Today, I am grateful for considerate people. Considerate people are those who see outside themselves, and show a general concern for others. They are not self-absorbed, nor do they lack the ability to deeply engage with others. These folks stay clear of the drama that often plays out around them. Instead, thoughtfulness prevails. We often notice when they hold the door open for others, or take into account possible negative outcomes before taking any actions.
5 Steps to harness this virtue:
1. Open your mind to the possibility that your actions have consequences.
2. Think about what could happen to others as a result of your choices.
3. Reflect on possible outcomes by asking if your actions will hurt or help others.
4. If your actions help others, go ahead and execute your plan. If your actions hurt others, refrain and find a better way.
5. Make this sequence a habit before making decisions.
Welcome to consideration. It is a virtue that must be honed. While not a fool-proof way to avoid negative outcomes, practicing consideration of others can lead to better relationships.
Today’s Virtue is Accountability. For any challenge or self-improvement one undertakes, it is best to be held accountable to stay on track. Yesterday’s first post for my Gratitude Challenge: Using the Virtues started with Acceptance. When we are held accountable, we achieve much more than we expected. It forces us to drum up our essence, the excellence within, that we might pay less attention to when we think no one is watching. Many challenges I’ve participated in require a partner to ensure my goals are met. Much of the time, the community built around the challenges provide an equal push. I am grateful for all who share the same path during the challenges, especially the accountability partners. To ensure actions are completed, each of us must admit whether or not we have done the work. No fudging the truth; sometimes I must explain my actions, or lack of action during the challenges.
Each of us is accountable for what we do in life – it’s one of the more strict virtues in the list. It suggests that we are weak and tend to shirk responsibility. Ouch. I’ll admit to having let a goal or two dissolve during my lifetime. I don’t always fill the shoes I intend to fill. This blog might be one of them. Sometimes we can justify it by calling it choice. When I choose to write, I will. Or I might say that I need some inspiration to write. Well, where does that inspiration come from? It depends on what I want to achieve. What about setting goals to lose weight or write that book? It might be difficult to be inspired to live out a dream.
I am reminded of a poem by Langston Hughes, called “Harlem.” The first line asks the very question many of us ask, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Because this line is so famous, most people think the title should match. Without a community built around the same goals, we end up in the same place we started – with a dream without action.
For major goals in life, seeking out someone to partner with is extremely helpful. I’ve gone through some strict detoxes over the past couple of years. Without others who inspire me to make sure I’m drinking my green smoothie or walking 10,000 steps each day, the tasks seem too hard to accomplish on my own. A cheerleader on my side is a blessing. I feel stronger than ever to maintain my convictions for healthy living.
Does this mean that we cannot be accountable on our own? No. Not at all. Sometimes the goal is enough. Many people are certain that as long as we know why we want to achieve some major change, we will do it based on a strong will and determination. Thank goodness, perseverance is instilled in all of us at birth. We have heard about the many who have achieved great things. We are no different.
I am thankful to find the wonderful people in my networks who help me to be my best even when I don’t feel up to it. Be accountable; practice making it a habit. Find an accountability partner to ensure you meet your goals. In return, be an accountability partner who helps another achieve a goal.
We are responsible for our own lives. Each of us must recognize what has worked for us in the past, what has not worked, and make new decisions based on that knowledge for the next move.
We have all made mistakes.
We must determine if we are present in life or absent from it. If we are present, we continue to move forward understanding ourselves and how we react to good and not good times in life and are able to understand what we can correct as far as our behaviors those things we do that hinder our progress. If we are absent from our lives, events will continue to happen to us and should be no surprise that we have no control.
Which is better? To be an agent and act in such a way that we make our lives happen for us the best we can, or shall we allow the world and circumstance to toss us about like a boat with no anchor?
Joan Didion’s essay “On Self-Respect” can serve as a reminder to accept our own failures and make them our own. Maturity does not come as we hit benchmarks in age, only when we can make peace with our failures and shortcomings. The honor society that Joan hoped to join did not allow her a second chance because she messed up. It was her own responsibility to perform in such a way that would gain her the recognition she thought she deserved. Her aim for the essay is to help us see the errors we make as just another happening or occurrence in life, to help us understand that we control some of those unfavorable outcomes. We may not live up to the expectations that are either placed on us by others or the expectations we place on ourselves. Those mistakes, regardless of the matter, are our own. At this time we move on. We will carry the memory of our errors, but we must not live there. We keep pressing forward. We respect ourselves for what we did or did not do. Nielsen used to say to me, “The choice you made, either good or not good, was the right choice for you at that time.” We own our choices and move forward, not stopping to dwell in the past.
We do not stop living after a mistake. We do not need to stop trying to be the best we can be due to past errors. We do not stop striving for excellence.
Setbacks are setbacks.
A future will happen. Will you be awake and present for it, or will you be absent? It is your choice.
In Speaking of Change, we discussed fears and contemplated reasons we may make to stay stagnant in our lives rather than move forward.
I hope that this note may help confront one of the many, but powerful reasons not to embrace our inner changes – feeling as if we need permission to do the task, take the job, move out of state, lose the weight, start a new business, earn another degree, or live the life we desire.
Ask yourself these questions.
Am I my own entity? Do I depend on another’s lungs to help me breathe? Am I capable of thinking for myself?
Surely, as a living, breathing person, you desire to do things that not everyone else around you wants to do. Say this to yourself: “I am unique.” Embrace your autonomy. You’re the master of you.
To require another’s permission to eat, breathe, sleep, laugh, relax, or play is silly. How you do things is strictly up to you. Take this notion into other areas of your life. As simply as it is to be yourself, it is just as simple to make changes in your habits, or create changes in your life. Of course, if you desire any major change, such as breaking poor habits, consult a step by step program that is well designed and has a proven success rate. My aim is to inspire you to muster up your inner spirit to move forward with positive changes without feeling like you need approval from anyone. You don’t. Those fires that wake you up at night are your own inspirations. Listen to them. Do you ache for a better quality of life? You have what it takes within you.
Let me note a strange phenomenon that sometimes occurs in the psyche. After we grow up, into adulthood, we forget that we are adults, equipped to decide what is best for ourselves. That’s left for those major decision makers, we say. Nonsense. We are no longer children. Who else but you knows the best path? As long as we remain aware of our true selves and our surroundings, we can make the best decisions. What do I mean by our true selves? Remember, my suggestion is that our true self is the one that wakes us up in the middle of the night. It’s the voice that you attempt to muffle because you know it speaks the truth about your circumstances. It’s the voice that would have you do something you’d rather not listen to because it would invoke change. It’s clear. We’re lazy. But we can do what are deepest desires require. Change.
Resist the urge to wait for anyone’s permission for us to live the lives we ought to be living.
Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ 1953 is a classic, absurdist, two-scene play, now on Broadway depicting two men under the impression to wait in one place for a man named Godot who never arrives. Does your life feel like this? Do you wait in one place, one circumstance, for something to happen? Read the script: