Life is like a buffet, full of choices

Life is like a buffet, full of great choices

Many years ago I came up with an analogy to support my teaching a goals directed lifestyle as a key to success and fulfilled living. In that analogy I compared life with a cruise ship experience, something I really have never done (well, except for a 24 hour “cruise to nowhere” – but that’s a story for another time…). When we think of a cruise vacation, one of the biggest treats people talk about is the huge buffet of food that those cruise lines put out 24hours a day on the cruise – mountains of food, many, many varieties of food, all free for the taking (well, its not really “free” in that you did pay for it in the ticket price), but you get the picture. I then took that concept and applied it to life in general. And in that connection, what would our limiting factor be, I would ask an audience. The answer I was looking for was “the plate” – the size of the plate you picked up to put your selection of foods on was your limiting factor, and in doing that you were forced to make some choices given all that variety of foods to choose from. In life, that “plate” corresponds to a “day” in our life – twenty four hours of a gifted of time we call “a day” to live and choose from the buffet of life offered us “free.”

So, how do you choose what to take from the mountain of food? What do you pick and how much do you put on that plate? In translating that to our lives, what would YOU answer to that?

In my presentation, I offer my answer to that by pointing out that we can’t take in the whole buffet (i.e., all the opportunities that each day holds out for us) given that plate size (just 24 hours), so we do have to choose, but most importantly, we first have to recognize, first, that our day (our life) is filled with opportunities (i.e., if we don’t see them, we obviously can’t choose from them), and, secondly, that we do have a choice.  Too many people live their lives feeling they have no choices, reacting to everything that “just happens” to them.  My philosophy of life is that while we may not control what happens to us, we definitely can control how we react to what happens, and in that choice makes ll the difference in the world.  With choice I feel “in control” – without choice, I’m just a victim.  Think of such extremes as the Nazi concentration camps where we saw examples of people in the worst of circumstances still “in control” with such lives and writings as one Holocaust survivor’s example, those of Viktor Frankl.

Once we realize we have choices, then the problem arises.  How do we make that choice?

That is my lead-in to the topic of our values and goals in life, something too few ever stop in their busy lives to take the time to reflect upon, and even more importantly, to write down.  Once we have them identified, there is something to reference in making those decisions about taking from the “buffet” of daily life, some way to choose one opportunity over another, the shrimp scampi vs. the “I can have it anytime at home” spaghetti, the flaming cherries jubilee over French Vanilla ice cream vs. the simple slice of pound cake.  By being able to prioritize things in our daily lives and discipline ourselves to focus on the highest priority ones first, while we may not be able to do everything, at least we will accomplish the most important things, or at least those which are most important to us based on that understanding of our values/goals.

I love the way one of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, writes in his book: What on Earth Have I Done? with these words:

“Daily I feel I’m invited to the buffet of the world – a feast offered to the appetite of the imagination.
The invitation says, ‘Help yourself.’
And so I have.
My best inclination says, ‘Share.’
And so I do.”