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Fulcrum of Choice

I’ve written about choosing and choice and joy before. Heck, I’ve even written about choosing joy

Over the past two years, that choice was challenging. In fact, there were times many when we all forgot it was a choice at all. I recently ran into a fantastic quote that helped me:

Joy is not a function of a life free of friction and frustration, but a function of focus — an inner elevation by the fulcrum of choice.

Maria Popova

It’s a beautiful reminder and one I wanted to share with you. (It’s also a great way to remind myself.)

You can read the full piece from which I pulled the above quote here. I’ve often been nourished by Maria’s work. She’s one of a kind.

Weequahic, we’ve got a lot to celebrate, a lot for which we can and should be grateful.

In order to get ready for an amazing summer, let’s start by recognizing all of the little things which bring us joy around us. Practicing the celebrations of micro-joys will build a habit that leads to more joy, more engagement and more life. 

Recognizing the bad, the unfair, the difficult is easy. Take the harder path and recognize the joy despite everything else. The work will be worth it. 

Have a great weekend!

The Choice

Do you want to be happy or upset? Choose to have a bunch of friends or be alone? Live in an organized or scattered fashion?

I rarely take the time to really think about those choices. A quote from a much smarter writer spurred me to think about them more thoughtfully.

Look at the above sentences themselves. All are questions needing an answer. The answers can only come from within the person listening to the questions themselves. They are all choices. How you live answers have a lot of (good and/or challenging) consequences. Effort is required on either side of the choice you make.

It may seem easier to live as though everything is planned out already. This is an old way of thinking and one, frankly, that doesn’t work for me. It feels too much like a cop out. “I gained weight because I’m meant to gain it. The sleeve of cookies I eat each daily and my lack of exercise have nothing to do with it.” Nah….

I’m a big believer in ‘free will’ – you get to choose. If that is the case, then the ‘choose’ part is hugely important. In fact, the older I get, the more I believe it’s one of the most important things for us humans.

The Good News

Carols Castaneda, writer of 16 books including The Lessons of Don Juan, shares some good news on this point:

“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

This goes hand-in-hand with one of my top five quotes of all-time:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

Weequahic, we have a choice. Every day, every moment, every breath – we get to choose how to react. It’s simple to live this way… but it’s not easy. The closer we get, though, to putting these ideas into daily practice, the more likely are our best-selves to shine through.

So go make yours.


A group of dads and 8th grade boys and I were talking a bit last week. We were focusing on how to protect against the challenges that culture throws at us… and the challenges we throw at ourselves. 

One young guy asked a question about the seven ‘deadly’ sins. It was a phrase I’d not heard in a while so we looked them up: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

These were first discussed in the 6th century. The idea was to name the ‘foundational’ challenges (or sins) that lead us humans to other challenges. If we knew what the bad things were, the thought went, we could defend against them.

All are pretty self-explanatory. Thinking of yourself too much (pride), being jealous of others (envy), getting really, really angry (wrath), having that 4th… or 7th cookie (gluttony),etc. But, being the overbearing camp director that I am, we started going through each one. 

About three quarters of the way through, another young man looked up and said, “It seems like most of these could be categorized as ‘wanting.’ I want too much food, too much entertainment, too much money.”

It was a great insight by an 8th grade guy. But what came next was even better. 

The Antidote

One of the other dads in the group looked around, smiled and asked, ‘If most of these problems start with wanting too much, what’s the antidote? How do you stop it from getting going?”’ 

Without batting an eye, the young man responded, “Probably being grateful for what you have.” 


This principle applies as much to an 8th grader as it does to a business tycoon as it does to a writer. In fact, I recently heard a story that brought this idea home. 

Kurt Vonegurt wrote about an experience he and fellow writer Joseph Heller had together. While at some big party in a fancy house, Vonegurt looked at Heller and said, “Joe, how does it feel knowing that our host made more money yesterday than your book, Catch 22, made in its history?” 

To quote the rest: 

And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”

And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”


That’s a hard thing to do in this day and age. It’s soooo easy to find examples of what you don’t have – more things, more recognition, more free time. Culture is set up around us to egg that ‘wanting’ onward. 

And, frankly, some of that wanting is a good thing. You want to better yourself and the circumstances of those around you. You want justice for those not receiving it. You want and work towards understanding. 

For many of us, there comes a moment when you simply forget to be grateful for that and those which are in your life because you are so focused on wanting ‘more’… whatever that ‘more’ is. That marks the point of diminishing returns, the downward slide. 

At some point, there has to be enough. Because striving towards things that don’t fill you up in a way that makes you and your loved ones better will start to do damage to you and your loved ones eventually. Mr. Heller knew this. The young man around the table knows it as well.

What is Enough?

Now, ‘enough’ will seem to be different for you at different times. What is enough in middle school is different than in college or when you are a parent. The funny thing is that it is really not that different at all. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, President John Adams said it best:

The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.

Works for me and probably will for you, too. Have a great weekend. 

(Full disclosure: I was battling ‘pride’ myself around that table. The young man who had the insight and answer above is a Weequahic guy through and through.)