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Musings: Making Choices…

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“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” Kofi Annan

Musings: Making Choices... The Farmer and The Viper... Choose Wisely

How do you make choices? Do you find yourself choosing easy outs over tough decisions? What got me thinking about the choices we make were the two questions you see here: This one from Plinky  – Would you rather have one free trip to space or free international travel for life? and this from Daily Post – What should you do when sick on vacation? While these questions might be easy decisions for us to make, there are choices/decisions/questions we tackle that require a lot of reflection, consultation, and even prayer.

Every day, we make endless choices vis-a-vis decisions about our lives and the lives of others in our care. We engage in one of five types of choices that shape our decision-making; Commands as a leader, Delegated decisions, Avoided choices, No-brainer choices and Collaborative decisions. All have consequences; though some have less impact than others. Are there decisions that are unclear? Some we regret? Sure. Sometimes, we have experiences in life that lead to tough decisions to make. The outcomes could be positive or disastrous… we must still make a choice.  Below are stories and lessons learned on the subject of Choice. How do you decide?

The Farmer And The Viper
One winter, a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold, and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom. The Viper was no sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a fatal bite upon him; and as the poor man lay dying, he cried, “I have only got what I deserved, for taking compassion on so villainous a creature…” Lesson: Kindness is thrown away upon the evil. Don’t throw pearls to swine.
Aesop’s Fable

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” Robert Fritz

Musings: Making Choices... Scorpion wine or....?

The Scorpion and the Frog
Once upon a time a scorpion wanted to cross a brook. On the bank he saw a frog and asked if the frog would give him a ride to the other side.
“Oh no,” says the frog, “If I carry you on my back you will sting me.”
“But why would I sting you when we would both surely perish,” replied the scorpion.
The frog eventually conceded that the scorpion had a point, and agreed to the request.
Half way across, the scorpion stung the frog, and they both began to drown.
“But why did you break your word and sting me, knowing it would be certain death for us both?” cried the frog.”Because it is in my nature.” said the scorpion.
Author Unknown

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

Musings: Making Choices... Two Wolves... Good and Evil?

Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Author Unknown

“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” William James

Musings: Making Choices... Old Mule or Wise Mule?

Don’t You Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Author Unknown

The Old Mule
Once upon a time a farmer owned an old mule who tripped and fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule braying and was unable to figure out how to bring up the old animal. It grieved him that he could not pull the animal out. He’d been a good worker around the farm. Although the farmer sympathized with the mule, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened. He had them help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and quietly put him out of his misery.
At first, the old mule was puzzled, but as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, he had a thought: he ought to shake off the dirt and step up. And he did just that.
“Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up.” Even though he took painful blows of dirt and fought panic, he just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule stepped up and over the lip of that well. What could have buried him actually blessed him…all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
Author Unknown

What motivates us to choose Option A over Option B when both seem reasonable? What triggers an impulsive decision we later regret? What gives us pause and make us indecisive about a situation? Our values, attitude, ethics, life experiences and fears. Regardless of what/how we choose, the more sobering fact is that we can’t choose the consequences of our actions and that is why we must choose wisely. My answer to the two prompts and more stories below… How do you make tough choices? 🙂
***Happy 51st Independence Birthday to Nigeria… born, October 1, 1960! 🙂
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling

Musings: Making Choices... We always choose something...

The Retiring Carpenter Story
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. He would get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.
So it is with us. We build our lives a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then, with shock, we realize we have to live in the house we built. If we could do it over, we’d do it differently. But we cannot go back. You are the carpenter. Each day, you hammer a nail, place a board, erect a wall. “Life is a do-it-yourself project,” someone has said. Your attitude and the choices you make today build the “house” you live in tomorrow. Build wisely!
Author Unknown

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Gautama Buddha

Musings: Making Choices... Every day we make choices...

