Choose the Life You Really Want

by Jonathan

change your life

Everything we do in life is a choice, and I think most of us realize that. But what most people don’t seem to realize is that everything we don’t do in life is also a choice. Every day we choose to do some things and to not do other things.

Sometimes choosing not to do something is the wisest choice. However, there is a huge difference between choosing not to do something and choosing to do nothing.

Most people would like to change their life in one way or another. How about you? Are there areas of your life that you would like to change?

What is stopping you?

Anytime you want to, you can change your life, but just wanting to change is not enough. You must make a choice to change. Doing nothing and wishing things would change is the course most people choose. Consequently, nothing ever changes.

The thought of having a different life, or a different quality of life, is very appealing to most people. It’s easy to imagine being in better physical condition, having a more rewarding career, and enjoying more meaningful relationships. But pretending doesn’t get the job done, does it?

Obviously, more is required

We have all created our present situation by the choices we made in the past. If we chose to do nothing, then our situation reflects that. Recognizing that we live in a world of our own creation means that we are responsible. If we don’t like our life the way it is, then we are the ones responsible for making changes.

Does the thought of change make you feel uncomfortable?

One of the most common reasons why people are uncomfortable with change is because they haven’t yet accepted full responsibility. For some reason, it seems to be a natural tendency to shrink away from responsibility.

This kind of mindset creates helplessness. It means that we are looking for change outside of ourselves. We may look to our mates to make us happy, or we may look to our careers to make us feel fulfilled. In a situation like this, if things don’t turn out the way we want, we tend to blame our mates or our careers.

No one else can make you happy, that’s up to you

No career or other person can bring you satisfaction if you are dissatisfied with yourself.

Here are 10 feelings that we are each responsible for:

1. Happy or unhappy
2. Fulfilled or unfulfilled
3. Satisfied or dissatisfied
4. Encouraged or discouraged
5. Loved or unloved
6. Worthy or unworthy
7. Approved of, or disapproved of
8. Deserving or undeserving
9. Grateful or ungrateful
10. Secure or insecure

Look at this list and ask yourself, “have I personally taken responsibility for these feelings in my life?” If you find that you are still looking to outside sources, then perhaps it’s time to accept personal responsibility.

Liberate yourself

Accepting responsibility is actually a very liberating experience. Once we recognize that we are the ones in control, it makes life much simpler. Granted, we can’t always control what goes on around us, any more than we can control the weather. So what can we control?

We can control our response to everything that happens!

Understanding this concept is a vital key to improving the quality of your life.

Whatever happens, you are in complete control of your response. You decide what value any event has in your life. Once you make an evaluation, you have the freedom to choose what comes next.

If you’re not happy with your physical condition, make a choice to change, starting today. Too much pondering and over analyzing  just allows the current situation to continue. Yes, we want to make wise choices. But we don’t want to endlessly delay making a choice as we continue searching for the best solution.

That’s just a form of avoidance

Any time you want to, you can begin changing your life. You can change your physical, emotional, mental, or financial situation, and you can start today.

It all starts with a choice

If it seems overwhelming, pick one area of your life and start there. You don’t need to dive into the deep end, but you do need to start taking action.

Here are three examples:

1) Imagine that your weight has gotten out of control. At this point you’re so frustrated that you just don’t know where to begin. So, up until now you’ve done nothing. Why not start walking for 20 or 30 minutes every day? You can plan your next weight loss step while you’re walking. If you think you can’t afford to spend 20 or 30 minutes a day improving the quality of your life, think again.

If your life is so busy you really can’t find an extra few minutes, then combine activities. Walk to the store, walk on your lunch break, or park your car as far away from your destination as possible and walk. I’m always amazed to see people who need some exercise sitting in their cars waiting for a parking space close to the entrance to the store. If they parked at the other end of the lot, they could be walking instead of waiting.

2) The quality of your closest relationship is not what you’d like it to be. Could you make a choice today to change your role in that relationship? Whatever it is that you would like to receive more of in your relationship, could you put more of that same quality into your relationship?

