“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
You’ve probably heard this saying a thousand times: “life is what you make of it.”
I always thought it was an oversimplified idea.
But I’ve come to see that it’s actually true.
1) Your choices matter more than you think
Life is full of things we can’t control. That’s why I used to think that “life is what you make of it” was untrue.
But there is something very crucial we can control: our choices.
We can’t control the outcomes of our choices, but we can control the choices we make.
This is crucial, because it gives you an “in” on life that makes everything else slightly less scary and chaotic.
Even though most things in life are not in your control such as where you were born, your family background, your physical abilities or disabilities, your looks and the way others treat you, what you decide is up to you.
Learning about how your decisions are made and the impulses and motivations that cause you to make choices a certain way gives you enormous power.
You can begin to shift your attention and decision-making accordingly and make choices that are in line with your life priorities and goals.
As Kate Douglas and Dan Jones write for New Scientist, making better decisions is very much possible! A big part of it is tuning out the noise from social pressure and outside influences.
“You may think of yourself as a single-minded individual and not at all the kind of person to let others influence you, but the fact is that no one is immune to social pressure.
“Countless experiments have revealed that even the most normal, well-adjusted people can be swayed by figures of authority and their peers to make terrible decisions.”
2) You have more power than you realize
Many of us grew up in ways that limited us.
Or we were taught that we should sit down and shut up.
We were told that to get a good job, find love and succeed in life, we should try to blend in and “fit in” society in some way.
But the truth is that you have more power than you realize.
This feeling that you can’t change your life isn’t true. But it’s hard to overcome when you’ve felt for years like you’re running an uphill race against a thousand things that are out of your control…
So how can you overcome this feeling of powerlessness?
The most effective way is to tap into your personal power.
You see, we all have an incredible amount of power and potential within us, but most of us never tap into it. We become bogged down in self-doubt and limiting beliefs. We stop doing what brings us true happiness.
I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. He’s helped thousands of people align work, family, spirituality, and love so they can unlock the door to their personal power.
He has a unique approach that combines traditional ancient shamanic techniques with a modern-day twist. It’s an approach that uses nothing but your own inner strength – no gimmicks or fake claims of empowerment.
Because true empowerment needs to come from within.
In his excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can create the life you’ve always dreamed of, and it’s easier than you might think.
So if you’re tired of living in frustration, dreaming but never achieving, and of living in self-doubt, you need to check out his life-changing advice.
3) Bad luck and tragedy is not the final word on your life
I’m not going to compare your tragedies to mine or rate your hardships in life.
None of us has the ability to truly understand someone’s life and struggles if we’re not living it.
What I do know is that years of feeling like my problems were uniquely difficult and overwhelming only isolated me more.
It made me feel like I couldn’t relate to anyone and I stewed in feelings of anger, loneliness and resentment.
Nobody gets it. Nobody gets me.
But did I get other people? Did I really know what they’d been through?
The more I realized how many core human experiences are shared by all of us, the less lonely I felt. My isolation, frustration and sadness weren’t unique to me: not at all.
The bad luck and tragedy I’d experienced wasn’t just on my shoulders, it was part of the human experience. It had the opportunity to bring me together with others, not drive me apart.
I had the chance to use loneliness and unhappiness as fuel for the fire instead of excuses for the garbage dump of victimhood.
To be frank, sometime in my late-20s the cheap wine of tragedy simply lost its appeal. I got bored of it and wanted to stop blaming myself so much and feeling so uniquely hard done by.
The band Little Big Town has a great song about exactly this called “Only What You Make Of It.”
“Gotta deal with what you’re dealt
You choose the story that you tell
Blame the world or blame yourself
Sometimes life comes at you hard
And it’s easy to let it drag you down
Yeah, I get it, it’s a mess
It’s a struggle, it’s a test
But can you find a place to rest
In a house of bitterness?
Just ’cause it ain’t what you planned
Don’t mean it ain’t what it oughta be
‘Cause it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
And you make it so hard…
Ain’t that the truth…
4) Inspiring people who overcame all the odds have succeeded before you
If there’s one thing that’s amazing about the human species it’s that it has survived this long in the first place!
The second thing is that individuals throughout history, including thousands of ordinary people we’ll never hear of, have survived situations that are unimaginable to many of us.
I’m talking about war, political and religious persecution, starvation, disease and – yes – mental illness and terrifying social collapse.
If you want to make something of your life it helps to know that inspiring people who overcame all the odds have succeeded before you.
One book which blew my mind is the true story the Long Walk (1956). It is written by former Polish prisoner of war Sławomir Rawicz. Along with others, Rawicz broke out of a soviet prison camp and trekked over 4,000 miles to gain freedom during the Second World War.
They lost people along the way, roasted snakes in the Gobi desert and endured amputation and near insanity, but some of them made it.
The sheer physical persistence to survive is incredible, and it should remind all of us that even the worst circumstances possible still have hope.
More survival stories to remind us of the will to live and thrive?
Soviet doctor Dr. Leonid Rogozov was stranded with no other doctors present at an Antarctic research station when he had a medical emergency in 1961. He realized it was his appendix and he had to do something.
