“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” — Maya Angelou
What does it take not just to survive, but to thrive in the world today? For starters, you must come to terms with the fact that you were not born to muddle through a life of mediocrity, but instead, you were born to greatness. Secondly, you must realize that thriving is possible, not just in some general sense or for the fortunate elect, but for you. Finally, you must take the steps necessary – seize the day! – to ride the wave of life rather than having it crash upon your head over and over again.
The best place to start is with the little things in your day: the brief conversations and simple tasks. Pepper these with a bit more passion, compassion, humor, and style than you usually do. Build up a little momentum. Show yourself how easy it really is. From there you can begin to tackle the more challenging elements of your day in the same spirit.
As you go along you’ll find that those things which used to annoy you start to be seen as exciting challenges, tests of your capacity for thriving. No circumstance is ever bigger than your ability to handle it with grace, dignity, and flair. But don’t just take it from me, prove it to yourself!
If you have had occasion to watch children at play, it was probably evident that to the mind of a child, every experience is a form of exploration. The nature of the experience matters little. They might be at school or at play, building a sandcastle or riding bicycles in the neighborhood, quietly playing alone or laughing and screaming in a group. Children are always exploring.
It’s wonderful to see this approach being taken by adults as well, adults who do not submit to the idea that they’ve seen it all. To such adults, even familiar circumstances are worthy of deeper examination.
It is said that there is nothing new under the sun, but to my mind newness can be found – if you are willing to explore a little – in all things.
All or nothing? I say not so.
Perfection’s right for the moment:
What’s right for now’s
Not right for then.
True love admits mistakes;
After all, mistakes happen,
And are not always failure.
And failure does not imply
True love is unconditional.
Love’s Blessing, a poem by Gregg Hake
As the soft summery twilight
Floats through the sticky air
My heart’s no longer finite
For it does love declare
It echoes on the mountains
And sings above the sea
It pours up from the fountains
And blesses you and me
Whether life is fated or not, the way in which you handle adversity either softens or hardens your heart.
If you rise the the occasion, meeting the challenges that come your way with courage, honesty, inventiveness, and determination, it matters not if you succeed or fail. Either way you will be a better man or woman for the effort and your heart will be softened and yielded to the wisdom within you.
If, on the contrary, you shrink from the difficulties that come along your path in life, and fail by inaction, withdrawal, cunning, or complaint, then your heart will be hardened to future adversity by virtue of the plaque of shame.
The choice is yours.
“‘Go back?’ he thought. ‘No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!’ So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Tolkien’s quote reminds me of a post I wrote way back in 2010 on the matter of living victoriously, called “A Brave and Determined Spirit.” In that post I recalled a scary walk down a long, dark stairwell that I had taken in Germany many years ago. It occurs to me today that life is filled with many such moments, metaphorically speaking, and that, no matter how many times you’ve experienced and overcome challenges you still have to rise up to meet them so that you can continue to go forward.
Each victory can be a stepping stone to the next. Likewise, each failure, rightly handled, can be a gateway to the next victory. When you realize this, there is only one thing to do: go forward!