As we grow and experience, and live and fail and rise from the depths, we’re blessed with the incurrence of some of life’s undeniable truths. I know them. You know them. We’ve been exposed to them in some form or another when we’ve acted with courage or taken risks or helped others. We don’t, however, carry them with us like tattoos on our souls like we should. They aren’t constantly on our mind pushing us to become better, experience more, or live mightier lives. They reside under the surface, hopefully grabbing our consciousness when we need them to awaken our spirits and ignite our fire.
I don’t like waiting for the reminders, though. I like to be reminded of them as I read a beautiful book or even watch a masterful movie. We’re better if we’re constantly reminded of these truths, these realities and facts of life because it’s when they’re in the forefront of our minds we’re free to take control of our lives and live them with the audacity that they require.
Bookmark this article. Save it for those times when you’re not thinking straight. Those times when you’re focused more on your fears and your worries, on the bad things that could occur rather than what is happening. There are things in life we need to know if we’re going to live our best lives. I need to be reminded of these facts to remove the self-pity and loathing that can grab our minds in our darkest hour. Hopefully this article will kick your arse back into reality.
1. You are where you’re supposed to be.
At this very moment, you are where you’re supposed to be. No matter your age, your past, or your present, this can be a new starting point if you choose it to be so. To understand this you have to let go of the natural human desire to compare. You can’t compare your life to that of another. They’re where they’re supposed to be and you are where you’re supposed to be. It is. “It” cannot change.
To live a great life as you define it you have to love where you are in life. You have to see it as both a blessing and a challenge. There are too many things to count that you can be grateful for, but this doesn’t mean you should settle. Life isn’t static, nor is your journey through it.
Where you end up isn’t going to be where you are, but it’s up to you if you end up a better person, a stronger man, a tougher man, a more successful man, or if you regress, or if you simply remain the same. Don’t wish you were somewhere else living the life of someone else. This is your life. Be thankful for where you are then work on making things better, becoming better.
Suggested reading: We are exactly where we’re supposed to be.
2. You’ll end up where you deserve to end up.
When where you end up in life isn’t dependent on extenuating circumstances or outward entities, things, your boss, the markets, your teachers or your parents, you’re given complete control over your fate. The reality is that this is the only way for a man who wants to make something of himself.
Those that believe their lives are decided by where they’re born, the limitations or obstacles they’ve been given, are relegated to a life within the confines of a predetermined fate. The truth is, your truth depends on your outlook on life and your actions. If you truly believe that you have control over where you end up in life you’re going to do everything within your power to end up as the man you want to be, living the life you want to live.
Those who aren’t of this belief won’t work as hard, they won’t take the same risks and they won’t have the same energy. Just like we don’t take the same care in spending someone else’s money, we won’t take the same care and passion living a life that we don’t feel is completely under our control.
How you view the world can either give you power or take it away. The beauty is that you have the power to choose how you view the world and your role in it. Bad things will happen to you, things that you didn’t at all deserve, but how you choose to react, whether you fight or lie down in defeat, will determine where you end up and who you become. Choose how you react with courage.
In addition to this point, try reading this article for a swift kick in the arse: Do you deserve what you want? No.
3. Pain is your friend, not your enemy.
Pain isn’t the enemy. That is, the pain of loss, or failure, or even physical pain. Without darkness we wouldn’t appreciate the light. They need one another, they feed off one another. But the darkness, the pain, the failure is where you’re given your greatest opportunity for growth. It’s in this failure that you’re given the opportunity to persist, to keep going where most other would quit.
Pain gives you the opportunity to develop toughness and grit. It’s these two qualities that enable men to become great, they enable men to do great things and reach even greater heights. It’s toughness and grit, not talent or innate intelligence, that will help you reach your potential, and to become the best you can be is all a man can do in this life. He cannot become the best someone else can be.
See the dark times in your life not as the end or a place you must remain for the remainder of your life. Understand that after the night is the day, and after your struggles there will be a place in the sun if only you persist and use this pain to grow.
Revel in your failures. Lick your chops when life throws you a curveball. This is where you find out what you’re made of, where you etch your name in the history books of life, where you claim your place in the world and plant your feet firmly, proclaiming your strength, that you’re a force to be reckoned with and no thing, no event of failure will keep you down. Understand your power, you can withstand anything.
