FOCUS:Choosing in Every Moment

Personal Mastery

Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.
Wayne Dyer


With really big things it’s easy to notice we have a choice. What shall I do with the rest of my life? Shall I marry this person? It’s harder to realize I’m choosing in every moment on little, everyday things. What to do, feel, think, say? How to say it? Whether to be cheerful or grumpy. Every time I remember how many choices I have in a day, I feel both liberated and overwhelmed. Often I’m not even aware of the choices I make. Or it feels like someone else MADE me choose this or that.

Recently I came across something I’d written as an assignment for a class. The assignment was about choosing my way of being. Whew! The goal was to experience what it was like to keep my heart open to another person, choosing to shift the focus off myself enough to see that person fully. Here’s the story I wrote:

Hal and I had been to a long planning meeting, which ended at 6:00 pm. I'd brought along coupons for a restaurant on the way home, thinking eating out would be better than going home and cooking. I told Hal my plan. He responded that he'd hoped we could go to Aiello's Pizza place, because he so loved those pizzas and hadn't had one in a long time. I immediately felt the red flag of irritation rise up in me. Aiello's was 20 minutes further away from our house, we might run into terrible traffic (we had to drive by the baseball stadium and the Pirates were playing at home) I don't eat cheese, so pizza is out for me, etc. However, the good news is that I'm recognizing my red flags more quickly, and I really don't like having a warring heart. So, in an instant, I thought of my mother, a huge example for me of an open hearted person, relaxed into her smile, came back to Hal feeling softer toward him, toward my thwarted plan, toward taking him to Aiello's. I also had a quick insight that I often get attached to my plans and think they're BETTER THAN anyone else's plans....(close to home, coupon, no cheese) but that really his request was not that big. (Hal can't drive anymore because of poor eyesight, and he used to LOVE driving and going to adventurous places, so he is very dependent on me and my willingness to take him places that are fun for him.)

I also thought of how I had a choice then, either to go as a martyr, or keep my heart open. I actually had to make the choice right then. Part of me wanted to be martyred. Then I thought of an alternate route that didn't risk game traffic and off we went. During the ride, I must admit I was a little pouty, still working on not closing my heart. Then, when I realized we'd have to park a fair walk from Aiellos, I was annoyed again because we hadn't realized how cold and windy it was and we were underdressed, and Hal walks very slowly. But then I noticed how happy he was and it softened me again. I thought of what a great model he is - that he gets as excited as a little kid over pizza and is willing to walk through the cold to get to it. I had another moment of annoyance when I studied the menu and saw that there really wasn't anything I wanted to eat there. I'm sharing these little moments because I realize how easily I go in and out, teeter on the edge sometimes, feel the irritation rise and decide whether or not to give in to my warring heart. In the end, he LOVED the pizza and expressed his huge appreciation to me. After we got home and I had something to eat that I really liked better than being out, he said to me "You seem peaceful." And I was.

I loved finding this story for so many reasons.  It reminded me of Hal, who’s no longer with us, and the joy he found in simple things. I was glad to have written this story where I chose well, because I didn’t always do that. Most importantly, I was reminded how we truly choose in every moment, and how choosing to have either a peaceful or a warring heart has a huge impact both on my happiness and on the people around me.


  • What would be different if you chose to have a heart at peace toward all the people in your life? Your family members, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, other drivers on the road?

  • What would it feel like?

  • How can you choose to have an open heart toward others more often?


There will be no telegathering this month because I'm off to the Family Therapy Networker Symposium in Washington, DC, where my daughter Lisa Mitchell is a presenter. If you should be attending, look me up!


Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

Fresh Views E-zine Index

720 Maple Lane, Sewickley, PA 15143
TOLL-FREE: 1(888) 769-3494
FAX: (412) 741-2159