Buddha and the Abuse
It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.
The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, “If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?”
“The giver,” said the group after a little thought. “Any fool can see that,” added the angry stranger.
“Then it follows, does it not,” said the Buddha, “Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings.”
Author Unknown

All of these stories give us insights into choices made, the outcomes and the lessons learned. Every time we make a choice, there is a consequence; some are innocuous and others are serious and might affect other people too. So choose wisely. As per the questions asked, I will choose one trip to space as world travel can always be made. As to getting sick abroad, I have and went to a hospital; fortunately, it was in Toronto, Canada and I got great and free care. One can also purchase travel insurance… and depending on the nature of the sickness, we can choose to go home. What are your thoughts? How do you make choices? Would you choose something easy over something tough? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

***By the way, Seth Godin is having a Teleconference on Monday, October 3, 2011 to discuss/answer questions on his new book, We All Old Weird. More details on his blog post here: Invitation to a teleconference for We Are All Weird

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Plinky: Would you rather have one free trip to space or free international travel for life? and from WP Daily Post: What should you do when sick on vacation? Can you recall a time when you went on a big trip, but got sick? What did you do? Did you try to rest and improve your health, or did you stubbornly push on and fight to make the most of it?

Positive Motivation Tip: Choose wisely; all decisions have consequences, for while we can make choices, we can’t choose the results.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Farmer & Viper, Scorpio wine, Mule Juancito, Carpentry Tools, Choice 2 people, via Wikipedia… Two Wolves by Laenulfean, via Flickr. STORIES: All via Stories for Trainers Aesop’s Fable – The Farmer and The Viper, via

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

44 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/10/2011 9:33 pm

    Thank you for reminding me of these. Love them all; think the Wolf you feed the best. Stay strong as I tell myself.

    • 01/10/2011 11:14 pm

      TY Kath for your feedback… I’ve always loved that story since I first read it. It has so much wisdom… 🙂

  2. 01/10/2011 11:32 pm

    Making choice requires a lot of energy but we have to think about better choices as much as possible.

  3. 02/10/2011 1:31 am

    Sure thing. The goal is to make smarter/better choices so our outcomes won’t be shocking. Sometimes, we have a tougher time choosing because the answer or outcome isn’t quite as clear. TY! 🙂

  4. 02/10/2011 4:08 am

    the donkey is wise because he did not decide to be a passenger of the ship in his background; he stayed ashore = wise; too many pirates on the oceans nowadays!

    • 03/10/2011 5:09 pm

      😆 I thought that was scrap metal? Well, good for him then because if he met the pirates, he might end up as a shield of dinner… TY! 🙂

  5. 02/10/2011 4:18 am

    “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” Robert Fritz – reply by Dietmar FRITZE:
    Mr. Fritz forgets, that it is the best strategy only to focus those things we really have the chance to change. If we set higher goals we destroy ourselves. We can’t change the whole world.

    • 03/10/2011 5:12 pm

      Actually, in his defense, he is not saying change the world but change yourself by reaching higher… He is not recommending outrageous choices but choices that help us grow. For instance, Olympic athletes push themselves to get better, to exceed the norm, so they can beat their competition. TY! 🙂

  6. 02/10/2011 7:22 am

    These are all really good stories, Elizabeth. I enjoyed this post.

    • 03/10/2011 5:13 pm

      Tilly, I’m glad you enjoyed the stories… which was your favorite? TY! 🙂

  7. 02/10/2011 7:51 am

    Love this!
    I had heard the Scorpion one before must it was with a turtle instead of a frog…These are all good stories and I especially loved the poem, “Don’t you quit”…yet another reassuring read I need. It really goes along with the post I did yesterday based on the quote about not quitting on writing. 🙂

    • 03/10/2011 5:26 pm

      Cool… You should take the poem and add it to that quote then Sharon. We can update posts and include new information. I enjoyed the stories too and would do this ever day if I could find suitable stories or find more time to write my own. TY! 🙂

  8. 02/10/2011 7:51 am

    Love the Kofi Annan quote and this whole post! Others may have heard these stories before but I’ve never heard a single one of them. I’m glad you started this post with that quote because I think it’s so true that the first choice we make is who we are and what we stand for and then all the other choices will flow from that. Sometimes, I get lost. I don’t know what I stand for anymore. But you have that wonderful poem, Don’t You Quit as if you are talking directly to me. I too, loved the story of The Two Wolves as well!

