And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost


On Questions

Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own….
I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

The third major foundational building block for this first module centres around the need to take responsibility for one’s choices. Everything we do is a choice, and yet so many participants in my programmes tell me that they ‘had no choice’ in what they did in a particular situation.

I believe that we always have a choice; sometimes we may choose to make an unpleasant choice, but that is because we are not yet ready to face the consequences of a different choice.

Caroline Myss tackles this crucial issue of choice with an emphasis on how one’s choices impact on one’s own health as well as that of others.

Caroline lists five crucial choices:

  • To live a life of integrity
  • To pass on wisdom, not woe
  • To take risks
  • To choose new words
  • To choose gratitude.

Threshold choices

How do you arrive home from work? Do you choose to be present with your loved ones, or are you still mainly thinking about work?

Varela explains that we all inhabit many different micro-worlds. We construct a different micro-identity for each of these micro-worlds that inevitably foregrounds an appropriate way of showing up. The trouble comes when we swap micro-worlds without making the appropriate change in micro-identity. Bringing one’s work micro-identity home to one’s partner or family is bound to have jarring consequences!

A practice that I have found helpful in facilitating a smoother transition between the micro-worlds of work and home is the use of a token (maybe a stone?) as a reminder to myself to STOP and pay attention to the transition.

This is how it works: on leaving home for work, you take the stone out of your bag or car cubbyhole, put it in your pocket and start imagining yourself at work. At the end of the day, you start your journey home with the stone still in your pocket. When you’re nearly home, you interrupt your journey to make any last forgotten phone calls and let go of your workday. You then imagine arriving at home filled with love and appreciation for the people who live with you. When you’re ready to make the transition from your work micro-world to your home micro-world, you put the stone back in the cubbyhole or bag and finish your journey home.

Does this sound like something you might try?



  1. What choices do you make with regard to your cell phone? Do you turn it off so that you have quality time with your family, or does it stay on all the time?

Some participants are shocked to discover the extent of their addiction to their cell phones and horrified when they take an honest look at the tortuous arguments they create to justify this behaviour. They report that massive improvements take place in their relationships when they create cell-free spaces at home.

  1. Say you had ten good things happen to you during the day and two bad experiences. Which ones do you choose to share with your partner?

Most participants in my class admit to sharing the bad stuff. How excited their partners must be to welcome them home and get the day’s dose of reported misery!

George Bernard Shaw makes a beautiful comment about this choice of attitude:

This is the true joy of life […]; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…

Father David Steindl-Rast is the inspiration behind the website Welcome to Grateful Living , which aims to help us bring resilience and joy to our lives by focusing on gratefulness. Father David narrates the film shown in this TED talk.

Intelligence takes place in our actions and not in our thoughts. Which new action choices could you take that would make a significant difference in your life?