4. A failure to risk is a failure to live.
It’s a natural thing to fear, this feeling of extending ourselves beyond what we’re comfortable with. But step back. See your life and realize that monotony is life’s greatest risk, rather, it’s not a risk but a guarantee, a sure-fire way to remain, to never grow or evolve or develop into the man you have the capacity to become, the opportunity to grow into.
To live a life confined to the things you’re comfortable with is to die before your heart fails to beat.
A failure to extend your reach beyond your grasp is to not experience life at all. We’re all given an opportunity, the same opportunity in life and yet few are truly aware of it or rise to it’s call to action. This opportunity is the obligation to become your best, to live your life to the fullest, to march toward your fears, wade into the deep waters that may try and drown you but will inevitably become a source of strength.
If you fail to follow your soul’s call to something greater, if you don’t heed this call for something more, you’re ignoring what you, the real you, the man not bound by fear or influence, your true Self, sees as life. Living, truly living, is a personal definition. It’s something we may each experience in our own way, yet few have the guts to experience it in all its wonder.
Never fail to risk. Never see risk as the dodgy option, the irresponsible choice. Risk is taking your life into your own hands with “life” being defined as your soul would define it.
Take this “risk” and live your life.
Read The Value of Risk.
5. True success comes through mastery.
Success can’t be found in a lottery ticket. It won’t be found in a slick stock purchase nor in an inheritance. Success, true success, becoming better or your best at those things that matter, can only come through mastery.
To become your best you have work, relentlessly, endlessly, and the end may never come. It shouldn’t. Life isn’t a mountain that has a climb, a peak, and then an descent. It’s purely a climb. It’s a constant ascent.
Most stop a third of the way on this ascent. They quit as the journey becomes too difficult and they become satisfied to rest and reside part of the way up the mountain. This is where the vast majority stake their claim, but this isn’t you. You want more, you deserve better.
Your ascent through life never ends because learning and growth never ends. It won’t end in your 60s or 70s, 80s or 90s. Retirement from life is a choice, but a bad one. Those who make the most out of life continue this upward ascent until they’re turned to ashes or buried in the ground. Nothing but death stops those who understand this fact about life, few take the time or have the courage to see life through the eyes of a never-ending climb filled with never-ending work.
We don’t want to see it as such. To do so would mean no end, no time to look back and lament, to lie down and wait for death. We want to relax and live in ease, but if we’re going to take advantage of this incredible blessing and great opportunity our climb to understanding and growth and grit and greatness can only cease when our hearts no longer beat.
6. You can’t control everything. And you’re going to be unhappy if you try.
Much of our worries and stresses are focused on things that are completely out of our control. The bride stresses about the weather on her wedding day, the businessman loses sleep over the markets, the athlete fears injury. Though we try to, we can’t control everything and yet we worry as if we can.
Worry is a crippling, debilitating emotion. It keeps us small. It keeps us awake, it hurts us hormonally, and destroys our health and our quality of life. And it’s something that’s completely under our control.
Removing worry from our lives starts with the simple fact that we can’t, no matter how hard we try, control everything in our lives and in trying to do so we release the control over our lives to the fears that prevent us from living.
When you find yourself worrying about something, anything, start writing. Put your fear on paper. See if it’s something you can control. If you can, take control of it, if you can’t, do what you can then leave what you can’t. You can control a lot, far more than you may realize, but to worry on those things that you have no control over is to release control of your emotions and happiness. (Suggested reading: 5 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Death)
7. You will die.
For many, death is our greatest fear. We “live” a life attempting to avoid it. We avoid everything having to do with death, with pain, with danger, and with life. Life and death are so closely connected that without one there couldn’t be the other. Without death, life would have no urgency. It wouldn’t be the precious, unpredictable and inevitably short existence that it is.
To avoid one, to fail to accept its existence or ignore its constant presence, it’s inevitability, is to avoid the other.
Not only will you die, but you are in the process of dying. With each breath taken from without the womb you’ve been counting down to the day where your life no longer exists, and accepting this fact will bring your focus and your attention directly to where it will benefit you most, the present.
It’s a futile thought process to think or to be or to live anywhere but the now. By coming to grips with our mortality we have no choice but to do our best with the time we have.
If death doesn’t give you a kick in the rear nothing will. Be close to your death. Understand that it’s lurking and rid yourself of this fear. It’s inevitable. It’s something you can’t control, and much of what we’d determine as “life” comes in death’s face. Life, excitement and joy and adventure, are experienced when we’re flirting with danger, when we’re reaching beyond our grasp, venturing far beyond our zones of comfort.
