This was me in my mid-20’s: mad and miserable.
It’s not that I wanted to feel down at all, because I didn’t.
I hated the fact that I’d wake up in the morning dreading the day. When the motivation to go to work just wasn’t there, I’d literally spend the entire day binge-watching something on TV to numb out.
I was supposed to be living a vibrant, exciting life in the prime of my years, but that’s not at all what I was experiencing.
Rather, I was depressed, anxious, and living week to week working a warehouse job with very few friends.
I was stuck in a negative cycle and had no idea how to get out.
And it was all my own fault.
My wholly unhelpful attitude
I knew I had to try to get myself out of this funk.
At first, I started watching those inspiring videos that people posted on social media and I’d have a moment or two of motivation.
But it didn’t last.
I’d repeat some mantra for a day and then forget about it. Or go walk in nature to try to gain some peace, only to find my monkey mind just kept turning with “life sucks” kind of thoughts.
To put it bluntly, I was unhappy and completely underachieving. I felt like my life had virtually no meaning and my biggest fear was that I’d die that way – miserable and purposeless.
The thing is that it wasn’t my circumstances or challenges that were weighing me down, it was my unhelpful attitude towards them.
Taking responsibility for my life
I had finally hit my breaking point and decided that I had to do some things different in my life.
This decision to buck up and start a new journey was a pivotal point for me. I drew a line in the sand and said, “No more!”.
What I did was twofold:
- I made a firm decision and commitment to start taking full responsibility for my life
- I started taking positive actions each day toward a better life.
This led me to become more of a seeker rather than a victim. An advocate of my own happiness level rather than playing the “victim” role. I was realizing that in order to break free from this cycle of negativity, I had to get serious.
I also had to take positive action.
In other words, no one was going to come rescue me. Because only victims can be rescued.
I had to put my “work boots” on and get busy working on me.
The greatest book you’ve probably never read
Why did I finally decide to take responsibility for my life, after years of playing the blame game?
The kick starter for me was an epic book called, Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
The book details Frankl’s experience as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner, and his incredible ability to adopt a positive mindset in such atrocious circumstances.
I gobbled the book up. The man and his resilience were incredible.
I thought, “If Viktor can find meaning for his life among such tragic circumstances, there’s no reason I can’t”.
Reading this, along with some Buddhist philosophy, helped me get clear in some areas of my life.
The biggest takeaway I was getting was that I had to rise up and take full responsibility for my life. I had to stop blaming my past. I had to stop blaming the world, my job, my monkey mind, other people – everything!
I had to learn how to do the inner healing work to begin healing negative emotions I’d stuffed or rejected over the years.
Most importantly, I had to learn how to adopt a different mindset.
Perspective is everything
In his groundbreaking book, Viktor Frankl used his experiences as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp to try to understand how men and women react to adverse situations.
His findings give us all a greater understanding of how we can live our lives and take greater responsibility.
Upon arrival at the camp, Frankl realized that he had the power to decide how to respond to the terrible situation he was in. He soon became conscious of the fact that his chances of survival rested on his ability to acknowledge this situation and his response moving forward.
He knew that he was in complete control of his responses and decisions. No matter what else came his way, no matter how awful the conditions or his treatment by the guards, by turning inwards and focusing on his responsibility, he was able to survive the ordeal.
Many people try to find their life’s meaning first, before they undertake new responsibilities or decisions.
However, Frankl believed that it is only through your actions and responses that you can find the meaning to your life. It is unique to you.
There is no general meaning to life. We can create and change our meaning at will.
In a situation as awful as Frankl and his fellow prisoners, he was able to understand that blame had no place in the camp. Focusing on his internal state of mind, rather than the external factors that were at play, meant he could survive.
Even when working shoeless in the snow to build a train line, Frankl was able to picture his wife in his mind and focus on the love he had for her, rather than the conditions he was faced with.
He took responsibility for his reaction to the pain he felt, turning it upside down and into something good.
Creating forward momentum
Taking responsibility for my life was great and necessary, as was changing my perspective of the challenges I faced.
But there was something else I had to do: take concrete action and create forward momentum.
What do I mean by this?
If your car broke down and you had to push it to the side of the road, the toughest part would be getting it to start rolling. That’s where you’d expend the most energy. Once it started rolling, that momentum would work in your favor.
It’s the same way when we want to make changes in our lives. To get the ball rolling, I started putting forth effort every day. Even if it was a little bit of effort, like waking up and declaring, “This is going to be a good day”, I did it.
For me, taking action and creating momentum meant that I read inspirational literature, especially Buddhist teachings. And I applied these teachings every day, including letting go of my attachments, practising mindfulness, and meditating.
I made the effort even when it was hard. Even when I didn’t feel much like doing it.
Did I ever have a bad day?
Sure. Life’s journey isn’t always a rose garden.
However, I learned a set of skills that would help me get through those days without falling back into old habits that didn’t serve me.
And you can learn these tools too. You can use them in your own life to create the kind of life you truly desire. Skills like:
When you consistently implement these into your life, you’ll be quite pleased at how your life turns around.
The thing is, the more I grew personally, the less inner pain I experienced. And the fewer bad days cropped up.
The birth of Hack Spirit
Over time, the growth work I was doing was paying off.
I began experiencing more peace and joy. I felt more purposeful. I cultivated great relationships with friends and family.
Through a lot of studying, I became an expert on practical psychology and personal development.
It became my passion!
I also created Hack Spirit, a website that helps millions of people around the world make radical shifts in their own lives. We are now one of the largest media sites on mindfulness and practical psychology for everyday living.
Today, I can honestly say I love my life and enjoy the opportunity to show up in a way that encourages others to take the reign of their own lives.
And if there is one thing I’d like everyone to know, especially if they are struggling like I was 6 years ago, is that the only way forward is to take complete responsibility for everything in your life.
Introducing Why Taking Responsibility is Key To Being the Best You
Several years ago, I was speaking with my brother, Justin. He happens to be the founder of Ideapod, a popular ideas-sharing and publishing platform.
We agreed: Taking responsibility for your life is the most powerful attribute you can possess in life.
So, we decided to co-produce an eBook on taking responsibility where we would outline everything we knew about personal responsibility and taking ownership of your life.
The result was Why Taking Responsibility is Key to Being the Best You.
Not surprisingly, this has turned into Ideapod’s best selling eBook.
Here we offer the tools and techniques you need to develop new habits of personal responsibility. This unique and highly practical eBook provides a blueprint to getting the most out of life in the most powerful and sustainable way possible.
Click here to check out the eBook.
Who is this eBook for?
Ideapod’s eBook, Why Taking Responsibility is Key to Being the Best You, is perfect for people who:
- Have obstacles and challenges in life that they struggle to overcome
- Have goals in life they never seem able to achieve
- Want to take charge of their life rather than being a bystander.
Life isn’t always kind or fair, but courage, perseverance, honesty—and ultimately personal responsibility—are the only ways to overcome the challenges that life throws at us.
Although many of us may think we take responsibility, it is a skill that has to be learned and developed—even by people who have achieved success. Now, in this highly motivating new eBook, we give you the strategies you need to stare down your challenges and seize control of your future.
By the end of this eBook, you will develop the unshakable confidence to:
- Tackle any challenge
- Overcome any obstacle
- Successfully navigate the fallout of any kind of crisis
- Take chances and embrace life.
Above all, this eBook will convince you that taking responsibility for our lives actually gives us greater power, provides boundless opportunities to grow, and helps us discover values that are truly important to us.