“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I read this quote I think about individuality. I think about what is good for me, what I want, where I want to go, and what I want to do with my life. I think this is a common thread of thought for most. We all contemplate what tomorrow will bring and how to improve our circumstances.
Individuality is something I have come to embrace. I like doing what I want. Making choices that I truly think about making, rather than being convinced by some outside source about what I should be doing, what I ought to buy, where to live, how to speak, and all the rest. Society tries to make us conformists.
Conformity must be attained for any semblance of order. We all know that certain acts are unlawful or frowned upon. We all know that certain types of language are intolerable. What I’m referring to here is the ability to think for oneself. The ability to act with autonomy. The ability to make choices that are informed by individual curiosity and research. The ability to live one’s life without too much outside interference or influence.
If you take a moment and examine your life, think about the things you do unconsciously. Are they truly your choice or are you acting in a way that others “expect” you to? Look at the things you own. Do you really use these things or are they sitting in a corner collecting dust? Do you exercise, learn, contemplate because you want to or someone else has told you to?
Are there things you would like to do with your life that you avoid because of outside pressures? Are there goals you would like to pursue but afraid to because of the social backlash? I think what I’ve been discussing here is what Emerson is talking about.
I choose to pursue the goals I want to because I want to. I live the life I do because I have begun to realize that reality is not worth fighting with. I have gained a great amount of peace in my life because I have learned to accept reality—the things I cannot affect or change. There are things in our lives like the weather and the actions of other people that we have ZERO control over. Why fret over these things?
I have mentioned this a few other times in my various blog postings but it merits repeating. Stop worrying about the things you cannot control and focus on controlling the things you can control. You can control your attitude. You can control how you react to outside circumstances. You can control what you focus your time and effort into. These sentences all start with you because you are all you have control over.
If you focus on you, you will be more effective. If you focus on reacting less to outside circumstances and more on an internal character you will be more effective. You cannot control what other people do. In fact, you will be wasting your time in most cases. I’m not talking about your children. You must exert some control over them while you guide and teach them to thrive in life as they approach adulthood. What I am talking about is your peers, your adult relatives, anyone who can do something for themselves but chooses not to.
You cannot motivate other people to do something that they really do not want to. You cannot help a friend get in shape who refuses to exercise or eat right. You cannot help a loved one who is suffering from health issues because they drink and smoke. You cannot help a loved one pass an exam in their degree program if they do not want to do the work. You cannot change a bad boss or a bad employee or a bad friend. The only thing you can do is to accept these people for who they are and focus on yourself. Sometimes people will see you and be affected. They will say to themselves, “I’d like to be like her. She is so organized. She is in such great shape. She seems so together all the time.”
I’m not advising you to be aloof and cold. If a friend or relative approach you for help—give it to them. What I’m talking about is the active attempt to try and change someone—change someone for their own good. This is where you’ll get into trouble. You’ll get into trouble because your motivation to get in shape or learn or pursue goals isn’t their priority. Do not interfere with someone’s life unless you are asked for help. They are individuals too and the choices they make for themselves are their responsibility—not yours. Worry about yourself. Pursue the things you want to pursue. Trailblaze a path that is unique to your aspirations and interests.
Focus your efforts on you. Focus on what you can control. Pursue the things that are interesting to you and motivate and inspire you. Just be yourself and ignore the pressures outside of you.
Until next time…