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Dr. Ingersoll Lectures

How to Take Back Control of Your Life

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: RBerteig

Old age is no place for sissies.

— Bette Davis

Have you noticed?  Every field of endeavor has a list of things that we need to do in order to be living correctly.  Finance, health, career, parenting.  If you look, you can find at least one list of the “correct” way to invest, be healthy, create a wonderful and fulfilling career, and best of all, how to raise perfect children.  To make sure that you have all the options, there’s never just one approach.  There are conflicting approaches.  Then, if something isn’t working the way you want, you can decide that you’ve just been following the wrong approach and change horses.

In my last post, I wrote about how we sometimes get disillusioned in making resolutions.  It has become an exercise in “shoulds”.

  • I should lose weight.
  • I should exercise more.
  • I should save more.
  • I should spend quality time with my children.
  • I should eat healthier.
  • I should live according to the consensus of others around me.

I think that sometimes we just get worn out with all the expectations that are put on us by a society that has figured out how to live “right”.

None of us do them all, which gives the experts reasons why it is that we’re unhappy or poor or lonely or sad or have imperfect children.

The thing is that all this advice is built on an assumption that if we just do things right, life will be happy and worry free.  We’d be able to live happily ever after.

To Dream the Impossible Dream

The thing is that there is no happily ever after.  There are times of great happiness and times of great struggle.  And it is all out of our control.

Maybe that’s the biggest problem we face.  There’s no way to bargain ourselves out of the not so good back into the good.  We can’t predict or control it – and that makes it harder.

All of these “shoulds” in our lives contribute to the idea that if we just live the right life, do what everyone says we should, then there will be no struggle, no trials and tribulations.  It just ain’t true.

There is no happily ever after.  It is an impossible dream.

Trouble Happens – Accept It

The illusion that if we just do the right stuff, then we’ll be thin or healthy or happy or popular or trouble free is just that – an illusion.  And although some illusions are Ok, when we buy into the illusion that we can control life if we just do all the right stuff, we make ourselves responsible for the bad stuff that happens to us.

And that’s a huge burden to carry.

Trouble happens.  None of us are totally in control of our lives.  We do what we can to protect ourselves, but there are situations that we just can’t control.  And when something happens, it may have just been really bad luck.  Blaming ourselves doesn’t help.

Through no fault of your own you may be laid off.  If before you go out and look for a job you spend weeks beating yourself up because you must have done something wrong or you wouldn’t have been laid off, you waste time and you dig a pit that you’ll eventually need to climb out of.  There’s no denying that you probably weren’t planning to have to find another job.  But that’s where you are so deal with it.

Sometimes bad luck is just bad luck.

God/the world/the government aren’t out to get you.  Everyone faces challenges in their lives and this is just your current challenge.  Accept it as the challenge it is – and get moving.

Attitude Matters

Why am I focused on this right now?  I’ve noticed that a fair number of us seem to have developed a new form of competition – whining.  We compete to have the saddest, worst, most awful story to tell.

The result is that we get discouraged, and discouragement can be dangerous.

Think about your reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting.  Wasn’t that just awful?  Yes.

Do you personally know anyone involved?

Is there anything that you can do?  Do it.  And then MOVE ON.

  • Deciding that as you get older, things get worse, makes things worse – for you.
  • Deciding that technology moves too fast and you can’t keep up, keeps you back.
  • Withdraw.  Become more alone, and soon, you’ll feel overwhelmed by everything.

This is how we get old.  We expect that somehow our life will be different.  We expect that we should get happily ever after.  We get discouraged because we never got happily ever after.

It’s time to go out and grab what we want.  When we were younger, we enjoyed proving that we had the stuff to succeed.  We didn’t need happily ever after, we’d make our own happiness.

We did it before.  Let’s do it now!

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