Contributing Author: Mary Ashley, NDAA Well-being Task Force Vice Chair

Photo credit: Taryn Elliott/Pexels

ife is hard. That’s just the truth of the matter. The real beauty is that we get to choose. Choose which “hard” we want to live with every day.

Marriage is hard.
Divorce is hard.
Choose your hard.

Obesity is hard.
Fit is hard.
Choose your hard.

Being in debt is hard.
Being financially disciplined is hard.
Choose your hard.

Communication is hard.
Not communicating is hard.
Choose your hard.

Life will never be easy.
It will always be hard.
But we can choose our hard.
Choose Wisely.

*The MindJournal
Author is Unknown

When I first came across this concept, I admit I was intrigued. And then a bit discouraged, wondering, does everything have to be so hard?

In MoveMe Quotes & More, author Matt Hogan writes about this very concept and explores beyond the quote as to how an “easy” life is usually only temporary and the idea that tackling what is hard now is much easier than hard later.

Tom Ferry also discusses the difficulties of daily hard choices, , along with Erin Schaden, at nakedrandomthoughts.com, who talks about things in life that are hard, such as sobriety, drunkenness, being alone, loving, hating, staying, leaving — it’s all hard. Then, instead of thinking that life in general is hard, I pivoted to thinking more about the choices that we often have to make that are hard and not so much life itself. Or is it the result of other people’s choices that cause some of our difficulties?

Photo credit: Jacob Colvin/Pexels

There are very few instances in life when we have no choice. Sometimes neither option seems appealing, but we have a choice, nonetheless. What must we do?

I had an uncle who has long since passed away who used to say, “Welcome to the world of no choice,” when he didn’t like the options. And yet, there were still choices. While we cannot control the choices of others, which affect us, we can choose how to react to those actions.

Even when we feel trapped in a “routine” or robotic state of existence, we choose little things along the way. Which matters more, the million little choices along the way or the handful of “big” decisions? It’s likely both, but I tend to go with the little things along the way having more impact on the day to day. For example, deciding to take the walk instead of watching TV. Or selecting something healthy to eat instead of ordering junk food. Scheduling those annual doctor appointments and well-checks instead of putting them off for another year. Or how about choosing to be honest with someone, risking hurting their feelings or not agreeing, as opposed to lying to spare the pain or the discomfort for both? It can be hard to have a critical but necessary conversation with someone. It can be even harder to not have the conversation and suffer in silence for many years, even though in the moment that can feel easier. But you do get to choose.

There are times we simply do not get a choice, and that is the hardest of all. Covid 19 gave many people little choice. Closing a business. Losing a job. Becoming ill. The death of a loved one. No one chooses those things. The only thing after such “hards” for those fortunate enough to be alive is using our resiliency to bend in the wind, but not break. And that does involve choice.

As a prosecutor, I’ve made many choices over the years that affected the lives of others. Whether you file a case, what types of charges you select, plea bargains or jury trials, you are responsible for those who truly had no choice when they became a victim. Some of those victims did not survive. Many did but chose different ways to deal with their victimization. The “hard” of making choices is truly a balancing act of immediate results, long term consequences and ultimate outcomes for ourselves and others. Choosing wisely for yourself will ultimately help in how you, when tasked with doing so, choose for others. And sometimes the “hard” we pick isn’t the best way to go, but we keep moving forward. That’s the lesson and the beauty in the choice. We can try to right a wrong, make amends or simply learn from the past and make better choices. Life doesn’t have to be as “hard” as we make it out to be sometimes, even when it seems like we are living in a “world of no choice.”

Choose your hard.

Pictured: Mary Ashley

Well-being Task Force Vice Chair, Mary Ashley, is a Deputy District Attorney with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Along with being a Board member of NDAA, Mary is also a member of the California District Attorneys Association and NDAA’s Vice Chair Women Prosecutors Section.

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) is the oldest and largest national organization representing state and local prosecutors in the country.

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