Just how wonderful will life be if we have no worries and no down days? Imagine that you can go to bed at night feeling blessed to have lived in and through that day; that you wake up in the morning with energy and power and have these sustained as you go through the day; and that you can actually look forward to the days ahead not with fear and anxiety but with excitement and zeal, with an almost certain assurance that all will be well. This is what it means to be in control of your life; to live the present on your own terms and to pursue the future with the confidence that you will have your desires.
I will be giving 3 mandates to help you take charge of your life. Note, I used the word mandate deliberately because it is not just enough for you to have information, you must mandatorily put the shared principles into daily practice until they become habits that will propel you to succeed.
So, here’s the first one:
Are you disappointed? Sometimes, we get so used to a word or idea or even a person, that we begin to take them for granted. Such is the case with gratitude. We have all been hearing about the wonders of gratitude, yet we more often than not fail to apply it.
Gratitude is a feeling, not a doing. It’s more than just saying ‘thanks’ when we receive help; it’s actually feeling thank-full. It should not just be a mechanical movement of the lips but a sincere emotion from the heart.
Be grateful for waking up in the morning; for being alive through the day; for the organs of your body that function; for some things that you have that others don’t have; for the friends in your life and for the good days you’ve had and still hope to have. Each morning when you wake up, before any other thing, take time to look around you and be thankful. And if what you see around you are not pleasant? Then be thankful that you have the eyes to see them, the sense to understand how they look, and just the breath to make you alive and aware.
Life is a gift; life is a precious gift. Be thankful for yours.
Nick Vujicic, the happy man without arms and legs and who still go around encouraging people, said his parents told him when he was young and disillusioned about life because of his situation: “You can either be angry for what you don’t have or be thankful for what you do have.” It’s actually your choice. But if you choose to be grateful and thankful, I bet you, life will take on a whole new meaning for you and the loved ones around you.
Gratitude puts you in a positive frame of mind that gives you the energy to tackle the challenges of life as they appear daily. So, to take control of your life, form the habit of gratitude.
Finally on gratitude, there is a Yoruba saying that, “the person who can reason well, can be grateful.” Gratitude can be learnt; all you need to do is find a quiet place, convince yourself of the benefits of gratitude (including rest of mind, positive disposition to life, inner strength and energy to live, etc) and then let your mind consider everything around you and in your life for which you can and should be grateful. You will be surprised at the result. From that moment on, live gratefully and thankfully.
Expect and Embrace Challenges
In an old interview, Michael Jordan narrated how, during practice, while his team was leading by several points, the coach would switch him to the losing team, and Jordan said his new team would fight and bounce back and go on to win the game. This, Jordan said, was what helped him during live games. Whatever the challenge on the court, he had experienced it during practice and he had no problem replicating it in the live game. That’s an insight into how he became the greatest basketball player ever.
Life is a game, and Jordan’s words remain invaluable to every living soul.
The unpleasant challenges of today are the practices and trainings necessary for the bigger games of the future. And the sooner and better you learn the lessons in today’s challenges, the quicker and bigger will come the promises of a pleasant tomorrow.
If life goes smoothly without challenges, then living happy will come naturally. But then, growth will be impossible. Every advancement you see in our world – in science, medicine, business, technology, and what have you – came out of struggles; the necessity to overcome challenges and make life better.
So, to take control of your life, stop fearing and trying to avoid challenges. Rather, let the difficulties that come your way help you to grow better and bigger.
Life is not perfect, and no one is spared the troubles of this imperfect world. Neither are you, nor will you be. So, don’t allow the challenges you face to weigh you down. Rather, prepare your mind to absorb the shock of uncertainties and painful moments; and then use the same mind to craft ways to surmount the difficulties and to use the lessons you learn in the process to move your life forward.
If you’re not overly disturbed when challenges come because you’re expecting them; if you embrace the challenges, make meaning out of them and creatively move past them; if you apply the lessons you learn to improve the quality of your life and of those around you; then you will have discovered one of the greatest secrets of life: the secret of living a happy, meaningful life.
Attack Life, Vigorously
To be in charge, learn to be proactive, to take the offensive, to attack. In other words, don’t wait for life to happen to you; go and happen to life. Take the driver’s seat in your own life; decide where you’re going and how you will like to get there.
You may be grateful for your life, and face life’s challenges graciously, but if after a long period of time it doesn’t seem like all these is leading anywhere; you are likely to get tired. Tony Robbins said no matter how big a person’s life is, people are only happy when they’re making progress. This is true for everyone.
Find some worthy cause to pursue (that thing you’re on now may be one, depending on how you look at it) and make sure you’re getting closer to your dreams each passing moment.
No matter the challenges, do something more, something better, in specific areas of your life every day. Let the world know you have a place you’re going and that you’re determined to get there; life will yield to you.
If you need help on turning the three principles above into habits, then read my two posts on Always Remember: The Single Most Important Strategy to Live a Life of Meaning and to Achieve Anything – in Business and Life and Always Remember: The Single Most Important Strategy to Live a Life of Meaning and to Achieve Anything – in Business and Life (Part 2)