. Even big life-changing decisions like leaving a job, getting married, having a baby, going back to school. I guess it’s not fair to say these are easy situations for others to navigate. Maybe they are just as tangled up inside as I am. I just only end up seeing the final result. Still these decisions are made firmly, as if they truly know it will be the right one. When it comes to big decisions in my own life, I can’t say I’ve ever even made one. Looking back most major life-changing decisions were made for me like getting a scholarship to college. Or I just find myself gently pushed into one like when I decided to do yoga teacher training with a friend from work.

It feels like all this time I have just been allowing life to happen to me, rather than playing an active role in directing my own experience. I guess I’ve always felt safer not being in control of these things. I’d rather feel like a victim than feel at fault. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s so hard for me to make decisions is because I know how hard I am going to be on myself if I make the “wrong” one.

I go through each day in a precise set of activities. Even though it might be nice to break away from my normal routine once in a while, I’m always too afraid. It’s not even so much about the tasks themselves, like I once thought. It’s more about not having to contemplate what to do next. When I have a schedule to follow, that takes away a lot of the decisions I’d have to make in a day. Take away the routine and I feel like I’m at sea, drowning in an ocean of possibilities.

The real issue here is thinking that there is a “right” decision to be made at all. Especially about such insignificant choices like whether to go for a walk or not. Rather than just thinking, “Oh, a walk would be nice” and going, or, “Eh, I don’t feel like going for a walk today,” and letting it go, I agonize over whether or not I should. I use up so much mental energy arguing and debating with myself about the smallest things.

I take life, and all the decisions that comprise it, far too seriously. I blow each little moment way out of proportion. Most of the thoughts I suffer over for hours or even days, won’t make a difference in the long run. It’s like I have this delusion if I can choose what to do with each second of my life perfectly, all my problems will go away. I know that isn’t true though. There is no perfect answer. There are no “right” or “wrong” choices. There is just me and what I want. And maybe the problem is I don’t know what that is. Or maybe the problem is I’m always looking for problems, so that’s what I find.

What’s the problem with being indecisive anyway? I can choose how I frame even this dilemma. I could take pride in this “flaw.” I’m quite careful and conscientious. These are excellent qualities. I want to make the most of this precious time I’ve been given. I don’t want to be wasteful with a single second. I am insightful and capable of self-reflection. Already, this mental shift has put me in a better mood. Now instead of feeling afraid and broken, I feel happy and proud to be the way that I am.

It’s so easy for me to look outside of myself for answers. I feel like in order to be happy or to love myself, I’ve got to change something outside of me, like the situation or my behavior. That’s always just another distraction though. I don’t need to change anything external to be happy. All I’ve got to do is give myself the space to find different perspectives of the same “problem.”

When I find myself sweating the small stuff today, I’m going to return to one of my favorite mantras: Can I love myself even though…? Can I love myself regardless of whether or not I go for a walk today? Certainly. Can I love myself even though I have a tendency to choose the path of least resistance and default to routine? Absolutely. Can I love myself even though I often take life too seriously? Of course. Can I love myself even though I spend so much time worrying about making the “right” decision. Yes I can. And that’s all that really matters.