If you don’t feel that your mate is paying enough attention to you, could you make time to pay more attention to them? If you don’t feel that they listen to you, could you try to be a better listener yourself?

As you raise the value of your role in the relationship, your mate will likely respond in kind. Whatever it is you want to receive, that’s what you need to give.

3) If you feel that your life is lacking joy and happiness, what can you do? You might start by counting your blessings. What are you truly grateful for, and how does that make you feel? What else?

True happiness comes from being grateful for what we have and from giving. Could you give a smile to everyone who makes eye contact with you? Could you give some encouragement to someone who’s feeling discouraged? When you become a source of happiness for others, you are giving. A very reliable source tells us that there is happiness is giving.

The point is, once you make a choice, there is always a way to follow through. The hardest thing is often just making the choice to get started. You have an enormous amount of power to control the quality of your life. Don’t settle for doing nothing. Make a choice to have the life you want, choose a place to start working on it, and make a choice to get started today.

Are there choices that you need to make?
Do you feel empowered when you make a choice to take action?
The lines are open
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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

maryann

Accountability and Responsibility are the keys to self fulfillment. There is no one to blame except oneself and once that is an understood, progress itself is in the making.

Thanks for another great read, Jonathan!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Mary Ann, you hit that nail right between the eyes. That’s really the bottom line.

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ZuzannaM

Hello Jonathan,

Speaking of happiness, definitely no one will make us happy. Happiness is the inner thing. One time I was facing a change… I dread of laid off, was scared of it! One day I found myself in that situation but there was no end of the World either. Sure, the beginning was harder, as I had to learn from scratch in a new agency, but benefited from change, and my happiness was greater then before because it made me realize that there are some options. Completed education and began a new journey. Therefore, change can be positive and buster to happiness. In decision-making process, we must think carefully what we want in life to fulfill our desires and increase happy feeling. I guess it worked in my case…:)

Thank you,
Zuzanna

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Zuzanna, the nice thing is that once we achieve that inner happiness, then other people can really add to it. On the other hand, if we look to others to provide it initially, we will never find real happiness.

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Robin Easton

Dear Jonathan,

This is a vitally important post. It’s like asking ourselves, “Could I go the rest of my life and never—I repeat, NEVER—blame anyone or anything else for the condition of my life?” Never blame again, not even subtly. Not even OURSELVES, because even that can be a cop out. It can be easier for us to blame ourselves than to take action, grow, rectify, forgive, mend, try again, improve and so on. If we can blame ourselves or others we don’t have to act and grow. We can stay emotionally lazy.

I discovered that blame of any form is a cop out. So is feeling sorry for ourselves and like victim, (like your last post about “I can’t”). Sometimes when we are feeling sorry for ourselves or like a victim we don’t even really know who or what we are blaming. It’s just a general pity party. It’s important to really explore these feelings and track them, nail them down so they are not left so general, elusive…unconscious…and even acceptable. .

I guess what I’m saying is that to grasp that the state of my ENTIRE life rests on ME sets me free. I LOVE THAT!! It is the very reason I made the choice to claim my life in my late twenties. I knew that if I didn’t take responsibility for my ENTIRE life, every action and choice and every “choice of non action” that I would be like a piece of fluff blown hither and thither on the wind, a paper airplane without a self propelled engine.

But if I took 100% responsibility for my life even my down falls, mistakes, etc, then the world was my oyster. That is a totally liberating thought. And an even MORE liberating life experience. It is a Life well lived.

It may seem that it’s easier to blame another person or life circumstance for the condition of our lives, because blame is easily done and takes no effort, no thinking, nothing. It’s habit. But we actually harm ourselves far more than we harm anyone else. We have in essence made a VERY powerful choice to throw our lives away. I know that may sound harsh but I really believe that when we don’t take FULL responsibility for everything we do (and don’t do) that we abandon ourselves lock stock and barrel. We put the plane on auto pilot, go to the back of plane sit down to have a long unconscious nap, until the plane runs out of fuel, crashes and then we have a more permanent nap. LOL!

