Reading the title, you might imagine me holding a skull in my hand while reciting this memorable quote from Shakespeare.
When I read Hamlet for the first time, I thought these words were a part of Hamlet’s tragedy. In fact, they were a good opening sentence for a mind inquiry. Today, however, they have a very different meaning for me.
Our choices shape our lives. In other words, they shape us.
Hamlet seems only to consider two possible choices within his circumstances. Which path should he follow: the path of life or the path of death? It is a choice between hopelessly living a life of pain or blindly exacting revenge. When the situation is as severe and tragic as his is, we inevitably realize the importance of our choices.
For a moment, think about all the choices that shape our lives. Are they always this grandiose?
Every morning, we awake to a new day full of potential. Routine daily decisions are the first things to pass through our minds: “What should I wear? I‘m hungry; what should I eat? I’m running late for work; I wonder which route I should take?” These are result-oriented decisions, or we could think of them as mechanical choices if you prefer. Actually, we all make these decisions without even really thinking, or we briefly collect some more data to reach the best decision.
All these tiny decisions determine how we spend the day, and all our days together determine how we spend our lives…
Right now, when you choose between tea or coffee or pick a route to work, do you really understand where a tiny decision can take you? Later, when you yell at an impertinent man, thinking he’s spoiled your cheerful mood, do you see who you have become?
Do you? Good. Let’s rewind a little, stop the automatic action, and ask ourselves why we made that decision?
You may say, “I wanted to drink tea, because I think it is healthier.” This may have a deeper meaning of wanting to be healthier. Similarly, when you say, “I want to wear my best suit for the meeting, because I think it will give a good impression,” it may be really declaring, “I want to attract attention.” When you say, “I may spend hours in traffic every day, but I like my suburban home with its garden,” you may really mean, “I want inner peace…”
Who of us wakes every day with the desire to say, “Today, I want to be a self-confident, wise, and successful person,” ”Today, I want to be playful, peaceful, and joyous,” or “Today, I want to be entrepreneurial, practical and brave”?
When you start the day with these personality wishes, you begin making your choices accordingly. As you choose between A and B, you begin to ask yourself, “What would be the choice of the wise person I desire to be? What would the entrepreneurial me choose?”
When you decide who you want to be, all your options become clearer. You do not then need to agonize over the question of which dress will make you look beautiful. Instead, you will decide which dress that you, the beautiful one, will wear.
Let us together climb the steps toward “to be” in Hamlet’s question…
The first step is taken with a reexamination of self-identity: “Who am I? What do I want?”
Those who do not know themselves have no base for their desires and decisions. Ask those who are thrown into the air by even the gentlest wind or who are always complaining about their circumstances, “Who are you really?” See if they can describe themselves without hesitation.
The second step confirms the belief that the I, who has discovered the self, can reach the desires.
There is a huge difference between being someone who wishes and someone who achieves those wishes. Some people remain stuck at the level of wishing and wanting, and there is always an obstacle for them, with all the external factors acting against them, so the wish never comes true. If you wish for a far-away dream, you will remain one who only wishes.
The third step puts the choices into service: yes or no.
Each no answer clarifies self-identity, while each yes answer magnetizes the potentials. Playing a yes game will increase both your energy and your enjoyment of life. It declares that you are ready to receive. Each yes answer connects you to the world of miracles with laughter. However, one should remember there could be a better answer: Sometimes saying “no” defines the curves and lines of your identity and reflects who you are to yourself and others.
The forth step reveals our self-value by saying, “I am worth this…”
Beyond the choices of the women in the cosmetics commercials—by the way, wouldn’t it be good if we could say it as often and as confidently as they do—saying, “I am worth this” and having a consummation of declaration that makes you smile at heart demonstrates that you are on the right path.
The fifth step is absolutely a state of mind.
It is the choice of who you want to be. It is the power of visualizing at the wanting stage and feeling content, as if you have already achieved your desires. Here, the “feeling” is especially important, because a vision without feeling is merely a dream in the mind’s eye. To understand this, imagine yourself in an art exhibition. When you gaze upon the artwork with a wandering eye, you can be sure you will not remember much later and there will be no lasting effect. But, if one of the pieces excites you and captures your attention, it triggers feelings within you. You will remember that piece for years to come or even for life, and it will still trigger the same feelings in you.
“To be, or not to be, that is the question…” Hamlet said it, and we followed.
If this is the question, do something good for yourself and take a while to think:
Who are you? Who do you want to be?