We face numerous choices each day. Some of them, perhaps more of them than we realize, ask us to choose between what is right and what is easy.
I’m a Harry Potter fan. I know that some people think it’s a book and movie series to be avoided, but I’ve found many gems in both formats (don’t get me started on the brilliance of giving Harry the choice between pursuing Horcruxes or Hallows, a classic example of choosing between what is right and what is easy). At the end of the “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, when it’s known by some that Voldemort has returned, Dumbledore tells Harry: “Soon, we will face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” In this fictional instance, the difference between the two is obvious: the choice between aligning with good or with evil, and facing what may and will be required as well as potential consequences of each.
Some choices between right and easy that we face are just as obvious (and we readily know which we’ll choose), but not all of them. Why is that? I think Barbara Berger addresses this in her book Are You Happy Now? quite well when she states that every thought, word, and action, which, in my way of thinking as it relates to this topic, means every simple or complex choice, has consequences. So, perhaps it isn’t as much about not knowing the difference between what is right and what is easy, but about our thoughts or fears about possible or probable consequences. Some of our own confusion about this stems from what Barbara calls our uninvestigated thoughts and stories. She’s also right (and wise) in saying that every choice we face awaits our stamp of integrity; and that the intention underneath our choice is what ultimately matters. Here are some choices that many of us have in common.
You feel stressed so reach for something sweet to eat or drink (or maybe you’re one who reaches for something salty with crunch). I saw a social site posting that explained this well: Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Is it right or is it easy to choose sweets (or any other substitute) to help cope with stress? The answer seems obvious, but is it? Could there ever be a time when choosing something to help you cope at a particular stressful moment might be the right thing to do? Is it a matter of how often this choice is made or if no other choice is ever made? What thoughts about yourself do you have after you make your choice? All of these are personal choices that only you can make based on your inner guidance and self-love and self-approval. Self-judgment is harmful, so what is your choice, including what you choose about self-judgment in this matter? You can see how personal it really is in this example, and in the two that follow; but for now, what is for your highest good about your choice here?
You pick up a contagious ailment, let’s say the flu. Do you go to work or school or out in public as though nothing is wrong? What will others expect of you? What do you expect of yourself? Should you allow such expectations to influence you? Will you harm yourself or others more if you stay home or if you go about your business as usual? Can you afford (on one or more levels) to stay home? Can you afford (on one or more levels) not to? What is for your highest good about your choice here?
You’re in a relationship that you know doesn’t work for you or isn’t appropriate for you. Do you get involved with someone else at the same time, or use alcohol or drugs (even prescribed ones) to help you stay in the relationship? Are you afraid of change, of being alone, of being thought of as a failure at relationships (maybe again)? What is for your highest good about your choice here? I could continue with examples, but so could you, because who knows you or your life and experiences better than you do?
Not all choices are black-and-white; there will be some with many shades of gray, demonstrated by something I heard on National Public Radio years back: “Paper or plastic? Hmm... Cut down trees or pollute the earth?” Granted, some people began to use cloth sacks to carry groceries, but you see what I mean about how some choices between what is right and what is easy are not exactly clear and simple, because of the potential consequences and what may be required of us.
So, it seems that every choice is a matter of realizing there will be consequences. There will be a matter of personal integrity. There may be a matter of fears to be faced and addressed. There may be a matter of inconvenience, great or small. There may be a matter of other people’s expectations, real and or imagined by you. You may also be someone who finds it difficult to ask for assistance, so try to do everything on your own. You may forget that Source is your greatest and eternal assistant, so you are never alone and never without assistance if you are open to asking and receiving it from Source, including about making a choice.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Why might this be true? If you don’t know yourself, you’ll find certain choices challenging to make. You may find the choice between doing what is “right” or doing what is “easy” daunting. If you don’t know yourself, how will you know which of your feelings to trust or which of your stories to not let sway your decision? If you don’t know yourself, you’ll find it difficult to be assertive on your behalf, and will either go into passive or aggressive behaviors, or alternate between the two. You may cause yourself to believe you are responsible for the happiness of others, so you’ll people-please at possibly great cost to you and your life; you’ll make choices based on what will satisfy others rather than what will fulfill you.
If it’s right for you (appropriate for you, for whatever reason) to say “no” to a demanding person, how easy is that for you to do? This question can be applied to any choice you face between what is right and what is easy. What can happen as a result of facing this or any choice is that you’ll see whether it’s your spiritual self or your shadow self that stands out more at such a time (or all or most of the time). Is it your personal power or your inner wounds making the choice?
As difficult as it may be to contemplate this, it’s possible that when you’re miserable, especially if you’re miserable a good deal of the time, most of the time, or all of the time, your wounded self is making the choices, and the choices are likely about what is easy (or more familiar) rather than what is right (which may require you to stretch and leave your comfort zone, and do something different or differently). Please don’t be discouraged as a result of becoming aware of this. What this means is that your inner wounds are bringing “emotional infections” to the surface so you put your attention on healing them rather than continuing to suppress them. This can be frightening; so rather than doing what’s right, we’ll do what’s easy, even if it causes us to suffer. And that is often a matter of repeating what hasn’t worked and doesn’t work, as though this time it might. The result is usually intensification of the experience(s) we wish would stop, and to stop by our wishing it so rather than our making a choice to change ourselves.
What sometimes blocks clarity between what is right and what is easy is concern about what others will think. What is right for you is a personal matter and it helps to consider, as I mentioned earlier, what will be in your highest good, whether for that particular moment or matter or longer-term, or both. You could say that when it comes to what is right when it involves others, that this should be taken into consideration—and there’s merit in that—but it will still, ultimately, come down to that stamp of integrity and that matter of intention Barbara Berger wrote about.
This is because you are the only one who has to live with your choices in such a deeply personal way, no matter who else is affected, though, that will give weight to your decision. Ultimately, it’s not only a matter of what you can live with, but how you’ll be able to live with yourself. Granted, there are people with psychological disorders who can live with choices those without never could, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about people without such disorders that skew choice-making, people whose choices often or sometimes happen to be influenced by inner wounds.
There’s no right or easy way to address the choice between doing what’s right or what is easy all of the time. It’s a moment-by-moment, choice-by-choice experience, with possibly much to consider. Not only does this present you with the opportunity to discover who you are, but to decide who you are as you move along the path of your life. Know you will falter at times. When this happens, leave self-judgment or self-condemnation out of this and focus on what you can learn that will help you make a better choice the next time. Focus not on the stumble or fall but on getting back up, dusting yourself off, and continuing to learn and grow as you go.
Your choices are founded on the intention that supports your choice, and integrity, whether in their favor or not, whether you’re aware of this or not—though, now you are aware of this. You have the power, and the right, in each moment to decide who and how you want to be, based on your intention and integrity. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer