Thursday, January 29, 2009

Perspectives: learning to live life

“May you live all the days of your life.” –Jonathon Swift

I discovered this quote a while ago, and found it amusing. My first thought was, “How absurd!” And yet, how many of us are really living our lives? This begs the question, “What does it mean to live life?” The following are some of the ways in which we could live life more fully:

Focus on the delightful aspects of life
In general, we focus on the negative. I hate to say it, but there it is. When someone criticizes or dislikes you, do you think about it, feel bad about it, and really let it sink in and make you miserable? And yet, when someone compliments or encourages you, is one of the following your first thought?

Can they mean it?
Maybe they’re just being nice.
They don’t know what they’re talking about.
I can’t believe they would say something that nice about me.
It can’t possibly be true.
Compliments are awkward.

Why is it that we feel guilty for accepting the praise of others, and must continually focus on the negative? I think part of it is our selective acceptance of what others tell us. If we believe negative things about ourselves, and someone praises us, we measure their praise by our own opinions of ourselves; thus, no matter how many nice things people bother to say to us, we disprove their words as false. On the other hand, if someone criticizes us, confirming our already held negative opinions, it is easy to accept their words as true.

The next time someone praises or compliments you, think about it, accept it, and let it sink in.

Throw out the mindset that life is just one big competition
Many of us subconsciously go through life thinking of it as one big competition. We feel the need to better than other people. If we can’t be better than some people, we can at least be “not as bad” as others. Jim Palmer, one of my all-time favorite authors, has said, “Abiding in love allows me to see the success of others as an inspiration rather than a threat.” I think he has a point. When others succeed, our immediate thought is to measure their success to our own. We don’t have to.

Stop thinking of everything as one big competition.

Be ambitious
Most of us want to accomplish great things. Some of us even want to do something with our lives. Some of us are held down by fear, while others simply have no motivation to get anywhere. Force yourself to do the things that you don’t want to do, but that you know will help you accomplish your goals. Instead of saying, “I’m really not ambitious,” become ambitious.

Do something.

Stop expecting failure
We constantly go into things expecting failure. If you could accomplish or be anything you wanted, what would you choose? Whatever came to your mind, is there anyone doing it? Have they always been doing it? And how did they get there? You see, most of the time, we don’t give up halfway through. We give up before we even start.

Don’t rule out the impossibilities.

Don’t fear new experiences
We get fairly comfortable in our lives, and there comes a point when we don’t want to go anywhere. We fear new experiences because we might not like them, but as someone has said, “At the end of this life, we will regret more the things that we didn’t do than the things we did.”

Try something new

Stop letting diversity scare you
We want friends who agree with us, have the same goals, look the same way, and are of the same social class. Diversity=scary. If we were all plucky enough to be friends with weirdos, we would find that many of them are awesome.

Enjoy diversity.

Have some confidence
It has been observed that the people who start out thinking of themselves as losers turn out to be losers. Those who see their potential become successful. Have a healthy confidence without arrogance.

Be confident about yourself.

Throw out your insecurities
When we constantly worry about what others think of us, and need frequent support from friends, it hinders our living of life.

Stop worrying about what people think of you: have fun.

Be a non-conformist
Conformity is that feeling that we must not be our unique selves; hence, we conform to those around us. This ultimately results in self-dissatisfaction and the desire to be someone we’re not meant to be.


  1. Amy, have I mentioned that you are awesome? :-)

  2. so true...
    But it is nice to find someone like us who isn't meaning to be! :-) I have a friend who is my replica, and we get along splendidly; but we don't mean to be like each's sooo cool.:-)
    A total non-conformist post.

    How did you come up with the blog name anyways?
    t.n.c. (the non-conformist)
    tawney rae