Don’t just be a bystander in your own life.
People love to use the phrase “life-changing.” Life-changing books, advice, questions, quotes. I’m just as guilty as the next writer of pulling the whole life-changing card, and sometimes I’ve got to remind myself to reign it in.
Because as much as I know there are so many incredible sources of wisdom that really can change our lives, none of it can really make a difference unless that’s what we choose.
Are you an active player in your life?
Some of us behave more like bystanders. We see each major life event as something that happens to us. And when anything does happen, we tend to minimize the power of our response.
Yet, there are few things in the world that can change your life unless you let it. In other words, you have to make a choice.
Even in the most heartbreaking of circumstances, like the death of a loved one, we choose how to proceed. And there are plenty of folks who will go about their lives doing business as usual.
Some mask pain while others push it away. And some refuse to learn a thing.
Perhaps a certain incident ought to have changed your course or changed your mind. Maybe you really should use that book to change your life. Your father’s death could have shifted your entire perspective, but that’s not what you wound up choosing.
It’s up to you whether or not you learn your life lessons.
You know the drill. Nobody is going to lead you to water and then make you drink. You have to choose your lessons well or risk leading a miserably stagnant life.
It’s a myth that reading a book will change your life. Even asking yourself the supposedly right questions will all come out wrong if you don’t do something with the answers.
The hard part is the follow through.
It’s easy to collect powerful quotes. Easy to read incredible books. It is way too easy to label anything as life changing, and then fail to change our lives.
The problem is a lack of follow through. Once we make a decision, we typically need to keep making choices to support that first one.
It’s not enough to say something has changed us. You’ve got to actually live out that change. And that’s going to take both time and effort.
There aren’t too many shortcuts in this life.
Not usually, anyway. We fool ourselves when we look at certain sources of wisdom to change us with very little effort of our own.
Outside forces may certainly inspire us, but lasting change must come from within. And it’s rarely done quickly. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
Most truly life-changing choices happen as a series of smaller decisions. They require commitment, because a week or two from now, you might have changed your mind all over again.
That’s why I’m not a fan of “life hacks.” They usually have something like a shelf life.
You need to build up your endurance.
If you really want to apply some bit of wisdom to your life, you’ve got to work on your personal endurance. The emotional kind.
You’ve got to be able to push past excuses and focus on the life you wish to create. That sort of endurance takes plenty of practice.
It isn’t enough to look at those quotes once in a great while or to read that book once through. After asking yourself how you will apply the wisdom to your life, you’ve also got to keep it up.
Often that means following through even when you feel like throwing in the towel. And that’s what makes endurance so vital.
Your life won’t change until you’re ready.
As much as we love to say that certain things have changed our lives, the reality is that our lives will only ever change when we are ready.
Sure, shit happens, but whether or not we deal with it well is always up to us. If certain circumstances bring about an epiphany, it’s only because we were ready for one.
And if it turns out that the epiphany was built to last? It’s not something that happens on its own. That only happens when we are ready and willing to make those changes stick.
Quit being a bystander.
Give yourself the opportunity to experience actual life-changing moments and events. Gobble up all the words of wisdom that you like, but try to routinely apply them to your life.
Nothing and no one is going to be everything you need. You might read an inspiring story that feels like a kick in the pants, but it’s still up to you to make a choice and do something with that feeling.
Only you can take action to apply all of that inspiration to your life. But that can’t happen if you’re simply letting life pass you by.