What Goes Into Making a Good Life?


What does it mean to know your own way? It sounds simple enough, to choose a life path that take us where we want to go while hopefully bringing the experiences we need. But who in the world knows what those are?

We’re led around by our desires and dropped into situations that challenge our ability to survive, much less extricate ourselves from them with grace and style and still get where we want to go.

While our inner voice may lead us to whatever experiences our souls need, at an egoic level we’re left with more practical concerns, like building a life that works for us.

The Making of a Life

What goes into making such a life? Getting along with others comes to mind. So does survival, if not actual prosperity. Finding a life path that fulfills us wouldn’t hurt, either. Neither would pursuing our passions, being creative, and even being heard.

Being loved would be nice, too. And having someone to love, too, as well as family to accept you no matter what you do or become. Getting along with others is high on the list also.

Finding a little peace and happiness along the way would probably be welcome, too. Let’s not forget about making a contribution to the world, either.

Oh, yeah. Being healthy is real important, too. And maybe even having a relationship with whatever god we know inside.

So many things go into making a life. And the problem is, there’s no rule book. We’re left to figure it out as we go along.

How you do that is the “your way” we refer to in “Know your own way.” And the thing about it is, I’m not sure any of us have it down so well that we can say there’s a right or wrong way to go about it.

Sure, we’ve got the 10 Commandments and Jesus’ teachings on love, not to mention those of Buddha and the many other spiritual masters of the past. But when push comes to shove, those rules sort of take a back seat to expediency and self-interest.

So I guess the big question is, how is it that we decide what’s in our best interests and make the choices of our lives? How do we determine what we’ll do as we encounter each of the situations above, or when we’re forced to engage those who would drag us down?

This art of living is something we piece together as we go along, drawing on what we learn at home, church or school, as well as how we adapt to the demands of getting by in the world.

Life Management Skills

In looking at myself and listening to the inner voice that’s been leading me through all this, I realize that much of what I am comes not from my spiritual or metaphysical understandings, but from what I’ve gathered as I’ve gone through this process of life.

From these I’ve developed an appreciation for the skills and attributes that have helped me along the way. What kind?

  • Knowing myself and what’s going on inside me;
  • Awareness of the inner attributes I carry with me that shape my affairs;
  • Making my stand for what I hold most dear;
  • How to find the value in other’s perspectives and beliefs, and even the ability to shift into them to try them on for size;
  • How to balance my interests with those of others;
  • How to process and use the experiences that life brings me;
  • Knowing my own thoughts, and how to change them when they go astray;
  • Managing emotions, learning when to use them and how;
  • How to make choices;
  • How to recover when things go bad;
  • Learning to engage people and situations that drag me down or test my ability to be true to myself;
  • And perhaps most important of all, how to honor and love others as I love myself.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Besides, there are a lot of places I could do a whole lot better job. But I’m working my way through them the best I can with whatever presence of mind I can bring to the moment.

You’ve probably developed your own style of dealing with such things, and your own set of skills and attributes over the years, too. After all, that’s life. It’s what it’s all about.

All the rest — spiritual beliefs, social causes, political persuasions, career paths — are just things we pick up along the way. They help us meet the demands of life while revealing a little of what’s going on in us and how we meet our tests along the way.

However your life is turning out, remember to stop once in a while and see how you’re doing on all these fronts. And then take a moment to honor the one who has done all the work to make you turn out the way you have — you!

God bless you indeed.

John Dennison
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