    Sometimes, I just feel lucky to have found you, Elizabeth and today is one of those times. Thank you for this post! I really needed it! <3

    • 03/10/2011 5:32 pm

      I am lucky to have found YOU Karen. You have been a generous supporter and blogger friend and I have learned a lot from your blog too. I love Kofi Annan’s quote too as it covers the topic well… I’m glad you enjoyed the stories… I find I can read a story over and over again and still enjoy it. TY! 🙂

  9. 02/10/2011 9:37 am

    Thank you Liz for another insightful post full of wonderful universal stories. And thanks so much for subscribing to my blog. Blessings.

    • 03/10/2011 5:33 pm

      Glad to get acquainted with your blog posts and others… I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I have enjoyed your blog too. TY! 🙂

  10. 02/10/2011 9:46 am

    Wonderful collection of stories, E!

    I agree with Kofi Annan . . . when we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live. 😀

    • 03/10/2011 5:35 pm

      It is a terrific quote and so true to life and how we define ourselves. At the end of the day, it is up to us what we choose to do… and it becomes us. TY! 🙂

  11. 02/10/2011 10:16 am

    I really needed this today. Buddha and the Abuse really resonated with a quandary I’m dealing with at the moment. Thank You!

    I’d choose International Travel for life. Space really doesn’t interest me.


    • 03/10/2011 5:46 pm

      I hope all is well Barbara… Anything I can do to support you? I’m delighted that you found comfort in the Buddha story… Yeah, we have to not let others drag us into their drama; life is short! Be strong.
      OK, I chose Space as it’s a one time affair and I can always do world travel. TY! 🙂

  12. 02/10/2011 11:05 am

    Great post, Liz. I suppose I have used all types of choices at one time or another. Right now I’m dealing with one that could have me moved to another position at school, but my goal is to protect my students and give them as much as they deserve.

    Never read the wolf story before–love it.

    • 03/10/2011 5:48 pm

      Same here with the choices made; I have used some version of all of them too. Hope the school situation gets resolved… Do you have a say in the matter?Sending prayers and blessings! TY! 🙂

  13. 02/10/2011 12:42 pm

    Thank you Liz for your inspiring, thoughtful and thought provoking posts. In gratitude I nominate you for a versatile blogger award.

    • 03/10/2011 5:59 pm

      Oh! TY so much for the award… I precipitate your kindness and accept the reward with joy! 🙂

  14. 02/10/2011 1:15 pm

    All great inspirational stories. I like the Buddha one as well. Thanks, Elizabeth!

    • 03/10/2011 6:02 pm

      Same here, love the Buddha, and thank you for stopping by to comment! 🙂

  15. 02/10/2011 1:57 pm

    What choice do I make? Read your posts every day, Eliz!
    Each story and accompanying photo or illustration in this post really touched my heart…I actually had to share each one with my husband and I am off to tweet and post your post on Facebook.
    The wolf story resonated with me the most and I had not heard that one before…so so so very true. Why don’t we all feed our positive side?

    • 03/10/2011 6:10 pm

      Oh Viv! You are so sweet! TY! Oh, I’m touched by your comment and hope your hubby enjoyed it. 🙂 TY for giving my blog a big boost as it also got a lovely Stumbleupon push too! 😉
      It would be a good thing if we fed our positive side more often… but it is a choice 🙂

  16. 02/10/2011 3:26 pm

    Happy Birthday to Nigeria from us too, Elizabeth.

