Choices: Good or Bad, They Pen Your Autobiography

What are Your Choices Saying?

I read an article this morning by a mother who’d recently taken her 15 year old daughter to the DMV for her permit’s license.

Here’s an excerpt:

Yesterday I sat at the DMV with my 15 year-old daughter while an officer talked to Ashley about how important it is to make good choices. She was getting her learner’s permit and entering the often scary world of teenage drivers. “We’ve had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe,” the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

I’ve never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. My husband and I wrote a driving contract that we’ve made each of our teenaged children sign. I’m sure our kids have thought our contract to be a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child. –   Lysa Ter Keurst

The author or, more importantly, the mother went on to explain how her daughter was encouraged to make RIGHT decisions when behind the wheel of a car as opposed to WRONG, SILLY decisions such as texting, playing music too loud, acting foolish, taking pictures of herself or friends, and so forth.  You know, the sort of things that lead to the hospital.  Or worse.

I’ve been thinking a lot about choices lately, this article just kind of brought all of these thoughts full circle. As the old saying goes, choices are the hinges of destiny.  When we make bad choices, the odds of opening bad doors go through the roof.  Karma exists and she has teeth.

How can reasonably intelligent people make so many poor choices?  I’ve often asked myself this question and can’t say that I have any answers.  Either they aren’t as intelligent as they’re given credit for OR they fall for lies like I fall for chocolate – hard and every time.

Here’s an example:  Jersey Shore.  Plenty of people are going to hate me (and probably out loud) for this – after all, it’s a very popular show.  I, for one, am not AT ALL happy about that fact.  Here’s why.  The “cast” of Jersey Shore is known for doing two things on/off the show:

  1. Drinking – a lot.
  2. Sleeping around – a lot.

Our young people are watching this show religiously.  They’re laughing about it.  They’re dressing, tanning, and doing their hair like the Jersey Shore cast.  The show is a “reality” show but, like a lot of reality shows, it’s played up a great deal.    Problem is, a lot of young people don’t “get” that.   They see these people who come into their living rooms and bedrooms each week as funny, cool, and hot.  They’re trying to emulate them and I don’t have to tell you how that should scare the wits out of parents… all adults, for that matter.  Seriously, do we want a generation of people making nothing BUT stupid choices?!?!  What do any of these people do to make the world a better place?  How do they help those who can’t help themselves?

“Life is the sum of all your choices.” – Albert Camus

Bad Choices

Let’s take drinking alcohol. How, in any shape or form is that a good choice? Drinking isn’t smart, it isn’t cool, and it certainly isn’t pretty. Drinking, followed by driving… I’m sorry, but that’s simply ignorance in its lowest form.

How about promiscuity? Sexually-transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and hideous reputations lie on the other side of this particular door. Pretty?  Hardly

Drugs? Smoking?  Again, poor choices that don’t lead to anyplace worth going.

Drinking, drugs, and smoking harm the individual physically, mentally, and emotionally. Poor choices tend to do that – in spades.  So, why do people keep doing them?!?!  Again, I think they fall for the LIES.  They see silly, ridiculous celebrities and reality-show stars doing it and they foolishly fall for the image… “OH! This is what cool people do.  This is the only way to have fun.”

LIES.

I’m sorry if I’m preaching.  I really am.  I’m not trying to because (A) It’s not in my nature and (B) I’m not the least bit qualified to do so!  I simply want to see humans prove that they’re capable of making good choices.  As a mother, I admit my heart goes out mainly to young people.  I can’t help it – I just want to gather everyone under the age of 30 in a room and plead with them to make good choices in their life.  I want to tell them how precious their life is and how they can use it to actually do something positive in their life as well as in the world.  These young people who are so passionate about taking their pictures and posting them on Facebook… who are so passionate about hitting up weekend parties… who are so passionate about watching Jersey Shore – I wish I could make them see that they deserve more from life than that.

And it deserves more from them.

I’d love to introduce them to children with very special needs, animals who are being mistreated and neglected, abused women and children, patients who are undergoing chemo, young people who are being bullied because they’re so-called different, and so forth.  I’d love for them to see all of the needs in the world.  NEEDS that they could help take care of if they’d step outside of themselves and stop making bad decision after bad decision.

Good Choices

Two of my daughters (Emily and Stephany) and I were talking recently about taking a stand for someone or something in life.  Each of these girls does just that.  I’m ridiculously proud of them for that.  Not only do they avoid BAD choices (neither smokes or drinks, and Tylenol’s their only drug), they avoid people who make BAD choices. That’s key.  What’s more, they make GOOD choices.   Emily works with children who are challenged and feels particularly drawn to the Muscular Dystrophy cause.  She’s “all about” every cause or organization that seeks to help improve the lives of children. She understands how precious children are and would fight a zombie clown for a child she’d never met.

The clown wouldn’t stand a chance.

Stephany is my tree hugger.  She’s passionate about conservation, the environment, and saving every animal on the planet (wonder where she got that from?).  Like her mom, she often goes in a direction that some would call “too far.”  For example, she’s on an anti Swamp People crusade!  That’s my girl.  If you ask me, it’s better to go too far than to not go at all.  Steph always lets me know about what Madonna is up to – things like providing fresh water for communities, etc.   Someone who’s music I loved as a teenager is now inspiring my youngest daughter in a positive way.  I love that.

The Material Girl is using her materials to make the world a better place.

Like Angelina Jolie and other celebrities, it’s like the light kicked on.  They realized that there was far more to life than celebrating themselves or making money.  They realized that true happiness and joy come from improving other’s lives, not your own.

My middle daughter, Brittany, wasn’t with us on this particular walk and talk fest.  However, Britt also cares about making a difference in the world.  She feels passionate breast cancer research and autism.  I remember years ago, while we were homeschooling, she read about Autism in a health textbook.  It spiked her interest, so I had her do a research paper on the subject.  She fell in love with autistic individuals!  I believe she’s read every book ever written about autism.

Personally, my own causes are Down’s Syndrome, animal protection, world hunger, Muscular Dystrophy, bullying, heart disease and cancer research.  Each one of us FEELS for all of the needs, but we’ve chosen our own particular fights.  I honestly wish everyone would find what they feel most passionate about in life and follow that cause.  Support the cause(s) financially, with word of mouth… basically in any way you can.  Place badges and banners on your websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter pages.  Even if it takes making a pest out of yourself – sometimes that’s what it takes to get the job done!

Right, good, positive choices.  They’re better for the individual, the community, and the world in general.

Another cause I’ve really taken up is battling the drinking epidemic in young people.  Again, I don’t mind making a pest (or worse) out of myself.  In fact, I kind of insist upon it. I don’t want young people (or old ones, for that matter) throwing their lives away with one of the dumbest choices known. Keep your head and wits about you – stay in the game!  Ask Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson how cool drinking really is. It looks a hot mess if you ask me.

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” - David Russell

Think about the quote above, it’s a beaut.  Sometimes, I believe, people can “burn” bad bridges simply by choosing a better bridge.  If you have bad choices in your life (it could even be something unrelated to one of the things we talked about – it could be anger issues, bigotry, overeating, gambling, overspending…) – call them out on the floor!  Make a decision to burn that bridge and cross a better bridge.  Take up a new, positive hobby or – better yet – a cause you feel passionate about.  If you’re burning a particular bridge that you KNOW others are on… why not take up the cause?!  After all, you know the pitfalls, the temptations, and so forth.  Pull a Harriet Tubman and go back for others who are in bondage.

You could make a positive difference in the lives of others.  What a legacy!

It’s time for the ME generation and the FACEBOOK generation to wake up and take a look around.  There’s more to life than you and more important things than letting the good times roll. Snap out of it and lend a hand.

A final thought about decisions and choices.  If you’re on the fence about something, or waving back and forth like an autumn leaf on a tree – remember this:  With time, indecision becomes decision. If you’re indecisive about making your life COUNT for something – you’re actually making your decision.  You’ve decided that it will count for nothing.

Talk about a tragedy.

If you have any special causes or crosses you’ve personally taken up, use the comments section to bring attention to them.  That’s how all great progress begins – bringing attention to the need.  If you are interested in finding a cause that needs you, first of all GOOD FOR YOU!  Second of all, one of the first places I’d go is http://pujolsfamilyfoundationblog.org/

Drug abusers young and old alike would do well to consider joining a drug addiction recovery program to completely eliminate drugs from their lives.

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Comments

  1. I think people make wrong choices for many reasons.. the media and TV shows have something to do with it, but it’s due to our biological nature.. we’re wired to crave sex, to crave alcohol, or drugs, or anything that gives us a dopamine mix at the expense of our emotional well being. Finding an external focus like a cause or a passion is a great way to channel that energy that’s wasted in such useless activities.
    Henway´s last blog post ..My Accutane Experience

  2. Henway, I agree. I think the human race and the world, in general, would benefit greatly if we all lived out your last sentence!

  3. I think one thing people need to realize is that the good choices in your life don’t have to be BIG ones. It’s often the sum of the little things we do that have a bigger impact on the world around us than the big things do. Having and supporting a cause is great, but how do you treat the people in your life? Do you stop to help someone pick up something they’ve dropped? Do you smile at the cashier when you buy your groceries? Or do you act as if these people don’t matter, or even don’t exist? Even the decision to make your own life better can be a good decision that helps others, if you approach it in the right way and for the right reasons.
    Pam Komarnicki´s last blog post ..“What’s Wrong With Me” – How To Ask Questions That Don’t Make You Feel Like Crap

  4. angelca says:

    Hi Ms. Joi. Love how you presented your main point here. Glad that you mentioned about famous celebrities like Angelina Jolie putting their fame and influence to cause of higher kind, moving beyond self. I share the same thoughts with you.

    What most of the young people of today consider ‘cool’ is saddening and alarming. But with the rest of the young individuals who embrace the authentic and deeper meaning of their existences, I truly am proud of them. What your daughters are doing are great examples. With people, young or old, standing up for someone or something in life meaningfully is something of a force and even more collectively so, should everyone bravely starts it with themselves, triggering positively influential change inside out.

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