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It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J.K. Rowling

Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we choose to be. Graham Brown

A 75 year Harvard study tracked 724 men through their adult lives to determine what contributes most to a happy and healthy life. The conclusion was clear, good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

People living in supportive and loving relationships live longer and are more content than those in high-conflict relationships even when these are monogamous or long term. Those in supportive, reciprocal relationships are better able to handle emotional and physical pain.

People in supportive relationships experience less memory loss. When people feel they can count on their partners through life’s ups and downs, even if they argue, have clearer memories as they get older. Good relationships seem to buffer us from some of the effects of aging.

We should take time for those we love, reach out to those who have drifted from us, and realize that family feuds take a terrible toll on those who hold grudges. Can we quit holding grudges, can we forgive for our own sake?

In a recent survey of millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) 80% wanted to get rich, and 50% wanted to become famous. Neither of those goals means they don’t also want close loving relationships.

They want what we wanted and because many of us didn’t get it we begrudge them their dreams. After all, what does realizing our dream mean? Often it means “oh, is this all there is,” as we now look over at a higher mountain we didn’t choose to climb.

We make our choices, then our choices make us. Unknown

Make your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. Nelson Mandela

If we went for success in one area what other areas of success did we give up? I notice this with successful women I know. They are single, their jobs sound prestigious, and their resumes are impressive.

How many of us if we were asked if we could do a do-over, would make exactly the same choices. Would we marry as early, as late or at all? Would we have more or less education? Would we have gone more or fewer places in the world? Would we still choose the same person to raise our family with? Would we have more or fewer children? Would we have steered our children in the same directions? Would we make the same things the primary focus of our lives?

Why are we so critical of a group who has all of that ahead of them? Don’t we remember what it was like to have our decisions second and third guessed? Millennials will not make all the right decisions, we didn’t. They will second-guess themselves, they will learn and grow as we have. They will put aside their dreams for their family in some cases and put aside family for their dreams. They too will look back on their life and think, what if?

This is the human condition, we insisted on the right to make our mistakes, decisions, choices, and now it is time to make theirs. What if there is no correct path for us or our children? Are there lessons regardless of the path taken? What if we learn more from the mistakes we make than our successes? What if not wanting our children to make mistakes is hampering their growth? Are we hampering them from their call to adventure by telling them it’s too hard, expensive, exploitive, etc out there?

We have so few children it is hard to let them go. Our parents had so many that when the oldest set out on their own path a younger one was there to ready for adulthood. We aren’t done parenting when our one or two children are ready to flee the nest. We encourage them to stay. Is it necessarily good or bad if they stay?

When I grew up there were people who left home early and some who stayed at home longer. Did it matter in the long run? It probably won’t matter for the millennials either. We each have to find our path. We make our choices where our path forks, and when we make one choice we leave another behind. Was it necessarily a better or worse choice left behind or just a different one? We have to be okay making choices and watching our children make theirs. Not making a choice leaves us at the fork, stuck. When we don’t actively make a choice it is still a choice. What we think, say, and do is a choice. Can we think, say and do better and let others make their own choices?

The 3C’s of life: Choices, chances, changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change. Unknown

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. Denis Waitley

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Making Choices: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions Paperback – Feb 1 1990