By Nick Kossovan
As I write this, a “return to normal” doesn’t seem likely in the near-distant future. (Fingers-crossed for 2023.) During the past 18 months, I have been envying—and learning from—those with the mental strength to not let external factors dictate their mood, focus, motivation, and behaviour. With so much uncertainty and upheaval out of our control—and more likely to come—most people probably think making 2022 New Year’s resolutions is pointless.
Has making New Year’s Resolutions been your thing, but the world’s chaos has discouraged you from doing so? Consider a different path for self-improvement and change—make better decisions! We don’t give our decisions the seriousness they deserve.
Undeniable: At any given moment, your life is the sum of the choices you’ve made.
During a pandemic, when it seems the government is making most of your decisions for you or limiting the choices you can make, you can still make decisions that serve your needs and goals. It could be argued COVID19 created unique opportunities for making better choices, such as who you chose to have in your bubble, cooking at home instead of paying restaurant prices, and not spending hours wandering a mall as a mindless consumer.
Then there are obvious “COVDI19 choices”: whether to social distance, wear a facemask, get vaccinated (and a booster shot), believe “the science,” and follow government guidelines.
The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” Life truisms don’t get any simpler.
You are what your choices make you, nothing more and nothing less.
I imagine Epictetus was talking about human behaviour being beautiful, not physical beauty. Your life choices apply to both. Whether behavioural or physical, your beauty depends on the choices you make.
One of the consequences of COVID has been hyperinflation. Price increases have likely made you question your spending—your consumerism. You can make a choice to deal with inflation by consuming less, which is excellent for the environment and your finances, or you can choose to increase your debt load. Adjusting your spending, choosing your needs over your wants, and not trying to look rich are beautiful choices.
In all its forms, holistic human beauty takes exercise (physically, mentally), discipline, and sacrifice. It takes weeks and months and years. It is you choosing day after day after day to get out of bed at 5 A.M. and go for a run. It is you choosing to pick up a book instead of scrolling your social media feed or binge-watching another Netflix series. It is you choosing to buy groceries and cook for yourself instead of having fast food delivered. It is you choosing to journal instead of texting. It is you choosing to say “no” to opportunities so you can say “yes” to what’s important to you.
Not a day goes by where you don’t have opportunities to make beautiful choices. Many of your decisions (READ: choice opportunity) are made on auto-pilot—what you eat and drink, how you talk to people, whether you go to bed early or stay up late trying to prove to someone on Twitter that you are right (Chances are neither of you is.), and most importantly, what you think and choose to believe. Some days, you have more significant choices to make. Do you stand up for your values? Do you help someone who needs your help? Do you go the extra mile at work or deliver “good enough”? Do you save the bonus you received or spend it on a vacation because you feel you deserve a vacation?
There’s no escaping it: If you want a beautiful life, you need to make beautiful choices. You need to choose the option that will give you a positive return—that’ll be a step towards achieving your goal(s).
There are five areas of your life where your choices significantly affect the quality of your life:
1. What you eat and drink, and how much
2. What you put into your mind
3. Whether you exercise
4. How you spend your money, and how much you save
5. Whom you associate with
Drinking water instead of soda. (healthier, saves money)
Hanging out with friends in a bar or working on the PowerPoint presentation for the client meeting you’ll be facilitating next week. (move your career forward, saves money)
Consuming news or having a meaningful discussion with a close friend. (better for your mental health, connecting with someone)
Donating to a local food bank or buying gifts trying to impress people. (giving back to your community, practising gratitude, paying it forward)
2022 is here and, therefore, the perfect chance to get in the habit of making beautiful choices.
You know you deserve better. You know you’re capable of better. Where your life at any given moment is the sum of your choices. Envision where you want to be on Saturday, December 31st, 2022. 40-kg lighter? Earning $30,000 more? In a romantic relationship? On your way to mastering a new language or skill? Writing that book, you keep saying you want to write? A better job
Choose where you want to make real changes in your life or where you have a powerful ‘why’ for wanting to do so and make beautiful choices that will lead to that change. Whatever your end vision is, better choices—beautiful choices—will get you there.
The decision to read this article was beautiful; now, commit yourself to make beautiful choices throughout 2022. Better choices will help you look and feel better and be in a better place.
Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan.