“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~J.K. Rowling

No matter the uncontrollable circumstances that unfold and affect our lives, we always retain the ability and power to choose how we react — whether or not we will fight on.

For all that cannot be controlled in our lives, we as human beings — free thinkers, believers, dreamers — always possess the aptitude to choose how we react to the difficult and trying situations that are sure to unfold.

Although life is uncertain, if anything in life is certain it is choice. We always possess the ability to choose to fight, to believe, to strive, to dream, and finally, to overcome.

Relinquish Control, Retain Choice

In the first part of this blog post on Thursday, we began discussing two vital principles for living a spiritually balanced and content life: Relinquish control. Retain choice. These two principles are beautifully summed up in a simple, anonymous quote: “You can not always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.”

Why relinquish control? The nature of life is such that we can’t ever achieve control over many of the circumstances that unfold in our lives. Striving to obtain control only enslaves us; we become controlled by what we cannot control. But by learning to relinquish the idea that we can find, grasp, and hold onto actual “control” over what happens in our lives, we become liberated — free to fully experience life, no matter what unfolds.

Regardless of what difficulties we encounter, no matter what suffering we are forced to endure, no matter what injustices befall us, we always retain choice. We are always and forever free to choose how we will react to life’s uncertainties. Fight on, or quit? Live the rest of your life feeling like a helpless victim, or fight on like hell? Heroes are made of those who overcome.

The Certainty of Choice

I don’t believe that each human life is scripted. I don’t believe there are predetermined, predestined futures for all individual beings, and not for our entire world at large. No matter your spiritual background or personal beliefs, most human religions, spiritualities, and modern political philosophies are rooted in the inherent belief in human choice — that the human species possesses independent and free will.

In the Catholic faith, free will is exemplified in the concept of human sin: that each human being, although perpetually tempted and tested by wrongdoing and evils, has the ability to choose whether to sin or to do good. In the Buddhist faith, there is the concept of Karma: that the choices of human beings to do good or wrong will affect their rebirths in future lives.

A cornerstone of human civilization is the understanding that human beings possess free will — the power to choose and make decisions, if only within the confines of their own minds. This is the Certainty of Choice. The Certainty of Choice dictates that no matter what events unfold in our lives, regardless of what hardships or circumstances befall us, we always and forever retain the ability to choose how to encounter and respond to them.

And So Begins Your Hero Story

Think of any comic book superhero. Their stories of triumph begin on the heels of suffering from circumstances beyond their control, like the loss of a loved one, some incredibly hardship or injustice that has suddenly befallen them. Comic book superhero stories begin when the character makes the decision to endure, to live the mission, to fight on.

Months ago, I wrote of Heroism in real life and how heroism is rarely ever exemplified through human perfection. Rather, heroism is most often exemplified through the efforts of ordinary men and women who persistently strive to overcome their natural imperfections: individual shortcomings, social disadvantages and personal demons that render all human beings far from perfect creatures.

No different, the happiness and balance that we strive find in our lives is typified by how we respond to circumstances and events that occur outside of our control. We already understand that so much in our lives can’t be influenced by our will and desire; such is the unpredictable nature of life. If life is anything, it is uncertain. Nevertheless, an inherent part of our species’ core dictates that we, as human beings, always retain the certainty of choice.

Be like the leaves that change come autumn: the transition of the seasons is beyond their control, but nothing dictates how they flutter to earth but themselves. No matter what unfolds, never forget that you have the ability to choose to overcome it. Relinquish control. Retain choice. Achieve greater balance, happiness and inner peace.