Often I see posts or articles saying, “Ten Things You Shouldn’t Do…” or “Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say…” or “Ten Ways to NOT…” this or “Ten Ways to NOT…” that, but you know one I have yet to see? One where a person writes ten things THEY are going to do to improve their lives or better themselves. It’s no big secret that people have no problem telling everyone else what they need to do, but quite frankly, are cowards when it comes to what THEY need to do with THEMSELVES and how they can make their own lives better.
The reason I believe it’s so difficult for them to look in the mirror at themselves is because they’re not worried about seeing their faces; they’re worried about seeing their character. As “ugly” as some people are when it comes to their character, it’s no wonder they’re afraid to look at themselves before looking at everyone else and why it’s much easier for them to hide behind the flaws of others so they aren’t forced to see their own. So of course, when all these articles telling people what NOT to do and say come out, this is a great excuse for them to cover up their flaws by jumping all over someone else’s.
Of course, those flaws are still there…but as usual, you can’t tell some people anything.
I have a very GREAT life. Of course, people with pitiful lives will question whether I’m telling the truth, but I’m not on trial here. I don’t need a single person to believe me and even if I did, I have more proof that I am telling the truth than they have that I’m NOT. So that’s dismissed. I enjoy my life very much. I have a wonderful wife I’ve been married to for more than 15 years and we have two amazing children, currently ages 9 and 6. I have been blessed to enjoy a career of more than 17 years as an Army soldier and I have the option to retire with a pension beginning immediately in less than three. I’m even saying that as I’m still in Afghanistan and have been for 6 1/2 months. I’m also following my dream to be a teacher once I’m done with the Army along with an even more difficult dream of becoming a career screenwriter. I am 35 years old and I have my health. I mean, my goodness…isn’t that enough?
Notice that I didn’t mention any material possessions in there. That’s because they’re not important. They’re fun, they’re entertainment and it’s VERY nice to get them once I’ve worked hard and saved up for them, whether it’s a car, a house or whatever else, but you see what’s most important in my life.
As for this “mirror” challenge that most people will likely ignore, I got to where I am today because I spend more time working on MYSELF and improving my own life rather than telling everyone else what they need to do. Even though I do mention things like that (often on my Facebook timeline), I never say more to others than I say to myself when it comes to becoming a better person.
I am not afraid to look in the mirror at myself first. That’s the only person I have real control over; not everyone else. Funny to me how people always think they have that control over everyone else, but they don’t work on themselves and like me, that’s the ONLY person they have control over. Yet, their lives aren’t where they’d like them to be and they wonder why.
Stop racking your brains. If you spend all your time on everyone else’s flaws instead of working on your own, there’s your answer. Problem solved.
Here’s the thing I wish people were mature enough to understand. Having flaws does NOT make you a bad person. We ALL have them. So hiding from your own only makes you look worse, especially when you spend all your time on everyone else’s. There’s also nothing wrong with working on yourself to become a better person.
YOUR life doesn’t get better because of what everyone else does or doesn’t do. It’s like this…you spend all your time telling others what to do and then other people come up and you do the same thing. Over and over and over and over this goes on, yet the flaws you KNOW you have and in some cases, the ones that hinder you and your own progress you ignore and your life just stays in the miserable “can’t understand where I went wrong” state.
The bottom line is that only when you work on yourself does your life become better. Period.
Here is the challenge. Name TEN things you’re going to do to improve YOUR OWN life or maintain certain good things about yourself. Remember, maintaining is a good thing too, depending on what it is.
As for the flaws, don’t use things like, “I’m going to avoid stupid people.” I always find that to be tacky. You call them stupid, they call you stupid and the next thing you know, you’ll both be saying that the other has cooties. Grow up. You’re adults. If you’re going to say that, what makes them “stupid” and what exactly is it about them that you want to avoid? Then again, that’s not improving YOURSELF, not is it?
Work on YOU and YOU alone. That’s the whole idea. Not that hard to understand, right?
I’ve reached where I am today with some help from others, yes, but also, because I always look at improving myself EVERY day. Even if I’m already good at something, there’s no reason I can’t tell myself to maintain or look to get even better.
So, here are MY ten:
1. I will continue to say “Please” and “Thank You,” no matter who I’m talking to. I don’t need for other people to say it back. This is MY personality, not theirs. They don’t have to do the same thing.
