Monday, April 12, 2004

When Will Life Stop Being a Struggle?

A question I hear often, along with many others. "When will I finally have time for me...for my life? When will I be successful?" or "When will I know true happiness?"

I know my answers will be controversial and cause reactions. Good. If I'm pushing your buttons in any way it means you should be looking at why I might be making you angry.

You will know true happiness when you choose the good in every day rather than the bad. You will know it when you live it, share it and give instead of having expectations of what you'll get. As soon as you approach life with the attitude "What's in it for me?" rather than "What is it I can give that will make a difference?" you'll have a difficult time of finding happiness, for it will be conditional upon others, circumstances and everything that's outside of your control. When will you have time for you? for your life? As soon as you take it. I watch clients and friends work 16 to 18 hour days and never seem to 'catch up'. They come into work tired in the morning and leave so exhausted they can't think straight. And then they lament the good ole days when things were easier, pressure wasn't there, and there were family values. There was a sense of family, period.

Everything you experience you create because of the choices you make. Your life is divided into past, present and future. No one can bring your past back nor can they predict the future. You can either dream of a time that won't happen again or make choices right now that will create a life you love, now and in the future. I believe many are angry at the rat race, not so much because of what the world has become, but because they're angry at themselves for not choosing to do something about it, as far as their life goes at any rate. We want more and better for our kids and future generations but if all we teach them is no work/life balance, how are they supposed to know better?

Change begins now. And if begins with making one choice at a time. Through choice brings freedom. I live in a society that allows the tremendous gift of free choice. Many don't. If we don't exercise those rights it's taking a precious gift and throwing it down the drain. We teach by example. When we choose happiness, life, giving, rather than receiving we teach living. That's what I want to teach my son and for him to pass it on to his children in the future. We talk about it often and he sees how I live and what I live and to him, in his words, that was the best lesson of all.

I started on my own from scratch more times than I care to remember. Circumstances threw many monkey wrenches my way. It never occurred to me that I would fail. And no matter how hard I work (though I love my work so much it's more like play) I will never give up time with family, friends and those most important to me. Nothing is worth that.

My two cents for the day. And before you start with all the comments and excuses telling me I'm oversimplifying things, and "in my life things are different..." take that anger and energy and turn it into "How can I make what I want happen?" instead.

Donna Karlin

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