Stepping stones along a path

Path

Are you headed in the right direction?

Are your journey and your desired destination likely to make you happy?

Did you chart your own path, or is it a product of circumstances? Do you have control over your path?

That last one is a biggie. It may seem that our paths are out of our control, that we are destined to continue with our lives the way we have been and that deviations aren’t possible. We may feel trapped.

In some cases, we are wedded to certain aspects of our lives. We make commitments, we have responsibilities, and we have people to whom we have to answer. But if we take those as foundations on which we can build a life that is flexible (as much as possible), fun, fulfilling, and meaningful, we may find that we have more control over our paths than we originally thought.

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Man screaming in pain

Pain

Pain hurts.

No one wants pain in their lives, but we all have it. If we didn’t have pain, we probably wouldn’t have much joy. Creating happiness in our lives involves taking risks—including the risk of pain. Ultimately, if we can find a balance between pain and joy, we have had a life worth living.

There are different kinds of pain, and it can come from different sources. There is physical pain, the pain of unfulfilled desire, the pain of loss, the pain of regret. Some might say that these are different kinds of pain—in how they feel and in how they manifest—but to me, they are very similar. Intense emotional pain hurts just as deeply as any physical pain we might endure.

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Man in the woods in a moment of clarity

Clarity

Static. Distraction. White noise.

In the modern world, endless activities and interruptions can divert our minds from what is in front of us and interfere with our clarity.

We check e-mail, text, take phone calls, go to meetings; with so many distractions, uninterrupted time—doing anything—seems like a luxury.

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Double exposure of girl and autumn landscape

Signals

The Universe is talking to us all the time; it’s up to us to listen.

We all have signals in our life that let us know something is not quite right—signals that we should acknowledge and on which we should act.

These signals include how we feel, physically and emotionally. They also include how people react to us or the state of our relationships, how we spend our time, our energy level, and our ability to focus. Each of these can say a lot about the state of our lives.

Do we pay attention to these signals? Do we even know what they are?

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Rotating clock, close-up

Time

What is the most valuable commodity?

Plutonium? Diamonds? Platinum?

I bet many people would say that it’s time.

Yes, I know—time is not technically a commodity, but we often treat it like one—we save it, trade it, and consume it.

How do we respond to all the demands on our time?

Some people treat it as a public good, or as something that is available on a first-come, first-served basis, to anyone. They give of their time freely, to whomever asks for it. Although that approach can produce some interesting results, most of us have too many responsibilities to be able to give away our time so generously.

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