The myth of obligation

A Note From Dr. Beverly Nelson, Director

Do we have a choice?

I believe that one of the things that fills the world with so much chaos, injustice and sadness is that a large part of humanity is not doing what makes them happy. Happiness is a choice, but sometimes making that choice doesn’t come as easily as we might think.

While we all face challenges and difficulties, and each of us has a journey to make, there are some people who have to face obstacles presented by their surroundings; they may not have the luxury of choice; many of them never have the support that only a loving family and/or a great group of friends can provide. Sometimes the only option is to take the road that leads to survival. While many of these people are able to overcome their circumstances, no matter how difficult (think about Malala Yousafzai, for example) it’s not always possible. What is to become of these broken spirits, then? Is it surprising, then, that all this hurt and sadness finds a way to erupt here and there? We owe it to all of them to exercise our freedom, and to be happy, and to help others be happy whenever we can. There is enough suffering in the world for us to add to it, don’t you think?

Most of us have freedom to choose and therefore, we are free to pursue our happiness. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this – everything in our lives, and many of the people in it, may lead us into thinking that we are trapped. That we must do this, or that. That we have no choice. Next time you feel this way, I encourage you to take a break, and ask yourself: do I have a choice? The answer might surprise you and your life will change dramatically, for the better

If you are reading this newsletter, it’s very likely that (while your life may not be permanently blissful – after all, whose is?) you have freedom of choice. It’s easy to forget that many of our obligations are actually the product of choices: yes, even if we have to work for a living, we still get to choose the conditions. If we have to live in a certain location, we can choose to make the best of it. If we need to change anything, we are free to do so. If the activity we perform drives us crazy – what is really stopping us from making a change?

As always, I’m listening to your comments and questions!

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