Life is a Series of Choices (Fortune Cookies)

Fortune cookies are true…so I now believe. Two days before my Friday December 2008 wedding, my wife ate at a Chinese restaurant, where she received a fortune cookie that read: “A lifetime of happiness lies ahead of you.” The next day, on Thursday, she went out for Chinese again and her fortune cookie read: “The coming Friday will be an exciting time for you.” Was this a coincidence or was a specific message brought by the Universe to my lovely bride-to-be?

The fortune cookie story doesn’t end here. Last night I shared my career ambitions, goals, and dreams for my life with my wife. I explained why I believe I have been blessed with a wife and son who I adore, a wonderful family, great friends, and a successful career. I explained to Korrel that I have achieved such riches because of my growing capacity to love, commitment to personal growth, dedication to my career, belief in my dreams, and most importantly, my ability to make the right choices at the right time. An hour after that discussion, at a Chinese restaurant, my fortune cookie read, “Life is a series of choices, today yours are good ones.” I knew then, I had to write something.

I believe a successful life comes from the right choices at the right time, as well as the willingness to pursue the goals inherent in these choices. Robert Frost nailed the “choices” challenge in his poem The Road Less Traveled. In this poem, he saw the value of ending up at a “crossroads” in life.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could”

At this crossroad, we face two distinctly different paths, which have two equally distinct different outcomes. Perhaps, at this crossroad, we are brought to the biggest choice of our life: in which direction do we proceed? Do we take the path that is more familiar to us, the one that we can navigate in the dark-with our eyes closed; or do we take the path that is unknown, frightening, and strewn with obstacles and unpredictable outcomes.

The familiar path offers predictability and safety, but only a limited version of “success.” However, the “road less traveled” is risky in nature, but has the possibility of ultimately changing your life. When you travel down the road less traveled, there is no turning back; life is forever changed and you can never return to the old life of safety and predictability. This risky path is where choices manifest into dreams, and dreams manifest into reality.

“Two roads diverged in a wood,

and I took the one less traveled by.

And that has made all the difference.”

Paul Coelho, the author of “The Alchemist,” believes that we all have the ability to achieve our “personal legend,” which is the best possible version of ourselves: the person of our dreams. Mr. Coelho believes by pursuing your personal legend you have then chosen “the path God has chosen for you here on Earth.” It is a path toward the life you believe in, goals that you have chosen, and dreams that you know belong to you. Through difficult choices, a commitment to moral and ethical principals, the courage to see mistakes or bad outcomes as gifts, and the humility to not lose yourself in moments of success, one can achieve their “personal legend.”

Similar to taking the “road less traveled,” achieving one’s personal legend may come at a cost. Life consists of a series of “mini crossroads,” where good choices, despite one’s best intentions, can result in failure and disappointment. For those of us who are pursuing our personal legend, we know that life’s loftiest and most heartfelt goals can sometimes end in failure and disappointment; but still we persevere. By dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of our very best version of ourselves, we are able to transform our moments of disappointment, disillusionment, or embarrassment, into achieved goals and dreams.

The words of Robert Frost and Paul Coelho have inspired me to understand that because life is truly a series of choices, we can achieve our dreams. We all come into this imperfect world, in imperfect families, and as imperfect versions of ourselves. All of us have our stories of dysfunctional families, economic hardships, medical limitations, self esteem challenges, etc. God intended us to all be able, through conscious choices, to grow and develop into something special. Without committing to a path less traveled or path toward our personal legend, we live our life, at best, in mediocrity: never quite knowing how far we could have progressed, who we could have become, and what effect on the world we could have made.

It is through a series of choices and the perseverance to pursue the goals inherent in these choices that we achieve our God given potential. Choices bring us to dreams.

The Double Life of Sex Addiction

Sex addicts are just like you and I, with the exception that they are struggling with a disorder that is gradually consuming more and more of their lives. Because sex addiction causes addicts to continually increase and escalate their sexually compulsive behaviors, they begin to lead double lives. They lead their normal life the best they can and live every moment of the day for their addictive life. Over time the normal life will unravel as the addictive life consumes more and more of time and energy.

For addicts, this issue is a deep, haunting secret. They live in constant fear of being caught. Tension, anxiety and stress built up as a result of having to live a secret double life. The compulsion to engage in sexual behaviors becomes more and more time consuming and the addict finds that he has to constantly escalate his behaviors just to achieve a sense of normalcy in his life. Along with a deteriorating emotional state, many addicts suffer from severe consequences as a result of their double life.

Relationships suffer as a result of this addiction. When a sex addict is living a double life, he tends to withdraw from everyone, including his spouse or life partner. This means that his relationships will suffer and in some cases become broken. The person he is in a relationship with will find it difficult to understand his change in behavior. Naturally, the addict will not be able to explain that change out of fear of revealing his double life.

Leading a double life often has serious financial implications as well. Individuals begin to neglect their responsibilities or are unable to perform well at work as a result of engaging in sexually addictive behaviors the night or morning before work. In some cases, addicts may even be engaging in sexual behaviors while at work, to the detriment of their duties. All of these instances of neglect will eventually add up, and employers will be left with no choice but to terminate the person. Repeated warnings will not be enough for an addict to stop the neglectful behavior from continuing.

Another source of stress and financial burden comes from the expenses related to leading a double life as a sex addict. Just like gambling, alcohol and drug addictions, sex addiction can become quite costly. The costs of pornography, online sex chats, phone sex chat lines, prostitutes, strip clubs, adult videos and books and other sexually related goods can add up to huge debt for the sex addict. The burden of covering up these expenses combined with the looming debt will only add to the pressure the addict is experiencing while trying to keep his double life a secret.

Over time, this double life can lead to severe consequences such as divorce or loss of a house. Unfortunately, like any other addiction, the individual will need to make the decision to seek help, and it often takes serious consequences to convince a sex addict to get help. However, once the addict makes that decision, there are many effective programs that can lead him to lifelong recovery.