In the wake of tragedy, I often find myself reflecting on the way seemingly trivial choices can have far-reaching effects. On an average day, we make about 35,000 choices – which street to take to work, which flight to book, which errand to squeeze into the lunch hour. Choice is what makes us human.

We analyze many of our choices as questions of “should.” We ask ourselves these questions, even though we can never really know the outcome.

Should I take the earlier flight?

Should I take the extra minute to put laundry into the washing machine before leaving the house?

Should I honk at that person who cut me off?

Should I respond to that email or delete it?  

We try so hard to anticipate the outcomes of our choices. Yet, despite our best efforts, there is so much we can’t control. 

Sometimes, small choices are life-saving. Other times, seemingly insignificant decisions lead to tragedy. The difference our choices make can be profound. 

So, what can we do, when so much is beyond our control?

We do our best.

We take the information we have, weigh our options and try to make the best choice, at the time, with the information we have.

And – perhaps the harder thing to do – we work on accepting the reality of uncertainty, acknowledging there are some things we simply can’t control. And that’s okay. 

Here’s to doing our best with the choices in front of us today.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.