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Yours to Choose

If you read my blog last week, you’ll know that studies suggest that the average adult makes between 33 000-35 000 choices a day.

I’m not sure what feelings you go through when you read those numbers, but my initial response is disbelief. There are only 86 400 seconds in a day, and since most of us sleep for at least 25 000 of those seconds, that means that we’re making a choice nearly every second of our waking day.

Impossible I thought, and so, I started counting.

I didn’t set out to try to count all my decisions for a whole day. I thought I’d try for an hour and then do the math. But, I pretty quickly found it impossible.

I don’t know how the scientists actually came up with their number in the thirty thousands (I couldn’t find specifics about the studies), but I imagine it involved some creative conjecture.

First of all, there’s the tricky thing of deciding what is a decision. If I’m talking to someone, do I count one choice for each word I say? What about the words I didn’t say? What about body language? Proximity?

When is it  a choice instead of a reflex?

Of all of the questions I was asking myself, that one really stood out.

How many decisions do we actively make in a day? How many times a day do we turn off our autopilot and really lean into the possibilities? Choice instead of reflex.

Whether we make 33 000 choices a day or not, I think we often get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things we do have to decide.

I know for me, the less energy I have, the more each decision feels overwhelming. When I’m exhausted, I don’t want to think, I just want to turn on my autopilot and make it through the day.

Autopilot is an incredibly useful tool for getting things done. It’s  an efficient way of making it through the ridiculous number of demands we can face. It cuts down on the number of choices we have to actively make and smooths things out to a more predictable routine.

But, it comes at a cost.

Happiness, connection, creativity, magic are all in short supply on autopilot. The more we move through life automatically,  the further we are from moments of beauty and wonder. It becomes possible to live without really remembering to be alive.

There has to be a balance.

Enough routine to take care of our daily needs. Enough presence and awareness to remember that life can be pretty awesome sometimes.

For just a moment, stop, close your eyes and think about your day (or the day to come). Pick a moment where you want to live really intentionally. One hour, out of the 24 where you want the choices you make to be your very own active decisions.

Maybe you call someone you love before you go to bed instead of scrolling through your social media feed. Maybe you go for a walk around the block and watch the way the moonlight plays in the elm trees. Maybe you make yourself a cup of your favourite coffee with a hint of chocolate or cinnamon and really savour it while you sing along to your eighties playlist.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what you do, but instead it matters that you do it intentionally. That you remind yourself that this life is yours and what you do with it is your decision.

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