At a very young age, my life became not my own.
It was my choice, though I was unaware of it at the time. I allowed myself to be swept away in what someone else thought I should be, all the while allowing that person to dehumanize me. I spent years attempting to become what he wanted, failing time and time again. I also spent years waiting. What I realize now is that I was waiting for my life to begin, and your life can only truly begin when you know how to pursue happiness.
After college I spent the brunt of my time working at jobs I had no interest in and to which I was overqualified. My self-esteem was non-existent and I waited around for him to pursue his life while I consistently made excuses for why I couldn’t pursue my own. I’d say that the job market was bad. I’d say to myself that even though I wasn’t happy, I would be even more unhappy without him. In reality, however, I didn’t think I was good enough anything or anyone and I was scared of failure, so I didn’t try; if you don’t try something, you can’t fail, right?
What many of us forget as we get swept up in the motions of life is that we have control over our lives. Our actions, or in action, are the ways we have control; we may not control everything, but we have the power to act instead of idly making excuses for why we haven’t reached our goals. We must make things happen. No one else will or can do it for us. People always say that things will work themselves out, but the truth is that we must act to ensure they work out; things don’t happen when you do nothing.
Perhaps the most important lesson everyone should learn is this: You shouldn’t let the things you cannot control bother you; you should, however, be bothered by the things you can control and don’t. If you can control something and don’t it is because you made the choice, consciously or unconsciously, not to act. I cannot control the violence of war. I cannot control the devastation of world disasters. I cannot control the evil in the world. And I could not control the fact that the person I was with made me unhappy, no matter how many excuses I made. These are things that we shouldn’t harp on because doing so negatively impacts our lives and prevents us from acting in ways that we can; there is simply no action that I could take to change any of these things. I could, however, control the fact that I didn’t have a job I wanted, but I didn’t. I could control the fact that I was with someone who didn’t make me happy, but I didn’t. I could control my happiness, but I didn’t. These are things I could control, but I didn’t.
The truth is, as Aristotle said, each and every one of us is pursuing the same thing: happiness, i.e. the final good. Every single action we take, no matter how small, is a means to finding our ultimate happiness, which is the end goal of life. In order to be happy, however, we must take action to make it happen. This is why people act to attain money, power, love, etc. People don’t pursuit these things simply to attain them; they pursue them because they believe these things will make them happy. [Read more…]