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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

A friend asked me recently about what it means to be a good person versus a bad person.  It was in a slightly different context than how this post will proceed, but the question got me thinking more generally.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a “good” person or a “bad” person. I think people are people.  What it really comes down to is that people are ultimately a product of their decision making.

Choices, as every living human being is aware, are made every minute, you could even argue every second, of the day.  Decision making can range from deciding what clothes you will put on today, to what food will be entering your body, to more difficult decisions, like choosing how to feel about something.

When our lives start to get rocky and it seems like nothing is working in our favor (happens to the best of us, of course), these are the times when good decision making and bad decision making really define us.

What I’ve grown to realize in the past year or so is that deciding to invest meaning in things (I will clarify in a second), or rather the RIGHT things, can make all the difference in these unstable situations.  The obvious issue when everything SEEMS to be crumbling around us is that we’re seeking stability that may not be there.  As with a real disaster like the sinking of the Titanic, let’s say, if the preparation is not thought about beforehand, that baby’s gonna sink in a fiery mess with people running around frantically and eventually jumping ship to avoid being consumed by flames or being crushed and/or hurled off the ship by a crumbling smokestack.  Graphic visual, but I think that gets my point across.

On the other hand, however, if you decide before these rocky moments even hit, when your life is at its seemingly MOST stable points, to surround yourself with life preservers and buoys and diving lessons, even the sinking of the Titanic could see a slightly happier ending.

In my life, and especially over the past year, which I think was the most stable, independent, and freeing time in my life to date, I’ve surrounded myself with these preparatory measures in the form of yoga, swimming, and cooking.  It’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that we engage in each and every day that can keep us from the brink when we’re perhaps not having our finer moments.  CHOOSING, seriously, actively deciding, to ascribe meaning to these things can make a world of difference.

Because, when the ship hits the iceberg, things start to get murky, and panic sets in, we can grab hold of the things we maybe didn’t realize were so important to us before and we can find solace in their steadfastness.

It’s easy to feel like something is wrong with you when things aren’t going your way too, so choosing things that actually give you strength or make you feel like a better person (in a constructive way, of course), are ideal.  Another self preserving choice to make is to limit indulgences in your everyday life.  What this ultimately means is that you should be viewing that hamburger or that extra bowl of cereal as something special on a day-to-day basis.  That way, when you’re not feeling tip-top, you won’t ever have to actually hit rock bottom.  Instead of eating a carton of ice cream and then feeling even worse about yourself, you’ll see an espresso brownie from Caffe Strada as just indulgent and comforting enough to move on with your day.  This will give you less to feel bad about yourself about, and you’ll realize there’s not actually all that much wrong with you (or maybe, if you’re really a special person, there is).

Of course I don’t have all the answers and there are always things I need to work on.  While I firmly believe what I’ve just said—that there are no good or bad people, only people who make good and bad decisions (and perhaps over-indulgent ones as well)—I’m also not one to forgive easily.  I can stick with a person to a point, ignore their bad decision making and try to help them make the right ones to some extent.  But once the barrier of trust is crossed, I find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to look past either such a long series of bad decisions, or bad decisions of a certain magnitude.  Because, at some point, there is a difference between simply making a bad decision or two and really, truly digging yourself a deep, watery grave in the Atlantic, and frankly, I don’t want to be the one to waste my own time and energy trying to get you back to safety.


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