Monday, August 08, 2005

This Isn't the Life I Ordered!

So there's two fundamental perspectives on how we end up with the lives we have. One is that "life is something that happens to you; it's largely beyond your control." And the other is "life is something you create; you are responsible for the life you currently have." I don't buy the first one. That's probably no surprise--after all, I wouldn't be a life coach if I believed the level of richness and fulfillment in our lives was beyond our control.

But though I don't agree with it, I do understand the first perspective. For all of us, every day holds a LOT of circumstances that are beyond our control. We get sick. We hit traffic. We get pressure from the boss. Our child struggles with behavioral problems. We break a leg. We don't get the promotion. And yada yada yada we all know the drill. But (and it's a big but) not being able to control your circumstances is not the same thing as not being able to control the quality and richness of your life. Why? Because the quality of life isn't measured by what happens to us externally...but rather by how we choose to respond to and dance with those external "beyond our control" events. How you respond to your circumstance, what you create from what you are given, is totally up to you. And it's in your response that the rich, full life you were made for is created or denied.

So, pushing circumstance aside for a moment, let's assume the second perspective is actually correct...that you created the life you are currently living. Think about the current level of stress in your life. The current level of fun or joy. The current degree of busyness. Assuming you have (either intentionally or inadvertantly) created all of this--why do you suppose you designed your life the way it is now? What are getting out of it? What is the big benefit to you? I promise, there are some powerful pay offs present for you, or else your life would be different.

For example, let's say your life is a flurry of activity. Your brain typically goes 90 to 100 mph and you spend your day zipping like a humming bird from one thing to another. You often feel overwhelmed and wonder why your life is so hectic. -- You could say that "hectic" is the water you swim in. Why do you suppose you are choosing to swim in that particular pool?

Or maybe you are a stress junkie. Work, wife, baby, car, bills, church duties, neighborhood duties, yard work, and so on and so on. Perhaps on some level you hate being so stressed, and yet something about it sucks you in--again and again, like a drug habit you can't quite kick. What is all this stress doing for you? What's the pay off?

If you are not quite living the rich, full life you want...or are even living a completely different life from the one you want, look to the thing (the payoff, the fear of..., the "rush") that is fueling your decision to create the life you have. Naming that payoff (or those payoffs) is the key to understanding how you got where you are, and (even better) how to move from where you are to where you want to be.