I tend to be one of those people who make things hard. I’m stubborn, I overthink constantly, and I am a people-pleaser. These three elements add up to someone who tends to learn things the hard way. Yeah…so… not great. In age and a little bit of maturity, I believe that I have come to realize that not everything has to be difficult; not every decision requires a five-step plan, hours of analyzing, mind-numbing stress or nail-biting. After living almost forty years and being married for almost fourteen years to someone who tends to act first and think later :-), I’ve learned that some sometimes you can just make a good decision, right now, because you know it’s right, and just go for it. No pondering, making a pros vs. cons list, no reaching out for advice… No. Just do it.
I feel like this is especially true when the decisions in question fall into the “best practices” category, like when we repeatedly hear about the wisdom of a certain course of action, but we just put off incorporating them into our lives. Not every new direction needs to be a complete upheaval of your present life! You and I really can choose a better course of action in a certain area of our lives and simply daily keep recommitting to it.
10 Good Choices
Here is a simple list of 10 choices that you and I can make today to lead a better life:
1. Trust God.
Have you ever heard that trust is a choice? I believe that sometimes it is. God has been the supreme Faithful One in my life yet, at times, I still find it hard to trust Him. To trust in His goodness. His plans. His timing. His ways. Sometimes my carnal mind just still finds trusting Him to be something that I simply don’t feel. And so. I just choose to do it. I know that He is trustworthy, and so even when I can’t see it, I know He’s working. I choose to trust Him.
2. Let it go.
I recently did a blog post and a podcast episode about making the decision to forgive someone and move on. Again, this is one of those things: you know it’s the right thing to do, yet you don’t feel like doing it. You’re hurt, you’re angry and you want the other person to pay. However, if you can start with your desire to truly please God and to honor Him by forgiving, He will help you to forgive and get on with your life. But it does just start with a decision. So, choose today just to let it go!
3. Put down your phone.
Yep, we all know we should. So why not just do it? Even if you’re not consistently thinking about it, when you do, just turn it off and put it down. Engage with your spouse, your kids, or even just a good book. Go for a drive, go for a walk; almost anything is better than sitting for hours staring at your device as the world goes on around you. What good does it do for you, really?
If you are able to spend less than 30 minutes checking in on friends and the news, and then move on to something else, then you are probably doing okay managing your phone. But if, like many of us, you intend to spend just a few minutes and look up and hours have gone by, then you have some work to do! But it’s okay! Just choose to do it. Every day that you are aware and you want to do better, then just choose to put down your phone.
4. Stop caring about superficial things.
Related to #3, it’s time to tune out the world and what it says we should look like, act like, do with our money or be involved in. When I finally discovered Chip & Jo and got sucked into the Fixer Upper vortex, I found myself so dissatisfied with my own home. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about doing a little home improvement. However, when watching an HGTV show makes me live in a constant state of discontent, then I’m caring too much about things that don’t matter all that much.
How many Facebook likes we get, if our friends got a new car and we didn’t, or spending far too much time and money trying to maintain a certain appearance…if these things are getting our attention and care, it’s time to stop. Stop today. Caring too much about fleeting and shallow things will only rob us of contentment.
5. Think uplifting thoughts.
What a revelation when we realize that we have control over our thoughts! We don’t have to be manipulated by thoughts that create anxiety and steal joy. No wonder the Bible urges us in Philippians 4:8 to fix our minds are the pure, true, and praiseworthy! If we are told to do it in the word of God, then it’s something that we are able to do. The Holy Spirit helps us, but again, it starts with a choice we make! What will you choose to fix your mind on?
6. Focus on your spouse’s positive attributes.
We all have strengths and weaknesses and, related to #5, we have a choice on what we put our focus and attention on. Now this is a hard one for me! I am naturally hard on myself, constantly acknowledging things that need improvement. While if in balance, this is not a bad thing, the problem comes with the spillover onto others. My husband gets the worst of it. I have a very defeating habit of zeroing in on only his negative issues while taking his positive traits for granted. I am actually most often making the wrong choice, here.
Even if you aren’t married, there is undoubtedly someone that you love who drives you crazy at times! We do all have the choice to sort of sweep their negative and annoying habits under the rug, and to put the spotlight and all the many things that they get right. Let’s make the right choice…right now!
7. Be more outwardly focused.
By now you realize that I can get inwardly focused with a laser beam intensity! Are you that way? I’m an introvert, it’s true, but I think it’s also just plain old self-centeredness. At almost all times, I have a vague feeling inside that something isn’t quite right, something was left undone, some area of my life needs work or attention. To be consumed with oneself is a recipe for sadness. When we get out of ourselves and our problems, and look up to aid the needs of others, we get an emotional lift.
There are so many relationships in my life right now, that if I would focus on what the other person needs and how I can help them, the deficits in my own life would be minimized. Today I choose to look outward.
8. Choose your long-term health.
It’s true that we can’t predict the future and none of us are guaranteed health for the remainder of our lives. However, what I’ve got to stop doing, what absolutely must cease, is the trading of a lifetime of health for momentary pleasures. If I turn down opt for a grilled chicken sandwich, no fries, it’s true that I miss out on eating fried chicken and fries for this one meal. Bummer… However, if I decide today that I’m willing to forego little temporary pleasure for the sake of my long-term health, then it’s a total win.
I know it’s easier said than done, friends! If it were easy, I would be skinny right now! 🙂 But back to what I mentioned in the introduction, I don’t have to make this harder than it is. I can choose today and right now to make better choices for my overall health. I don’t have to do it perfectly, and I don’t have to have an elaborate plan. But my life, and the lives of my family-members will be enriched by this good choice that I make today.
9. Choose your long-term wealth.
So, I’m not really talking about getting rich with this one. Similar to #8, I am talking about making the good choice to stop making so many superfluous purchases, to stop having so many $5 lattes.
Our spending habits catch up with us all, and as we get older, we are more hemmed in by irresponsibility in this area of life. So stop. Stop making snap decisions to buy things you don’t need. (Oh man, am I ever preaching to myself on this one!!!) Am I making this purchase because I’m focused on superficial things and struggling with discontent? Stop it. Am I going on a shopping spree because I’m still too inwardly focused on me, me, me?! Cease. Desist.
Yes, in this case, having a plan (budget) would be helpful. However, I don’t have to have one to start making the right choices today. Do I really want one more shirt or pair of shoes today, or do I want to be able to live comfortably when I retire? While that might seem like a silly question, it’s not too far off the mark. Our savings for the future are frittered away on $20 purchases. Ouch.
Today. Just do it today. Start saying “no” to trivial purchases and out of control spending so that you can say “yes” to a comfortable and generous future.
10. Give yourself grace.
Most of these things are not easy, and you will not be perfect. It’s okay; you’re not expected to be. That’s why God gives us His grace covering: it fills in all the places where we fall short. And we should offer this same kind of grace to ourselves. Again, it’s a choice we make. I may really feel like beating myself up over a particular shortcoming, but what will that solve? Choose grace. We are all striving forward by God’s help the best that we know how. The very best gift that you can give yourself when you mess up is the gift of grace.
In Christ, we have hope and a future. There is no reason to fear or be mired in frustration. At any point on any given day, we can make these choices to better our lives; the Lord will help us. What good choice can you make today? What would you add to this list?