“He operated on himself using his sense of touch alone.
“When he examined the appendix he’d just removed, all the signs were there — had he waited even one day longer, his appendix would have burst and he could have died.”
5) You can choose a spiritual or religious path that fulfills you
There are all sorts of ways to find a spiritual or religious path that works for you.
I recommend staying away from “gurus” and people who claim they will give you all the answers to life.
Because in this case like others, “too good to be true” is a very apt statement.
The truth about spirituality and religion is that it contains many important and growth-focused truths that can move you forward in your personal evolution.
You have the right to explore and try to find your way.
Make sure never to bow to social pressure about what you believe or just believe or disbelieve what is popular.
Stick to your path, and find your truth.
“Many believe that to find your spiritual path, one must be a follower of a certain religion or faith,” writes Natalie Bracco.
“However, this isn’t always the case – it’s still possible to find your own personal spiritual path without having to be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or even a Buddhist.
“Your spiritual journey is something that is very personal to yourself, regardless of what you believe in when it comes to everything else in life.”
6) You can build a relationship that is meaningful and intimate
I’ve struggled with relationships and finding meaningful connections that I wanted to commit to.
I think many people have!
But one thing I’ve learned is that even if you can’t control who you meet or the actions of others, you can control a key thing about your search for love..
The truth is, most of us overlook an incredibly important element in our lives:
The relationship we have with ourselves.
I learnt about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. In his genuine, free video on cultivating healthy relationships, he gives you the tools to plant yourself at the center of your world.
He covers some of the major mistakes most of us make in our relationships, such as codependency habits and unhealthy expectations. Mistakes most of us make without even realizing it.
So why am I recommending Rudá’s life-changing advice?
Well, he uses techniques derived from ancient shamanic teachings, but he puts his own modern-day twist on them. He may be a shaman, but his experiences in love weren’t much different to yours and mine.
Until he found a way to overcome these common issues. And that’s what he wants to share with you.
So if you’re ready to make that change today and cultivate healthy, loving relationships, relationships you know you deserve, check out his simple, genuine advice.
7) You can use illness as a time to focus on other goals
Being sick really sucks. It’s a time of suffering that seems out of your control.
If you have good friends and family then you might be able to look forward to some chicken soup and attention, but for most of us it just seems like a waste of time.
How are you supposed to make something of being sick if you have no energy and feel like crap?
My suggestion here is to stop looking at all the things you can’t do while sick and look at what you still can do.
Even if you have zero energy, for example, you can think of your life and start thinking of the patterns and decisions you’ve made and what they mean.
You can think of ways you can help others or write them an encouraging message from your bed at home or in hospital.
You can start thinking of ideas for a book.
You can ruminate on love and what’s gone wrong – and why.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote many of his best books while sick with tuberculosis in upstate New York at a sanatorium.
8) You can find work that’s worth doing
It’s not easy for any of us to find work that fulfills us and pays the bills.
But there are lots of opportunities out there, even during this pandemic.
The key is to think about who you are, what your talents are and what work would fulfill and expand your horizons.
What gifts do you have that you can give through work?
What does your current job offer in terms of moving forward or growing your skills?
What connections and friends do you have who could help you break through to work that would truly make you feel energized and inspired?
9) You can beat addiction and live life on your own terms
One of the top things that makes life go sideways is addiction.
This can range from addiction to work to addiction to drugs to addiction to negativity.
It’s not always in a physical form, but addiction is very real and it can loom over our lives for decades, leaving its toxic imprint on our relationships with everything around us.
And on our relationships with ourselves.
Addiction is a silent killer that ravages communities, families and individuals.
But if you can get to the root of what you’re running away from and face it, addiction can become a thing of the past.
If you can learn to laugh in the face of chaos, then its slings and arrows won’t have the same force they used to have.
You won’t feel as much need to reach for the bottle or the pills.
“Rather than some people having brains that are wired for addiction, Maté argues, we all have brains that are wired for happiness.
“And if our happiness is threatened at a deep level, by traumas in our past that we’ve not resolved, we resort to addictions to restore the happiness we truly crave.”
Find your happiness in ways that don’t damage you or others. It’s not only possible, it’s even better than sex and drugs (really!)
10) You can learn to let go of what’s not in your control
As I said at the beginning of this article, many things in life are not in our control.
The key is not to let this destroy the control you do have over your own self-development and choices.
But learning to accept when you don’t have control is just as important – or more – as learning to control what you can.
It’s part of having the necessary tools to prosper and thrive in life.
Because letting go of the attachments and things that are holding us back and keeping us trapped, addicted and stuck in old toxic patterns is a huge step forward.
We can then use that energy for other things.
“The first step to letting go is coming to a greater awareness of your attachments.
“Identify your attachments and think about how they operate in your life.
“You can then evaluate if you would benefit from shifting your mindset to embrace things in your life in their present forms, even as they change.”
What life are you making for yourself?
Now that we’ve gone over the amount of influence we can each have on our lives, it’s time to ask:
Many of us grew up in families, cultures and situations that stripped us of our power and made us feel helpless and victimized.
That’s why it’s so important to find our creative personal power and let it grow!
“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”
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