Whenever I ask people what they want out of life, they tell me they want to live well. And if they could really get what they want: to experience a quality of life that surpasses the magic of fairytales.
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If possible, they’d love to wake up everyday excited about their present and enthused about their future. To wake up everyday like it’s their birthday on steroids – that it’s their best day, everyday.
Is that possible? It seems way too much to ask, at the very least naive.
Well let’s consider your best path. On it there’s all your ambitions, vision, goals, hopes, and dreams you have for all your relationships, work, recreation, health, and money.
Satisfying those would bring about your best day.
You say, Yes, but I’ve experienced enough cracks and craters, dips and depressions, on my path to know better. Sure I have hopes and dreams, sure I would like everyday to be my best day, but I’ve lived long enough to know that my path will experience minor and massive interruptions. Indeed, things that are not apart of my hopes, dreams, and ambitions will continue to interrupt my path everyday…
- A friend gossips about me
- My dad died
- The Dr. gives me a terminal report
- My kid keeps crying
- My boyfriend says “it’s not you, it’s me.”
- My car doesn’t start
- My husband is holding a secret from me
What if I told you there’s one thing that determines the quality of your life everyday. And that if you leverage it enough – until it becomes a habit – you can experience your Best Day, everyday?
I remember listening to Tony Robbins, and out of the blue he said that one’s quality of life is determined by the meaning he attaches to the facts. He said what so many greats have said before him, and I think he’s right.
So you have your path – your current vision, goals, ambitions, hopes, and dreams. And on your path are facts – your current relationship, finances, house, grades, health. Both the path and the facts are real.
So what determines how you feel and your quality of life – whether you have a frustrating day or your best day – and the trajectory of your path?
The meaning you attach to the facts.
When your path is interrupted – with facts you didn’t plan nor want – you’re in a moment of what I call, “Now what?”
Without the interruptions, you’re living your ambitions, hitting your goals, fulfilling your vision, experiencing your hopes, and living your dream – like it’s your birthday on steroids, your best days. But when an interruption comes, that’s the moment where you find the one thing that primarily determines the quality of your life.
How will you interpret the interruption? That’s your “now what” moment.
Your path will turn in the direction of the meaning you attach to the facts. For example, Fact: Got an F on a paper. Meaning: I’m a failure. Path: despair and discouragement
How you interpret the facts and what meaning you attach to them will determine how bumpy or smooth, frustrating or fun, your life path is from then on out.
Look at historical examples:
- Martin Luther King Jr. was African American, that’s a fact. Some people attached a meaning to said fact where he was supposed to feel less than human. But Dr. King chose to attach a different meaning to it. And his path led to a whole race embracing a new meaning, new path, and new prosperity.
- Mother Theresa looked at people in Calcutta – and all the facts – and attached a different meaning to them. Her path followed, accordingly.
- Nick Vujicic has no arms nor legs. Fact. He attaches a meaning to this that creates a positive experience in life. Others who experience interruptions might sit at home, eat potatoe chips, watch reruns on tv, and wallow in self pity. The difference lies in the meaning people attach to the interruptions on their path. If you’re feeling stuck with a life interruption see How to Get Unstuck.
- Jesus always took time to highlight people who attached a different meaning to the facts on their path. Specifically, any meaning that expected a better outcome than the circumstances warranted. Once, on the way to healing a 12-year-old girl who was on death’s door, he stopped for awhile to showcase another woman who displayed the kind of belief that expects better outcomes. He thought taking the time to showcase her belief was that important. Even though there was a 12-year old dying girl waiting on him!
- Walt Disney had a dream that started with a mouse and people laughed at him. He attached a different meaning and now people from all over the world experience better days at Disney. If he’d attached the meaning his mockers had, there would be no castle, haunted mansion, princesses, epcot – no Disney.
The good news is you get to choose what meaning is attached to each of the facts on your path. You don’t have to accept what others are saying.
- When Doctors give you the report, others will plant a “meaning post” on your path, saying that it means this or that discouraging or negative thing for your life.
- When Parents subtly place conditions on loving you — be a good little boy and you can have a reward – they are attaching meaning to given facts.
- When an African American teenager shows effort and enthusiasm in the class room – other races may plant a “meaning post” that indicates he’s too aggressive.
- When your “friends” tell you making millions of dollars is neither a good thing nor in the cards for you.
But why accept what others are planting on your path? It’s your path. The only one like it that will ever exist. And you get to choose whatever meaning you want to attach to the facts. So why not attach a meaning with positive expectations?
Because whatever meaning you choose, so goes your path.
- Doctors give news that you have cancer. Now what meaning will you attach to it?
- Your Coach benches you. Now what meaning will you attach to this?
- Your husband keeps a secret from you. Now what meaning will you attach to it?
- You’re unable to have children. Now what?
The quality of your life is determined by the “Now What?”
You’re going faster and further on your path than ever before and then bam! Interruption. There are the interruptions and how you choose to interpret them. It’s all about the meaning you attach to the factual interruptions on your path. The kicker is you get to choose. What you choose leads to how you feel and what you do, which ultimately determines the quality of your life, everyday.
People are going to suggest meanings – culturally accepted ones – for the factual interruptions on your path. When you choose meanings with positive expectations – especially in light of scary interruptions — they will laugh at you. Maybe mock you.
I say pick up their unwanted “meaning posts” and throw them off your path. Not on my path, you say. Better days are headed my way. Days that are like my Birthday on steroids!
You want positive results on your path? Results always follow the meaning you attach to the factual interruptions on your path. And you have those interruptions everyday. In those times, what will you believe? Find a meaning with a better outcome. Find a meaning that gives you a quality of life that surpasses the magic of fairytales.
Everyone’s path gets interrupted. Your vision, goals, ambitions, love, laughter, hopes, and dreams get interrupted. Everyday. And when that happens, ask yourself…