But if we go up into that cockpit and take charge of our plane we can go anywhere we want, see anything we want and be anything we want.

Have a great week my friend.
My very best to you and your wife.
Hugs,
Robin

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Robin, you hit some very important points here. Noting where we could have done better is one thing, but beating ourselves up for it is altogether different. And yes, using blame as an excuse for not “taking action, growing, rectifying, forgiving, mending, trying again, or improving” is self imposed paralysis.

This was so powerful: “If we can blame ourselves or others we don’t have to act and grow. We can stay emotionally lazy.” Blame if in fact the lazy persons crutch.

Your whole comment was so powerful and it’s so nice that you joined the conversation. Thank you for the warm greeting and great insight. It really means a lot.

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Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living

Wow, I was about to put my own comment but I stopped dead in my “mouse” tracks and read the entire commentary by Robin, and cannot agree with her more. Not to blame anyone or anything including ourselves but to take full responsibility. Of course in more detail as Robin put it so eloquently. I love it! Thank you! I try to live that way but now am even more aware of why I truly should!!!!!

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Robin Easton

Please forgive the length of my comment! LOL! It’s just that this is a topic dear to my heart. :) Live, it can set people free!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Was it long? I thought it was just a short guest post. Seriously, there is always room here for anything you want to say Robin, always!

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Robin Easton

Dear Jonathan, Your words and reflecting back to me what just poured out of my heart, just made my whole day. I seem to just open up here and don’t really think about it. And your reflections back help me to claim more of who I am. That is very empowering. Thank you for creating a space that encourages me to speak so freely and openly. It is what encourages me and others here to grow and see who we are. Bless you!! R PS Also laughed over the guest post thing. Am still laughing now. :) :)

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Steve-Personal Success Factors

I read a Seth Godin blog post today that reminded me of your either or choices you listed above. There is a lot on the net to expose ourselves to, just as there are many attitudes and thoughts that we can ‘expose’ ourselves to inside our mind. The key is, What are we going to Choose to Focus on? Asking the right questions and choosing the right attitudes and thoughts, as well as actions, are key to living the life we want to live.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Steve, so much of life just comes back to the glass being half full or half empty. Of course, it’s both, right. But are we going to focus on the empty part, or the full part. That’s a choice we all need to make for ourselves. It’s a choice that will follow us into every aspect of life.

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DaveUrsillo

Happiness really does originate with gratefulness. When we find thankfulness in life, when the things that matter most are clear, we nurture a natural want to help others realize their thankfulness and also gain “more” out of life, for which they can be more thankful.

Thank you for your continued insight, Jonathan!

Dave

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Dave, you really expressed that nicely. Isn’t it great to hear the same lesson expressed in someone else’s words. I think it add so much, thanks.

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Phil - Less Ordinary Living

Jonathan -

Choice – what a powerful word. Acknowledging that we always have a choice in every situation is so powerful. I like your link to taking responsibility for our situation and our happiness. We create our situation through our choices or lack of choices and we can just as easily change it. As my mentor says – take responsibility for choices and enjoy the outcomes! Great post.

Phil

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Phil, making the choice to embrace responsibility for our lives is the single most empowering choice we can make.

Okay, you got my curiosity up, who is this mysterious mentor of yours?

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Catrien Ross

Jonathan, thank you for such profound insight – choosing not to do something. We can choose not to scowl at the weather, we can choose not to snap at someone in annoyance, we can choose not to feel sorry for ourselves, we can choose not to moan about the negatives, we can choose not to limit our responses, we can choose not to criticize or complain, we can choose to step out of our usual patterns, we can choose not to feel powerless.

And when we choose not to we find that we eliminate so many of the nots that limit and depress our attitudes and daily lives. Suddenly choice becomes a growth into I am and I can and I do. So life-affirming and so positive.

Thank you for such an important and encouraging post, Jonathan. And thank you for choosing to take a tour of our blog project and commenting on my blog.