Don’t hide from the Reaper. Don’t fear the fact that you will cease to exist here on earth. Fear the idea that you could waste this beautiful gift in an attempt to avoid something that will one day occur no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Death is a constant, but living an inspired life is a rarity.
This extends, of course, to everyone else in your life. This shouldn’t bring you sadness, but urgency. It should create moments to remember, to appreciate. Moments that are yours forever. Be with the ones you love. Truly be with them. Look into them, not just at them. Listen to what they’re saying, don’t just hear their words. Tell them you love them, and live that love.
Death sucks, but we need it. We need a reminder of it daily if we’re going to live every other fact on this list. Remind yourself that you won’t be here forever, that your loved ones are mortal, and live with the passion and attention that can only come from something that doesn’t last forever.
8. To live is to fight for something greater than yourself.
Every man dies. But not every man really lives.
Walking through the fields of Stirling, Scotland, where William Wallace had one of his most infamous battles, I realized that life is something you fight for. It’s not something you do or ease into, it’s not something that occurs accidentally. Your life can’t simply have a singular focus and your days can’t be devoid of war.
Everything is a battle, and every great man fought battles for things that were far greater than their own benefit.
Jesus fought the Pharisees and a religion that had become focused on laws and rules and not on God. Robert E. Lee fought for his countrymen because he could not fight against them. Alexander fought for greatness, and Lincoln for justice. Theodore Roosevelt fought a battle in some form or another every day of his life. You should, at the very least, fight mediocrity until you find the battle that will define your life.
It’s when you’re fighting for something, an ideal, or someone, your countrymen or your family or your freedom, that your life takes on a greater meaning, and it’s meaning, value, purpose, that makes men truly happy. Happiness, true happiness, not dependent on a thing or a circumstance, is with you even when your freedom is taken from you. It’s with you when you reach life’s depths. It can’t leave you, and it has to be bound to a purpose.
Many of us find this purpose when we find something worth fighting for, or something worth fighting. We also find out who we are and who we can become. How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?
9. Neither happiness nor success can be gained through cowardice.
The man who hides from his fears cannot grow. The man who cares only for himself, who avoids helping others in danger or putting himself in harm can never have a real, deep connection with other humans. He can never truly fall in love if his life and health and safety come before those around him or those he loves.
The coward never breaths the breath of freedom that a warrior earns through battle. He cannot feel that pride that comes from having others depend on him if only for their own safety. He cannot feel the exuberance and thrill of battle, nor the excitement and adrenaline of adventure. His life can only be confined to the familiar, to monotony, to safety and ease.
He’ll never know the glory of victory nor the sting of defeat.
The coward isn’t in the arena of life, he’s merely a spectator. Are you a spectator? Ask yourself this question. Be real with yourself. I have been. There are times in my life where I sat in the stands and stayed out of the arena, where I let me fears relegate me to a small life devoid of adventure and excitement and work and pain.
Do you have the courage to change?
You do. You have it within you to extend yourself, to go beyond what you know you can do and wade into the unfamiliar waters where your soul is calling you to be. You have the capacity to live life as a warrior, you need to take that first step toward practicing this courage if you’re going to breathe the air that can only be earned by the man with the heart and the spirit and the actions of a warrior.
10. Freedom and happiness and success require discipline.
The ability to focus on a single task requires discipline, and this ability to focus on one thing will result in you completing said thing until it’s finished. Without discipline you can’t be in the present. Without discipline you can’t accomplish any great feat or deed or live a life of happiness.
It’s discipline that will help you create, it’ll help you leave your finger print on this world, your signature in the pages of history. In avoiding discipline we avoid life and happiness. The man who does nothing will be nothing. He’ll serve no purpose, provide no value, and the emptiness in his heart that results from this lack of productivity will never be quenched.
No matter where you are or what you do, do it to the best of your ability. Clean the streets as if you were Michelangelo painting the Sistine. Don’t avoid your responsibilities, don’t ignore the work you must do. Relish its existence by living a disciplined life.
The man who wants to live a life of accomplishment and not mere intent must live it with discipline.
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What else would you add to this list? What truth have you been confronted with that has both awakened you to how the world works or given you the kick in the arse you needed to make the most out of your circumstances?