    We are certainly a family that knows about choices – we’ve, all of us, had to make many choices, collectively and individually, over the last few years.

    I particularly like the Wolf story and the William James quotation. We have been discussing choices in our house over the last few days, so this is very topical. I’m going to have the children read at least the Wolf story.

    • 03/10/2011 6:13 pm

      TY Robyn, I hear you… yes, you have been a household of choices; big and small of late… Let me know which story the children like. I’m curious…
      Nigeria is also in need of some new choices to help the citizenry… We all could use new ones too, I suppose. 🙂

  17. 02/10/2011 10:00 pm

    Life is all about choices. I am not sure if they are right or wrong but how we react to choices made. Great stories here Eliz 🙂

    • 03/10/2011 6:16 pm

      Sure life is full of choices and some take us on one path and some on another. There are choices that are clearly bad ones; you know, the usual suspects that can get one locked up. Then there are choices that are clearly beneficial… Finally, we have choices that fall in that gray area and the outcome is a toss up. Yes, I concur that our reaction is important… TY! 🙂

  18. 03/10/2011 1:29 am

    “So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” Words that gave me encouragement , strength and the inspiration to persevere. Everything about this post is just one delicious food for the heart and soul. Those short stories are just full of life learning lessons. My favorite was about the two wolves and the last words caught my attention, “Which wolf wins?”
    The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” This reminded that everyday we struggle to control the bad wolf in us and hope to feed and nurture the good wolf. But it’s a hard struggle and we need posts like this to reminds us that we can choose the light. Stay blessed my friend.

    • 03/10/2011 6:20 pm

      TY Island T I love your feedback too. The Two Wolves sounds like a hit with many here. I love the moral of the story and the way it was shared.I agree with you that we all need reminders to stay in the light… Blessings to you too! 🙂

  19. 03/10/2011 2:14 pm

    “Tough” versus “easy” hasn’t been a huge factor in choices since I chose law school over med school on that basis. I did avoid a few extra years, but I avoided them by sinking $120k of debt into something I didn’t actually want to be doing–oy! Of course, I’m far enough away now that I see those choices led me to where I’m at now, which is a place I love.

    Choices are usually pretty instinctive for me. If I’m lucky, both my head and heart will be in synch on a matter. If they’re not, I tend to choose based on which is yelling louder. Not perhaps the best strategy, but again, I’m glad with where it’s landed me so far!

    I had that wolf tale posted on my cube for a couple of years, by the way. It’s still in an envelope of cube decorations I haven’t yet unpacked . . . nearly four years after moving back to Los Angeles! (Avoiding unpacking: an easy choice to make!)

    • 03/10/2011 6:25 pm

      Oy is right on that $120k debt story but you are not alone… Yeah, sometimes our choices are costly financially. However, if it led you to where you are today , living in bliss, then it is worth it.
      The wolf story has always been a favorite of mine and so, whenever I read it, I am reminded again about the role our thoughts and actions play in all of this… Go unpack that cube, lady. TY! 🙂

  20. 03/10/2011 6:34 pm

    Happy 50th Nigeria! Next year will be Jamaica’s turn.
    Love the fact that we have the liberty of choice. The challenge is always to be clear about our choices and be satisfied once they’re made.

    • 14/10/2011 6:32 pm

      Thank you and my prayer is that both nations continue to make wise choices that benefit all of their people. How are you doing? TY! 🙂

  21. 06/10/2011 6:30 am

    A great post. I particularly enjoyed the fables. It seems that fables/parables make the point in clear, concise ways. The choices between good and evil, it seems every culture has ways of addressing the pull between the two. In Judaism we call it the good inclination and the evil inclination, both within us all, both vying for our attention, which will we choose? Again, a great post.

    • 14/10/2011 6:34 pm

      I love the idea of the good inclination and the evil inclination… We all have them and the gift is knowing how to temper evil and do good. TY! 🙂


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