“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn,” wrote C. JoyBell C.
It is in our pursuit of new life lessons that we are able to change, grow, and improve the way we live.
Here are five truths that will absolutely change your outlook:
1. A meaningful life is built with effort – not discovered by chance.
Many people wait their whole lives to “find themselves.” Unfortunately, that isn’t how personal identity and meaningful living work. Instead, we need to put an intentional effort into creating ourselves. We need to decide who we want to be and design a life that is fulfilling and enjoyable. We each have the responsibility to choose who we become and what we do. This might sound scary, but it is also very liberating. You have the exclusive power to dictate who you are and how you live your life. Don’t waste it by neglecting to take charge of your own existence. Happiness and fulfillment are personal choices – and they are often brave and difficult ones.
2. Complaining is for suckers.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” Unfortunately, we live in a culture of whiners. We complain loudly about the unfairness of life, always eager to shift the blame for our misfortunes away from ourselves. This feels gratifying. However, it gets us nowhere. Complaining excessively sours our world outlook. It rewires the brain for negativity and inhibits gratitude. Also, it can be a serious downer for others. If you absolutely need to vent about your problems, make a conscious effort to balance each grievance with three doses of gratitude. You’ll be surprised at how much more effective this is in turning your mood around.
3. The little things matter.
All too often, we stop ourselves from indulging too much in the small joys we encounter throughout the day. Doing so seems silly and frivolous – even childish. In our results-driven culture, stopping to smell the roses seems like a waste of time. However, even from a strictly practical standpoint, choosing to embrace these little indulgences – a decadent pastry, a passionate kiss, a hot bubble bath – ends up paying us back way more than these pleasures cost in terms of time or money. The return on investment is astronomical. These are the things motivate us and inspire us. They keep us feeling alive and spirited, in a world that all too often drags us down. We never fail to notice small frustrations, such as spilled coffee and slow drivers. Why not flip this thinking to work for our emotional well-being, rather than against it?
4. Our relationships will never be perfect.
We are raised on a fantasy of finding a perfect partner and riding off with them to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, the perfect partner does not exist. The perfect child does not exist. Perfect parents, perfect friends, perfect siblings – none of them are out there. When we expect perfection from our loved ones, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We are also setting our loved ones up for frustration and emotional damage. Love the people who are important to you without the condition of perfection. Be grateful when they choose to do the same. As Sam Keen wrote, “We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
5. This, too, shall pass.
Most often, we turn to this phrase for comfort during bad times. However, it is important to recognize that this concept applies to our blessings, as well. This is especially true in the context of our relationships. Your children are not going to stay this little. Someday they’re going to grow up, move out, and start families of their own. Your parents will likely pass away long before you do. Your friends may fall out of touch or move away. Your most treasured bonds are destined to change, break, and fade over time. Cherish them today. Make time for the people who are important to you. Let them know that they matter. Someday it will be too late – and you will be left with only satisfaction or regret.
As George Washington sang in the musical Hamilton, “Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder.”
The choice to live with intention is a difficult one. However, it is infinitely more rewarding than not doing so.