“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor E. Frankl

switchOptions certainly sound like freedom. After all, you can now choose between this or that, or this and these many other things. However freedom is not in the possibilities, it is in the choosing. No freedom exists until you choose. In fact, prior to choosing, you have nothing at all: none of the choices have moved into reality. Incidentally, having no options is actually more free than having many options, because the single option is already the reality.

Consider examining a menu in a restaurant. There are many choices, perhaps many appealing choices. But there can be no freedom from hunger until you make a selection. All other options are lost in that choice, but now you are free to enjoy the meal and free to be filled.

Clinging to options is enslavement. All the “what-ifs” are unrealities. What if you choose the fish, but the chicken is better? What if, indeed. Nothing changes in the real world. You experienced the fish and that experience is real, recorded in time and irrevocable. You made choices even before ordering the fish. Which restaurant shall I visit? Before that choice, what type of food do I want? But no food was eaten, enjoyed or experienced but the one choice (really, the one string of choices), no longer among unnumbered options but now a reality.

“Apparently freedom isn’t optional after all.” click to tweet

Options are a trap. Choosing is freedom from the trap. You do not lose the unchosen options when choosing because they never had any reality. Do not confuse possibility with reality. Life springs from possibility but it does not and cannot stay there.

Now take the next step. Freedom springs from a single choice. So your obligation is to choose: choose mindfully, choose presently, and choose often.

Where has actively making a choice made a difference for you? Please share your comments below.

Photo credit: Martin Deutsch

Why Options Do Not Mean Freedom
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2 thoughts on “Why Options Do Not Mean Freedom

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    Wow! I have always told myself that choices are power. The problem is I keep my options open for so long that the choices start going away. I guess it makes sense to just pick one and go from there.

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    This is a great article Kenneth – I love your perspective – the freedom is in the choice! I remember the day that I walked into a pharmacy to get some toothpaste and I was suddenly struck by the options – literally I counted – there were 47 different styles of CREST alone! Not to mention the options for Colgate, Arm & Hammar, Toms of Maine or any of the other less “creative” brands – a whole wall – literally devoted to just Crest options! It was very freeing to just pick one!

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