When you think about what you want from life, what do you immediately see?Like anything we try to achieve in our lives, we will be much more likely to be successful if we are specific and intentional. Creating and continuously honing our idea of what success looks like is an important aspect of achieving our goals as well as developing goals that will make our lives meaningful. Most of us, if asked what we want from life, should at least be able to answer in general terms—raising happy, healthy children, providing for our families, happiness. But how many have a deeper or more specific answer at the ready—a vision for their lives and a path to making that vision a reality?
We all have the responsibility for our own lives. That may seem obvious, but there’s a big difference between acknowledging that fact and actually incorporating it into how we live our lives. If we truly embrace our responsibility for our lives, we live our lives according to what gives our lives meaning and what makes us happy.
It’s extremely easy to live a reactive life, bouncing around based on what’s happening to you and using external cause and effect as the foundation for where your life is going. But the fact is, the direction our lives take is totally and completely up to us. It may not seem like that sometimes—we all have elements of our lives that seem totally out of our control—but if we take a closer look, we might find that many of those elements are in our lives by choice. We could choose to drop them if it came down to it (see “Choice”). We also might find that we’re letting those things dictate the direction of our lives when we could be taking more control of some of those “out-of-our-control” elements.
When most people think about peace, they might immediately jump to the absence of conflict or war, but there is so much more to the idea. Peace is an attitude that we can keep in our hearts; it is an intention we can strive to fulfill. Peace is an approach toward life that, if we stay true to it, will allow us to move through our lives in harmony with those around us. However, it is more significant than that. Peace is an ideal we must aspire to—a condition that the human race must eventually evolve toward if we are to survive.
The word “work” often has a negative connotation. We have to wake up every day and do something that we might not necessarily choose to do if we weren’t getting paid for it.
But if we think about our days as a series of moments, each special in its own way, we can transcend many of the negative aspects of working and change our attitude about what we do—from one of working to one of being—making the most out of each moment and realizing that each moment is special.
In our jobs, we may not always have the flexibility to work on the things we care about or enjoy, but we do have control over the person who shows up for the job. We should care about the work we do because we are the ones doing it. We are bringing our presence, intellect, energy, and personality to our jobs. We are giving of ourselves, and that, in and of itself, makes the work we do special.
What do we do when negativity rears its ugly head?
We can try to always be positive and optimistic, but we can’t control it when others are negative.
However, by categorizing others’ words or actions as negative, we necessarily attach our own judgments to them and actually contribute to those words or actions being negative. We feed their negativity.
But what about inconsiderate drivers, rude retail clerks, catty relatives, surly teenagers, arrogant coworkers (I could go on all day)? Aren’t these people’s words and actions inherently negative? Maybe, but it’s not that simple.