Life’s What You Make It

Most things in life come down to a choice: the choice to focus on the positive or the negative; the choice to go after something you really want or to sit back and let someone else have a go; the choice to try out new experiences or to remain in your comfort zone; the choice to stay in a damaging place or to get out and start afresh.

It’s also possible to choose to see life as a series of choices, not a hand of cards that you are powerless to change. And if you do, there is nothing sitting beyond your reach. This may sound simplistic but I truly believe that it’s the only mind-set to have for living a fulfilling life.

Back in the dark days (when I drank most evenings and hated myself), I had no idea that life could be based on choices. Even down to the most basic of choices – deciding which thoughts I paid attention to and which I let go of – I was under the impression that I was a sitting duck: that whatever terrible episode may land on my doorstep, whichever bit of bad luck might descend upon my world, or however lonely and unloved I felt, I had no control over any of it whatsoever. It felt as though it was all just ‘my lot’.

There are many snippets of wisdom that we pick up during our time on earth but I think that grasping the idea of having choices and living life accordingly can make one of the biggest differences in how happy we are.

I decided that for me to be content and fulfilled, it was necessary for me to not drink alcohol. This was a choice. I could have followed the school of thought that says addiction can’t be beaten, that I am powerless over alcohol, that I had no choice. But I believed in the notion of choice, and I made that choice and stuck to it.

Yesterday I found myself suddenly overcome by negativity. Everything was wrong; I started to flounder in a pit of despair. But then I went for a walk in the nearby woods that are brimming with bright, autumnal colours and I took a few photos of the trees, noticed the beautiful blue sky, and breathed in the cold, fresh air, felt alive, watched my dog trotting amongst the fallen leaves and became aware of how even this mood that had engulfed me moments earlier was, in fact, a choice.

I started to think about all the things in my life that I am grateful for, all the beauty of the earth, the simple pleasures that make it all worthwhile. I stood in front of a tree for a while and observed the way in which the leaves, now littering the ground at the foot of the trunk, appeared as a reflection of the canopy above. It occurred to me that this could all be perceived as the dismal end of summer, a tree moving into a state of hibernation for the winter, or a stunning image of vibrancy, a captivating celebration of change; the beginning of a miraculous new season. I stared at the tree for a long time, and it became a symbol to me of how life is whatever we want to perceive it as.


Earlier in the week, I had thrown a small Halloween party for my four-year-old and a few of her little friends. The carpet was covered in crisps, toys were strewn all over the lounge, and the kitchen looked like a bomb site. After everyone had left and I’d scrubbed my daughter’s face clean, wiping away every last trace of the ghoulish make-up she’d been wearing, my older daughter shouted down the stairs to me; “Can you help me with that English coursework now please?”

I had a choice in how I perceived all of this; to see the stress, the mess, the chaos, and to focus on my tiredness and how all I wanted to do was go and lie down on my bed. Or I could have chosen to see it as the lovely, hectic, full-on express train journey that is life, with all its demands and busyness.

I took the decision to view it as the latter.


12 thoughts on “Life’s What You Make It

  1. I enjoy the clarity of your writing. “choice”, “decision”, I had the word ascend pop into my head, on today, my day three. I had a friend ask me this morning on the phone, “what made you decide to do this?”, I was taken off-guard a wee bit, I blurted out ,” That’s my story right now, so there it is.”
    The conversation ended pleasantly, however, I did ponder, ” Why am I doing this?”, another word popped into my head………clarity.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, clarity is one of the main reasons I love not drinking. I’m coming up to 6 years sober and I don’t ever wish I could drink, mainly due to loving my clear head and untainted perception of the world. Life is too short to muddle the view with booze, in my opinion! Thanks again, Lucy x

  2. Wow. I love how you flipped your perception on the world. It reminded me of a lot of that Thoreau stuff I like. You’re able to see the gifts of change in the seasons, kind of like you’re appreciating the changes in yourself. What a beautiful post, thank you for this.

    • Thank you for your comment, I am really happy you liked my post. I think I have had a proclivity for depression throughout my life but have found that forcing positive thinking helps enormously. And I do love this time of year :-). Lucy x

  3. Thank you for this. I believe that once we make the choice to be sober then a whole of other choices open up to us. The trouble with alcohol is that for some of us that is the only option we pick, over and over again.

  4. paula michel says:

    Brilliant Blog and I think we do have the choice once we are out of the alcohol induced fug of stinking thinking. We can do or die. And once we start to make consistently positive choices the world opens up so much more. I love that you’re 6 years sober and going from strength to strength X x

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