Be Stubborn, Be Optimistic, And Never Settle
(a swift kick to the butt to get your life moving)
One of the greatest moments in my life was when I hypostatized the following sentence:
There is no “right” or predestined path to this life, no right or wrong way—there’s only your way.
As insecure creatures of emotion, we seek guidance. We hate not knowing which way we should go – we want to be led. We want someone to tell us what’s the best way to live our lives and what decisions are going to lead to the happiest and most fulfilling outcome.
I’m here today to say: That’s dumb.
There is no “right way. There is no one “best” way either. Yet, so many try to tell us what is. We turn to our teachers, leaders, parents–trying to find answers, wanting to be led.
For most of my life, I’ve turned to people I trust for guidance – which isn’t a bad thing. But the problem was, I was turning more to others for guidance than I was to myself. I was scared to mess up. Scared to make the “wrong” decision and go down paths I would regret. This fear crippled me. It scared me into following, using other’s opinions as my crutch instead of inspiring me to lead, using my own confidence as a beacon.
Whenever a life-altering decision arose, I would turn to those who had “it all figured out”: brothers, parents, friends, etc. I asked them what they would do in my situation and why.
Consequently, this led me down paths that were not my own. Paths that I chose because they were the “smartest” or the “best” decision – not because they were my decision. Before I knew it, I looked up and realized I was living a life that I didn’t want. A life that was built on the opinions and experiences of others. A life that I could no longer live.
You see, we fear making decisions for ourselves. We fear it because we don’t trust ourselves. We have this deep insecurity of our own ability to make the “best” decision that will lead to the “best” possible outcome, so we rely on the wisdom of others – thinking they, somehow, have figured it out.
The biggest turning point in your life, in my opinion, is when you figure out that life, everything surrounding us: our jobs, hobbies, families, government..everything…is made up by people no smarter than you.
It’s undeniably true.
And if you doubt it, then you still have that deep insecurity and need to rid yourself of it.
Here’s the inevitable truth: If you rely on other people’s wisdom and opinions to guide your decision, you will end up living a life you don’t like. You will be dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and feel like there is something missing in your life…because there is something missing…
YOUR TRUE DESTINY.
Not some destiny that was predetermined by God or some higher being or whatever (I feel God doesn’t have anything “predestined” for us but lets us shape our own lives as the free agents we are).
No, I’m talking about YOUR destiny. And destiny is not the right word either. Destiny means you’re dependent on some external force to shape your future. Life IS what you make it. Literally. You are the master and commander of your ship, you are the shaper of your life, your future.
This doesn’t sound like anything novel, I know. But the point I’m trying to make is.
Once you realize that you are in control, once you realize that the absolute best person to rely on for knowing the best decisions that will lead to the best outcomes is yourself, you will tap into an inner confidence that will empower everything in your life. More importantly, you will live a life you are satisfied with.
I think one of the greatest problems people face–in our cushy 1st world lives–is dissatisfaction. We are dissatisfied with nearly everything, always wishing we had more, always wishing we had better…
And I’m going to be the heretic to say, I don’t think mere gratitude is the solution. Now I’m all for changing our mindset to change our lives. But we need to grab life by the horns and tackle this problem with some real force, not just nebulous solutions like thinking in a different way.
I think the real solution is to stop following, to stop relying on other people’s opinions, to stop settling, and to stop believing what everyone tells us. Rise up, take your position at the helm of your ship, and live the life you want. The life you really want. Stop compromising.
You see, when you make a decision because it’s your idea, you want it, and you’re excited about it, that decision will become the right decision. You will inherit an inner strength and an unwavering confidence that will lead you to the best possible outcome. No other way will you get there. If you’re doing it because your dad told you to or your professor or whoever, you will wobble, stumble, and doubt the whole way there—with whatever you’re trying to achieve.
If you want something, you CAN get it, you CAN achieve it, you CAN do it because YOU WANT IT.
That’s the secret.
Take on the best and strongest character trait of the greats like Einstein, M.L.K., Beethoven, Gandhi, and so many more… stubbornness.
Not the ignorant stubbornness, but optimistic stubbornness. The type of attitude that ignores the voices of doubt, pessimism, and common “reason”. The type of stubbornness that confronts the impossible and sees opportunity. The type of stubbornness that’s told “you can’t” and hears opportunity. The type of stubbornness that experiences failure and knows it’s an opportunity.
And this “optimistic stubbornness” is only inherited by following your own path, your own inner voice.
It’s what you must have to trudge through the muck and mud of the pessimistic opinions of this world in order to live a life you’re satisfied with.
The only “right” path or “best” path for you to take in this life is the path that you, and only you, create. It’s the story that you tell yourself. So make a story that feels right and a story that you’re excited to live. That’s it.