These are my personal keys to happiness. So far I have narrowed them down to five, which is a very manageable number, and it makes them easy to remember. They work for me and it helps for me to write them down every so often. Today as I worked through the inspiration process, I decided I needed to revisit my five keys again.
– Accepting uncertainty
– Embracing failure
– Disregarding critics
– Facing fear
Commitment. It is necessary to stick to a cause, a passion, a talent, a journey, an endeavor all the way to the end, whether that end is good, bad, or indifferent. It is the journey that yields the greatest reward. The outcome is irrelevant. I am one person at the beginning. I emerge a completely different person at the end. The process is what shapes me, strengthens me, refines me, or destroys me.
Accepting uncertainty. Nothing worthwhile in life can be completely controlled. Beauty and perfection is the outcome of chaos. To strive to attain absolute certainty is to chase a mirage. It doesn’t exist except in my own mind. To wake up without knowing exactly how the day will end and to forge ahead anyway, that is my definition of true courage.
Failure is my greatest teacher. I do not trust trust straight line people, straight line paths, or straight line dogmas. The most profound education comes from trying, failing, and getting up and starting all over again. Experience is the outcome of the process. It will be necessary to fail at many things, many times in life. No one ever truly succeeds unless they have failed a sufficient number of times in their life. How many times is it sufficient to fail? That will not be known until it is known. For myself, I only see it in retrospect. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, hindsight is truly 20/20. To be my best self, I need to be willing to fail in order to learn. I accept failure as a necessary part of building my strongest character, digging my deepest well of wisdom, and forging my most assured path to freedom. Each time I experience failure and its accompanying humility, I learn better how to empathize with those who suffer, how to truly forgive, and how to love unconditionally.
Disregarding critics. The more important the endeavor I pursue, the more critics I have, and the more vocal those critics are. They serve a purpose in my life, and that purpose is to strengthen my resolve. I now consider my worst critics as my best and most important cheerleaders. The louder they criticize, the stronger is my resolve.
Facing fears. When possible, I tackle my biggest fear first by: 1) staring it down, 2) finding out what makes it tick, 3) learning where its sharpest teeth are, 4) what feeds it, 5) what makes it roar. After I know this, I set about dismantling it. It is not necessary that I embrace or like what I fear. I find it is sufficient to face it, demystify it, and conquer it. Mostly I fear the unknown; more specifically, I fear that part of me that I don’t know. The dragon-slaying part of my character did not begin to emerge until I learned to stand up and face the dragons I feared the most. I consider it my very greatest blessing to be confronted with that which I fear the most. I don’t like it. I have felt it would destroy me, that I would crumble for sure. Even knowing what I know now, I still tremble when the dragon appears. The difference is that now I know dragons are seldom permanent, and the ones that are can be tamed.