didn’t Dumbledore say something pithy about choices once?

It is a conscious and mindful practice to live, content, with the choices you make. 

Thus spoke my yoga teacher this morning. I’ve taken her class on and off when I’m in Vegas and she is one of the rare yoga teachers whose opening monologues or class themes I take seriously. I have a low tolerance for new-agey bullshit–I don’t generally believe that the divine light within my yoga teacher honors the divine light within me–especially at yoga classes where you can tell that the teacher is just parroting the same crap her instructors feed her. But this teacher is one of a few who put original thought and even research behind her words. She spoke to us today about recent research that has revealed connections among decision-making and the production of various happy-making chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, other things I don’t remember from Intro Psych in 2007), offering a possible explanation for why we never feel satisfied with the choices that we make.

I made a lot of grand and dramatic choices this year, as I do, with little thought behind them. These choices have led me to grand and dramatic places and experiences, but I’ve been disinclined to live contently with them because I am constantly distracted by what else could be. I tend to act on instinct and to make rash decisions based either on what seems most attractive at the time or what will make the best story. It’s kind of a hedonistic, careless way to live and is contrary to my disablingly hesitant nature.

But I believe that had I thought any more critically about the decisions I made this year, I would have traveled down worn, dull paths that brought me no heightened emotion. Living on instinct, aside from the fact that I would probably be an excellent hunter-gatherer if called upon, is a great way to upset expectations and follow a path other than the one that society or your mom or Hollywood or whatever has set out for you. While I probably would have ended up being a professional nerd no matter what path I followed, I have a pocketful of untraditional experiences that set me apart from the rest of the nerds. I love being different and memorable and I’ve achieved this by just doing what seems fun or interesting rather than what other people have done before me. You know how little kids wanted to be a firefighter fairy princess ballerina mailman? I mean, I’m a proposal writer ballerina blogger a cappella singer actress haiku enthusiast. I’m every nerdy yet strangely agile and rhythmic little girl’s dream, entirely because it seemed like it would be fun to take a ballet class and audition for the musical and apply for that long-shot job that my sister’s husband thought I might be good at. There was no indication that any of those paths made sense for me, but I thought they’d be interesting to wander down regardless. 

Nevertheless, I wonder. It’s natural, if I believe what my yoga teacher told us this morning, to consider the alternatives: to wonder if I’d be happier if I lived in a different city or if it would have been more sensible to ignore my feelings for that boy or if I should have found an apartment that allowed cats or if I should have eaten less bacon at breakfast (NEVER) or if–and it continues, in an endless loop of dissatisfaction with my charmed and interesting life caused by the distraction of possibilities.

Perhaps this should be my New Year’s resolution this year: to either live, content, with the choice I have made, or to make a new choice that supersedes the previous one. It seems wasteful, given that I’m pretty sure we’re going to get nuked at some point in the next few years, to spend as much time as I do wallowing in a pile of “what ifs.”

Or perhaps my resolution should be to convince the yoga teachers of the world to stop babbling about divine light and either say something interesting or just STFU and let me savasana a little while longer.

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