*Note: Check out my guest post at Marc and Angle Hack Life called, 5 Character Traits that Make You Happy.
“I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is the next set in the sub-series exploring reasons that can help make you passionate about living life, excited about the prospect of living a long life of transcendent meaning and elevated purpose.
So let’s begin with a powerful truth: Your physical circumstances do not determine your happiness.
In fact, if your soul was removed from your body, life and circumstances today and placed in the body, life and circumstances of anyone else on the planet, from the rich and famous to the strong and powerful to the beautiful and fashionable to someone with all such characteristics, you will, over time, feel just about the same as you feel right now.
Sure, there will be a period of elation, of awe and excitement about the new conditions. But as that wears off, you’ll still be stuck with the same attitudes, perspectives, positive or negative ways of looking at the world. The physical circumstances of your life will not change how you feel in the long run.
If you’re critical, you’ll find new things to criticize. If you’re hateful, you’ll find new things to hate. If you’re judgmental, you’ll find new things to judge. If you tend to see things in the negative, you’ll simply find other things to be negative about.
The fear and envy, the pessimism and sensitivity, the impatience and self-criticism will follow you into the new setting. The inside of your life will always be more important than the outside in determining how happy your life will be.
How you think and interpret life — how you view the world, seeing it as a cold and lonely place or one of adventure and opportunity — that will change how you feel about life.
Some people are victims to life because that’s the role they play. That’s the mindset they have. The victim mentality is an attitude and interpretive framework irrespective of the outer conditions of that life.
The secret to living a passionate life of happiness, then, is to start looking at life with new eyes. See what you haven’t seen before. Refresh your vision. Change your perspective. Then, and only then, will you begin to feel like life is something to cherish, to honor and respect, to get excited about, passionate about every day and the opportunities it holds.
Following are the next 4 reasons to feel more passion in living from the sub-series called 14 Reasons to get Excited about Life. Click here to see the first 4 in the series. (Reminder: this is part of a larger 5-part series on overcoming depression. See the first in the larger series here).
4 more Reasons to Love Life
If you are not in love with life yet, perhaps the following will help spark the desire to snuggle up a little closer to it. My hope is to initiate a love affair between you and life. It guarantees to reciprocate whatever feelings you have for it.
Reason #5. You’re a Work in Progress
What a kick it is to know that there is so much work to do under the hood of my own life. Gears are jammed. So much squeaks and sticks and stalls and doesn’t align just right. There are leaks and rust everywhere. And that’s just fine. It really is.
I have so much to do. So much to work on. So many things about who I am and what makes me tick and why I do what I do that I will be busy tweaking and adjusting and overhauling this thing called me for my entire life … and then some!
I am, in a word, imperfection personified. But I accept the challenge to build and construct something better than I was yesterday. And then to crash and burn. And then to go at it again the next day. So guess what! I’ll never get bored on my own personal development project. I’ll never run out of things to work on!
It is in growth, after all, that life becomes exciting. So don’t denigrate yourself for not being somewhere else. It’s more the movement toward a desired end than simply being in the place the end is located that brings the most lasting happiness.
Here’s another way to look at it: You can see your imperfections as “proof” you’re worthless. Or you can see those same imperfections as evidence that you’re simply and beautifully imperfect, a fellow human being on a life-journey just like the rest of us.
Do you see the difference? The facts are the same. Only the significance and meaning we attach to those facts are different. And they change completely how the situation (and life itself) is experienced. So try to see your state of imperfection as a challenge, much like a game of chess is a challenge, waiting for you to move forward.
Since you don’t feel guilt for bad moves on a chessboard, don’t let your mistakes on life’s chess board cripple you just for making wrong moves either. All you need to do is keep stepping forward, improving, correcting missteps, then advancing forward, even if only in small baby steps.
And just as building a house can be extremely exciting, so building a life can be just as fun but infinitely more rewarding. It’s all in the attitude you bring to the blueprints.
Reason #6. There are People in Need
Reach out to others. Touch their lives. Influence their thinking. Inspire change to those beliefs that hold them back. Hold the hands of those who are weary or lonely or depressed themselves as they take the next steps to a better and happier life.
Let me get personal here for a moment, if I can. You see, I believe there are people who need my love. There are people who need my words. And there are people who need my shoulder. There are people who need my compassion, my attention and my service.
Not because I’m necessarily anything to write home about, but because there are people in need and I have love and words and shoulders. And so I offer them. You too can offer yours.
And in the offering, a weight is lifted. You sense that you’ve become important. You’re needed. As you step out into the lives of others in need, your life will be found.
When we serve others, our lives are lifted as well. Meaning and purpose and significance splash up against us, cooling the burn of our pasts. We begin to realize how very important we are, that we truly matter, that life matters, that others, God, the universe and life itself needs us.
When we reach out to bless others lives, our moods brighten. Our souls expand. Our minds broaden. And our lives deepen and reach higher heights of peace and joy. So find a cause. Join a group. Volunteer. Serve a neighbor. Visit the burn ward at the local hospital. Reaching out to others will begin to affect your emotional state in measurable ways, perhaps even on your first time.
Reason #7. We Were Meant for More
When we are feeling down, less than confident, sad, mad, afraid, guilty or otherwise feeling crummy, we can know there’s something more inside of us. There is a potential that is beyond belief.
All humanity has that same potential. Some squander it. Some ignore it. Some defeat it. Some step on it and kick it and bury it deep inside themselves. Some don’t even believe it’s there.
But it is. It’s there even when we fall dreadfully short of it. But that’s okay so long as we press forward, making an effort to take steps in the right direction. We were meant for more and I believe we can become more.
That excites me, not as guilt for not being somewhere else in life, but as a source of confidence that there is something inside us that we can dig down into to help motivate the next step forward.
Reason #8. Universal Principles Govern
There are eternal principles of truth and happiness and decency. Be passionate about exploring them.
While we may not feel great every moment of every day, we can take confidence in knowing there are universal principles of happiness that if discovered and applied consistently in the right amount and combination, we will feel the difference in our lives. That motivates me to keep learning and experimenting and growing.
Life is largely the result of how we perceive it, especially as adults. If we are down in the dumps, miserable, critical, hateful or depressed, there are ways to make huge changes to how you feel without making huge changes to the circumstances of your lives.
By adjusting attitude and perception, reality can change just as much (and maybe even more) than if the physical conditions of your life changed.
Begin to see life by the opportunities for growth and service, for the opportunity and possibility life affords, governed by principles that can be learned and applied that can, over time, revolutionize the way you feel about being alive.
- So, what do you think of the 4 reasons to love life?
- Which most moves you?
- What gets your blood pumping?
- We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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Photo credit: Michal Sibilla