2. I will continue to be thankful when waking up to see each new day. Everyone does not wake up every day. Hiding from that fact doesn’t change it. God can take me out in my sleep at ANY time with no warning and no explanation. Each day He does not is reason enough to be thankful.
3. I will write every day. Fellow writers, this BETTER be ones of yours, too!! I say that with nothing but love and compassion. It doesn’t have to be 10 pages. Even if it’s notes on what writing you will continue to do, character descriptions for a book, or even an outline, that still counts as writing. As for me being an aspiring screenwriter, if I am not writing every single day, I am wrong. Period.
4. I will do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I will start off treating people as I would like to be treated. Yes, this becomes difficult when the people I’m dealing with become difficult, but again…MY personality, not theirs. I’m not exactly new to all this. I will stay true to who I am even when dealing with difficult people.
5. I will look EVERYWHERE for opportunities to keep learning. I don’t know everything. Not even close. There are opportunities to learn all over the place and I will keep my eyes open for them. It could be in conversations, books, situations, etc…EVERYWHERE. There’s no telling when these lessons will come in handy. Even if not for me, I could be helpful to those around me.
6. I will stop being hard on myself when I do something wrong. Most of the time, it’s really not that bad or serious, but I find that I beat myself up SO much when something I do isn’t perfect or when I let someone down who is close to me. I have to understand that things happen and as long as I’m truly remorseful, things will be okay. Most of the time, remorse isn’t even needed, but there’s usually opportunities to improve or fix whatever went wrong. I need to put my focus there rather than on punishing myself for what I failed to do or NOT do.
7. I will not change my personality or character based on how others treat me. Sometimes, this one is difficult, but there is no excuse whatsoever for me to change who I am based on how others treat me. That shows a total lack of thinking for myself. I have my own character and my own personality and just because someone is a jerk toward me is no reason to decide that I’m going to “show everyone” by becoming a jerk myself. So the very thing I didn’t like from that person is what I’m going to become? That makes no sense. Not to mention, not everyone is this way. I’m not going to allow people to change my personality and my character. I’m the one who has control over that, not them.
8. I will not follow trends and I will also take the road less traveled. Following trends may be easier and popular, but that also guarantees that I will make it only as far as everyone else. I don’t want to be only as far as everyone else. I want to make it MUCH further. That requires me to do as I’ve done for most of my life and take the road less traveled. Only then will I achieve what I would like to achieve. Sitting around and following what others are doing, since most people really aren’t looking to achieve much, won’t get me anywhere near where I’m try to go.
9. I will keep in mind those less fortunate before I start complaining about “first world” nonsense. Yes, I could find reasons to complain all day, every day. But most of the time, that “problem” is temporary, could be fixed, or won’t kill me. There are people fighting REAL battles EVERY DAY. Being in Afghanistan should make that even more clear to me. That’s not to say that I don’t have the right to complain, but whining about things that are temporary when others are going through fights that are not is silly and unnecessary. I have it much better than many and I need to keep reminding myself of that before I act as though the world is over every time something doesn’t work out for me. I’ve gotten to where I am dealing with problems like that, so I need to just continue doing so.
Last, but not least:
10. I need to not be ashamed to enjoy my life and what comes with it. While I understand that other people are going through things, that doesn’t mean I need to stop enjoying my own life. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and there’s NO good reason I can’t enjoy the results of that hard work. It’s one thing to have sympathy for others and what they’re going through, but it’s another to feel like I’m not allowed to enjoy my own life. I have no obligation to those people, nor do I owe them anything. There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of people feeling sorry for them and I have to continue to remind myself that I am not in the position to feel sorry for everyone who isn’t doing better than they are. The cold truth is that not everyone is struggling against their will. Many are by choice. You make certain choices and you end up where you are, plain and simple. I made the choices to end up where I am and there is NO reason I cannot or shouldn’t enjoy that.
As I said in the title, don’t hit “share” all at once, now. I know a few of my intelligent friends will read this, but for the most part, many won’t because the nerves I’ve struck will be theirs. Doesn’t matter to me one bit. It’s as I said…I got to where I am NOT following the crowd and looking at MYSELF before I look at anyone else. My character is what it is because I’m always looking to become a better person, not make excuses on why it shouldn’t happen. There really is no excuse for anybody, but freedom of choice, right? Well, I’m using that same “freedom of choice” to put all this down.
The great thing about this “challenge” is that you don’t even to donate money!! But I’ll bet a lot of people would STILL rather reach for that ice bucket than to look at and better themselves.