Preference Beyond Choice

That which others are passionate about may feel totally hollow and empty to us, but that does not mean we cannot enthusiastically support their passion.

“I Choose Love” painted on a wall in Chinatown, NYC – Photo by Robert Van Valkenburgh (artist unknown)

We are not all the same. We do not all enjoy and value the same things, the same activities, the same music, the same movies, the same art, the same style, the same food, or even the same people. Not only is this okay, but it should be embraced and celebrated, for it is our differences that make us interesting.

As much as preferences are based on our life’s experiences, how we were raised, our cultures, and our personal philosophies, they are also a bit of a mystery. We cannot know all of the reasons we like one thing over another, why some things move us, frighten us, attract us, repulse us, excite us, or bore us. Our feelings go deeper than our conscious understanding.

When we see that others enjoy something we do not, so long as it is within the realm of reasonable morality, instead of dismissing them or their preferences outright, we would be well-served to pause and to consider that perhaps their preference for that thing is no different than our preference against it. It may not be a matter of their choice to like it any more than it is our choice to dislike it. When we care about someone, we do not have to enjoy the things that they enjoy in order to support their enjoyment of those things.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.

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