|A deliberate life|
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Many people reach a point in their lives where they take stock of their existence. They look at their partner or spouse. Their relationship with friends and family. The kids. Work.
The individual is troubled by what they see. Things are not quite what they had hoped for. They ask: Is this really what I want to do with my life?
You suddenly realise that you have drifted along in life, letting others choose for you and mould your fate. All the work and strife and long hours and sacrifice have resulted in this.
The fat lazy, inflexible, prematurely old body... Unmotivated. Indifferent. A job you care nothing for. Your life ahead of you involves growing old, retiring, dying...
It is common for people to crack up, do erratic things: buy a sports car, take up a reckless pursuit, travel the world, get divorced, have an affair...
These are knee jerk reactions. They may provide a short-term thrill but are simply an attempt to paper over the cracks. The real problem is you.
The first step in living a deliberate life is to recognise - fully and completely - that you made the choices. Not somebody else.
Your current situation is the outcome of hundreds of choices across the span of your life. Is this not true?
Now, recognise that you can make new choices. Different choices... Better choices...
Are you wiser in hindsight?
Many of the things we have done in our lives seem less than impressive in hindsight. There were many mistakes; poor choices. This is OK.
If we can look back and see that they turned out to be mistakes - and honestly see the folly - then we are a little wiser. Nobody is perfect. We cannot see the future.
Are we smarter now then we were then? This is the real question...
Did you invest in yourself?
Since leaving school/college/university how much time, effort and money have you committed your own self-development?
How many languages have you learned?
What skills have you acquired?
Do you eat a nutritious, organic, healthy diet?
Is your fitness good?
Have you invested in a form of exercise that is sustainable throughout the span of your life?
Did you spend time exploring the nature of life?
Do you meditate?
How many calm-inducing activities and practices have you adopted?
Are your daily habits peaceful or stressed?
Is your body strong, agile, flexible, supple, resilient?
Do you need medical assistance?
Are you taking prescription pharmaceuticals?
Would you say that you are capable of defending yourself against assault?
Have you spent much time on your spiritual life?
Do you study?
Quick fixes don't last long
Our culture encourages people to seek short-term gratification. People debt-finance holidays, cars, clothing, social activities - rather than saving and waiting.
Life is filled with conveniences that perform mundane tasks and make life easy.
Easy is not necessarily better. We are rearing a world of spoiled, lazy children and child-like adults.
Obesity, depression and mental illness are on the rise globally, as people sit back in their chairs and do less each year.
In some cases - cleaning, laundry, ironing, washing dishes, gardening are all being done by other people. Time is freed up, but to do what?
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the
dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity.
But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
(T. E. Lawrence)
People dream of becoming a tai chi expert and yet never quite make it to class. Others manage a few lessons only to falter at the daunting journey ahead of them.
If all you do is daydream, your dreams will simply fade into regret. You will have breathed air. You will have existed. But you will never have dared to live...
Few things in life are easy. Accomplishments tend to take time, require great sacrifice and sustained commitment. This is what makes them worthwhile.
18 March 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023