Freedom to choose – an epiphany that ‘I have’ to share

Freedom to choose – an epiphany that ‘I have’ to share

I’m currently reading Dawn French’s latest book, Me. You. A Diary. I expected it to be funny, and it is. How could it not be? But I didn’t expect it to be particularly inspiring. To my delight, though,  I’ve had epiphany after epiphany and I’m only halfway through. One I have to share relates to something we all have, and that’s the freedom to choose.

I strongly believe that we all need to own our sh*t. You know, hold ourselves accountable for the choices we make and the actions we take. Anyway, as I was reading a passage in Dawn’s book, I saw the words I have in a way that I hadn’t seen them before. It was pretty profound.

I can’t recall the exact sentence, but it was something along the lines of, we have to do what feels right. (OK. It was definitely not that but anyhow…) Normally, I’d interpret this to mean we need to do what feels right. On this particular occasion, however, I read the words we have as if they were going to be followed by a noun, not a verb – as in:

I have a new iPhone.

I have a nice home.

I have a pair of $900 Fluevog boots

freedom to choose image 2

Yes, I bought these. It appears I may have lost my mind for a moment and that was that.

To have is to possess.

I possess a new iPhone, a nice home and a pair of hot boots. What I also possess, though, is the freedom to choose. That’s what occurred to me as I was reading the line that went something like (but not really!) we have to do what feels right.

Think about it: I have a home and I have to do what feels right. I possess a home. I also possess the option of doing what feels right. How empowering is that?

Reading it this way completely removes the sense of obligation and brings the power back to the subject in question. Me, you, them, us – whoever it is that has to do something.

Granted, we can’t always choose what happens in our lives but for those of us living in the free world, most of it is within our control. As for the bits that aren’t, we have the freedom to choose how we respond to them, whether that be by taking action or simply reconciling our feelings about the situation.

Having the freedom to choose isn’t enough. Remember, you have to use it.

Freedom to choose quote

How could this interpretation of the words have to change your day or your life for the better?

Say you have to go to the gym. Interpreting that as an obligation is hardly inspiring, but interpreting it as an option you actually possess puts you back in the driver’s seat, and who doesn’t like to be in control?

Say you have to cook dinner. FACT: You don’t. You can hit the golden arches on your way home or order a big fat pizza pie for the family. But you do possess the option of cooking dinner at home versus picking up or ordering in. Which do you choose?

Of course, to have to is and will remain synonymous with to need on many occasions. I have to take my daily meds, otherwise, I’ll go off kilter. I have to take my dog for walks because not doing so would be unkind. And I have to keep the commitments I make to the clients if I want to keep my copywriting business thriving.

All of that said, though I suppose even these things are choices. I can skip the meds and live with anxiety and depression. I can skip the dog walks and experience the dis-ease of going against my true, animal-loving nature. I can skip the nutritious, home-cooked meals and let my health fail and fall as it may. But really, would I be happy?

You have the means to live with peace.

Maybe you can’t control what happens in your country, community or workplace, but you do possess the means for a peaceful heart and the choice of tapping into those means wherever you are. The question is, will you?

Viv for today xo

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By |2019-01-08T13:29:48+00:00January 8th, 2019|6 Comments


  1. Gail January 15, 2019 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I love this! My husband (a preacher) had a similar epiphany. He phrased it this way:

    ‘I don’t have to, I get to.’

    These small adjustments in perspective are, indeed, game-changers!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Viv January 16, 2019 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Absolutely, Gail. I thought of the term “I get to” as I was writing this. (Great minds think alike.) What I found particularly interesting though, was the inherent positivity we can find in the words “have to” without switching the words at all.

  2. Amy January 15, 2019 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Viv, for this thought-provoking post. I find myself frequently talking with people about choice, both directly and indirectly. I agree wholeheartedly that we always have choices, we just, sometimes, may not like any or all of them. And, I would add, that I encourage people to consider that every choice comes with sacrifice(s) (you allude to this) and that listing those sacrifices can be a really useful process. Recognizing that with choice, any choice, comes sacrifice can also be liberating. Thanks!!

    • Viv January 16, 2019 at 10:17 am - Reply

      A valuable add-on that you emphasize here, Amy. Choosing one thing will alway involve declining an alternative. Some alternatives will be harder to decline but the choice remains ours.

  3. Cathy Tubb January 30, 2019 at 11:45 am - Reply

    FIrst this was not my only take-away from this piece, but Fluevog’s? Who doesn’t want a pair?! And just for future reference, I’m pretty sure there’s a buy & sell site for Fluevog’s. I have to close my eyes or turn my head away when I walk past the Fluevog store in Vancouver. Seriously though, not my only take-away 😉

    • Viv February 18, 2019 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      Ha ha! My husband owns about 20 pairs. He’s unstoppable! My wedding shoes were a gorgeous pair of Fleuvog mary-janes 🙂

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