Life, well done

Why is it that some people “do” life so badly? It seems to me that people given even the most rudimentry education, a modicum of love, and exposure to societal norms should be able to figure out how to have a good life. I am not talking about making money. Money is what puts the food on the table and clothes on one’s back. It is necessary, but not sufficient for a good life.

So what is a good life? Well, I think it starts with feeling OK. I mean truly OK, not “well, no matter what I do to others, if I am happy, it’s OK.” I mean having the sense that you are spending your time and energy on things that are good and worthwhile and enjoyable and helpful. I mean having the sense that life is an opportunity for happiness and kindness and connection with others. A person who wakes up in the morning with a natural curiosity, a measure of optimism, and plans for the future is doing life well. A person who is able to listen to others, learn from them, use his/her experiences to grow, and who is able to change– is doing life well. A person who can give without worrying about when they will receive, is doing life well.

I am constantly amazed at how many people either can’t get it right or for some reason mess it up. They get themselves into impossible situations. They overspend, drink too much, find romantic attractions outside of their marriage. They become addicted to drugs and gambling. They end up lying to their spouses and families, having no energy for family life. They cheat, they swindle, they shoplift, they shortchange. As much as they hurt others, they hurt themselves. Others will go on to have better days. Others can avoid them, but they must live with themselves.

The first step in rebuilding a life is to take responsibility for where one is at the moment. People who blame parents, spouses, society, and fate are doomed to remain where they are. Those who take responsibility for their situation then are empowered to change it. And change is possible. Debts can be repaid. Relationships can heal. Sometimes it takes some outside help, and skilled, qualified therapists can be a godsend. People can choose to change and to do life well.

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