Blog Post : Bechira / Choice Points, by Madeline Dolgin

Bechira / Choice Points, by Madeline Dolgin | Anonymous (not verified) | Jul 9, 2014

This post is authored by Madeline Dolgin, an alumna of the Bronfman Center's Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF), who is blogging over at about her continued mindfulness practices after her JLF experience.

This week's lesson offers a refreshing perspective on the self. It suggests that we can have some control in our destiny if we become more aware of our natural tendencies. Natural tendencies being those such as: the way we respond in situations, whether we are more of a talker or listener, things that drive us nuts, our limitations, etc. By understanding more about who we are, we can become better at making choices that we know will lead to happiness and peace of mind. So this week, we focused on being more mindful of the choices we make for an hour each day. 

Here is a list of advice compiled after reflection from our choices this week…

        1. Be honest with yourself and others about what you want 
        2. Be aware of your reasons for wanting a certain choice: maybe there is a compromise           
        3. Limit the possibilities (and added aggravation) by sticking with your gut
        4. Recognize when you fall into a natural tendency because it's easier or more familiar ex: don't give in to laziness
        5. Stick to plans; this will avoid debate over too many possibilities and later regret for your choice

I chose to be more thoughtful of the choices I make in the first hour after I wake up. My results…. I feel more at ease and less guilt if I start my day with exercise. Last semester and many times this summer, I wasted time planning when to exercise or thinking of a way to fit it in. I was giving in to my natural laziness, justifying it by saying I needed the time for tasks of more importance. Now I am aware of my natural tendency to avoid exercise and how that leads to stress and negative feelings of guilt. Even if it's just squeezing in a 20-minute youtube workout, I avoid unnecessary planning time and self-criticism :)

My mom shared a mindful experience while at her manicurist. She recognized her natural tendency to talk about herself more than she listened. She consciously chose to ask more questions and listen more. Her results… "I learned that it felt just as good if not better listening to her as spieling about myself! In my boundaries exercise for next week I want to make a goal to decrease my talking space and increase my listening space."

Here's a great method to assess your natural tendencies.

    My natural tendency is to __________.
    Following this path leads to __________.
    What can I do differently? ___________.
    How does this new choice make me feel? __________.

Mom's example:

     My natural tendency is to [talk a lot]
     Following this path leads to [negative feelings of self-loathing and doubt]
     What can I do differently? [choose to listen more, ask questions to others, listen instead of thinking about the next thing I'll say]
     How does this new choice make me feel? [a better and more valuable friend, more genuine]

My example:

     My natural tendency is to [avoid exercise].
     Following this path leads to [feelings of guilt, wasted time planning, added stress]
     What can I do differently? [choose to start my day with exercise- commit to it]
     My results [feelings of accomplishment and less guilt, I can move on with my day]