It is a glorious morning here in the mountains in Japan. Hope you have a wonderful day filled with just the choices you desire – Catrien Ross.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Catrien, isn’t it great to have so many choices? Every aspect of life presents us with options and all we need to do is pick one, and sanctify it with some action. What could be better than that?

I really love the articles on getting unstuck. Even more that the articles I enjoyed the wisdom and energy around the project. It was very special.

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Lance

Jonathan,
As I read this, I instantly think of a favorite quote of mine:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

We DO have the power to choose our responses…always. And I often think about this idea of “doing nothing”, and how that truly is a choice too – we are choosing to do nothing.

The power of choice…such a great reminder of what we CAN do when we actively choose our responses (to everything). There is great power within each of us….it’s just a matter of choosing to use it.

Love the thoughts Jonathan!!!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Lance, that was a great quote from Viktor E. Frankl, and wise words from you my friend. It is such a shame that so much personal power goes untapped because the choice is never made. But like you said, even not choosing is a choice.

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Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living

Such clarifying thoughts on such a rainy day over here. Jonathan, thank you. I think it’s really easy to fall in the trap. I am pretty good about self-discipline but that mattered not when my self-discipline was about the “wrong” thing – namely a career that was not serving me well, and change out of that comfortable (financially) yet truly disruptive work mode (affecting my health, well-being and my poor boyfriend/now husband!). And I finally one day walked away and have I ever regretted it? Things I have done for me and for my health since I broke those chains, now that could be a long story for another day but the short of it is that your advice rings so true, through and through…no play on words intended! :)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Greetings Farnoosh, a friend of mine likes to say “first comes the fear, then the blessing.” Walking away takes courage. It’s a courageous choice, but look at the blessings. Thank you for sharing that.

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Richard

Fear is always the boundary stopping us. If we face our fears we will get to a place where we are 100% totally free to choose our actions and we become proactive over reactive. it’s a great place to be.

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Oprah

Dear Jonathan
As a person that believes that life is always changing, because what we are today in not what we will be tomorrow. It seems like I am working towards changes all the time.
In my perspective choosing the life I want to myself start with the acknowledgment of what and who I am. Only then I can really choose the life I want to myself and take responsibility for my life.
I appreciate your enlighten post. Thank you.

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Dr Mugdha Chawan

Really nice, uplifting, inspiring and true facts…… :)

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dichotomy

I understand why everyone feels all warm and fuzzy here and has tons of inspirational things to say to one another, but you guys just don’t get mental illness, at all!
:(
who “chooses” to be sad and feel depressed???
that’s really kind of ignorant and condescending to the people who suffer depression, bi polar, anxiety and other mental illnesses that make responding to life’s “little” curve balls so much more difficult than the average person who feels a little “blue” or out of sorts.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Dichotomy, specialized challenges require specialized and individualized solutions. This site is focused on those who have the capacity for, and the desire to, create positive change in their lives. While I wish the very best for any who suffer from the specific challenges you mentioned, that is not my audience nor am I qualified to address those issues. Would you deny the majority the strategies and encouragement they can benefit from from the sake of those who need a specialist?

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Chuck Horne

I read the above and I shall say I received much from the article and the comments. I have been diagnosed with bipolar and ptsd. Having these does not mean I can not make a choice to learn or understand. So with that said, I do think that everything said can be useful to all if they make that choice. In regards to the glass being half filled or half empty. This has been a long discussion by so many. I was told that one time this was given to children who had the same views except one. He said, it’s not half full or half empty, it’s the wrong size glass. This really hit me that if I do not see things for exactly what they are then the solutions will not ever work. Last comment about beating yourself up, I have never learned anything by doing it the right way the first time. Peace to all.

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Jason

Choosing NOT to choose is the most common choice people will default to when they perceive difficulty. The problem with this is that all personal growth is initially perceived as being difficult and/or uncomfortable. Short-term comfort at the expense of long-term growth, happiness, and genuine self-fulfillment is not a very intelligent trade off!

Fantastic site and blog! : )

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