I attended an inspiring workshop last week based on the idea of living an intentional life. Many of us experience everyday life as a series of events that the world does to us. We have no control over the traffic woes, the weather, the state of world affairs, the surly salesperson…these things are out of our control. They are external and they can seriously foul up our day or week or even month. So what do we do about them? The easy thing (and often unconscious action) is to allow them to direct our thinking and behavior. The affects can be souring relationships, declining work performance, increasing isolation from others.
It reminded me of a recent personal experience. I needed to get to a meeting and I was running late. I raced out to my car and drove out of the parking lot when I noticed that my wife didn’t replace my SmartTag (a little box that allows us to move through area toll booths quickly). I drove back to retrieve it and then drove out of the parking lot again when I realized that I didn’t have my cell phone. I let my wife borrow it while hers is being replaced. By now, I was fuming. You can see from the way this is going that I seem to be blaming my wife for being really late to an important meeting. Yet, there were so many other ways to view this incident at the time.
A more powerful option is to decide to live a life of intentional choices. While we can’t control most, if not all, of the external forces in our life, we can control our reactions to them. We have the ability to make intentional choices that, while not always easy, have the potential for great power in our lives.