I am slowly reading a book called The Pathfinder by Nicholas Lore; as the title suggests, this book provides a way of thinking about finding one’s path in life. I was reading the chapter on “the seven key elements” of choosing a path yesterday when I stumbled upon a way of thinking about the realm of possibility that I hadn’t really thought of before.
He writes, “There is a difference between options and possibilities. Everyone has options. Your options consist of a fixed set of predetermined scenarios, points of view, perceived limitations that already reside in your data bank. They are the different things you could do and remain in the same box you live in now. When you ask, ‘What are my options?’ you are really asking ‘What is the contents of my box?’…If you depend on your options to formulate your future, that future will be no more than a rearrangement of your past.
“Possibilities are completely different. When you ask, ‘What is possible?’ you must stretch your imagination out of the confines of the familiar. You have to stretch your wings, get out of the box, and look around.” (p. 194)
I definitely connected with these two paragraphs. I have often led my life thinking about my options rather than my possibilities – starting with the most basic things in life.
Here’s a part of my routine: When I am about ready to eat lunch, I open the fridge, stare at its contents, and assess my options. This is really quite pointless since I wind up eating one of four or five basic meals almost every day. I base my lunch choice on what I already know.
I actually think to myself, ‘What’s there to eat?’ I then scan blankly and will probably think cheese even though I’m not even looking at cheese. Then I’ll pull a few pieces of bread and some cooking spray from the pantry – and, well, that’s a grilled cheese. I eat those at least three or four times a week. I’ll scan some more - tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and celery. I’ll then pull out the olive oil and a lemon – and well gosh darn it, that’s a salad.
That's how I approach lunch pretty much every day of the week. Simple variations may include tomato soup, peanut butter sandwich, and sometimes even a turkey sandwich or eggs. I’ll pack those meals up on days that I eat in the office. I never really thought of this before, but it’s kind of boring, don’t you think?
It’s my comfort zone. It’s what I know. And I rarely stretch beyond it.
How many of us look at the fridge and think in terms of possibilities? Forgetting what we’ve eaten time and time before, letting go of meal routines and patterns. How many of us open the fridge and say, ‘What’s possible for lunch today?’ I don’t think I’ve ever done that!
I bet I can take this example and apply it to many scenarios in life. Can you?
And then there’s the realm of possibility. I really love to travel, and Lior and I often go on road trips. Now that I think about it, I have noticed that every time we’re already on the highway on our way to our chosen and planned destination, I will sometimes think, ‘What would happen if I just drove somewhere else? If I didn’t stick to the planned route? What would I discover?’
I have gone off the beaten path many times during travel, and you know what - it always turns out to be a wonderful, fun, and enriching experience. It stretches my way of thinking outside of the predictable, planned, comfort zone in a healthy way.
You may say, ‘Ophir, you’re traveling. But come on, how can you do that during day to day life?’ I do kind of expect to go off the beaten path on a road trip and discover new things, but I bet we can extend this to the mundane as well.
This week, I plan to ask myself ‘What is possible?’ instead of sticking to the same, old routine based on the options that are in my comfort box. Let me know if you will, too. I’d love to hear about it! Who knows what we’ll discover?