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8 Choices We Get to Make


Looking within us: freedom to choose.


In my high school classes, students often said things like, “Do we have to take notes on this?” “Do we have to know this for the test?” “Do we have to read the whole book?”


My answer always was: “No, you get to. You don’t have to do anything in life, but you get to do a lot of things.” True, it wasn’t our choice to be born into the world. And it’s not our choice that someday we’re going to die. But the period in between—life—presents us with countless choices. They determine the quality of our lives.


  1. We are free to choose our values. We can let the media tell us what is important, or we can decide for ourselves. We can base our standards on what others are doing, or we can base them on what we know is right and good.

  2. We are free to choose how to treat other people. We can put them down, or we can lift them up. We can be self-centered and inconsiderate, or we can be respectful, kind, and helpful to those in need.

  3. We are free to choose how to handle adversity. We can allow ourselves to be crushed, to give up, and to feel sorry for ourselves. Or we can choose to look for a source of strength, to persevere, and to make the most out of what life hands us.

  4. We are free to choose how much we will learn. We can look upon learning as an unpleasant chore or as a great opportunity for bettering ourselves.

  5. We are free to choose our own direction and goals.

  6. We are free to choose our belief system. We can ignore our spiritual nature, or we can embrace it as a basic dimension of our lives. We can worship pleasure and material things, or we can look for something that’s ultimately more important.

  7. We are free to choose our attitude, regardless of circumstances.

  8. We are free to choose our character—the kind of person we become. We can become less than we are capable of, or we can become all that we are capable of.

Dr. Hal Urban is an award-winning teacher and the author of several best-selling books. “The Choices We Get To Make” is from Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter, available from

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