This questions always takes me to a contemplative state.
Do I make the choices or have external situations slithered their way into making the choices for me?
I believe the most powerful tool that we have is the human mind. The human mind has a choice on what thoughts it wants to entertain. If this is the case then although there may be external influences on one’s thoughts, it is observed that we have the choice to accept it or not. This may require a level of self-awareness initially in order to recognize such circumstances.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5
As we read from Epictetus, it is simple that we have to understand what is under my control. The body and all that is attached to it is not under our control. We could get an illness and that is an external influence as we have little control over that. However, the mind has the choice to accept a thought or not.
When we accept that we make our own choices, we tend to live a life stemmed in awareness and strive for understanding. We are calm as we know that we can’t blame other people or situations. Having an acute awareness of every thought is what makes every thought more precious and undeniably our own possession. Positive thinking does more with the mind than anything else.