All those bad things, they can’t stop us from making our lives GOOD.
I posted this a few days ago, and I want to revisit the concept of “good” and how to go about making things “good”. I will admit it. I’ve spent the last few years of my life stumbling. I’ve been presented with challenges, I’ve found some myself. I understand what I can’t do well now, in a way I never did before, and I have a different concept of what being “good” means. It seems like such an incremental change for such a long period of time — years — but it’s the most fascinating discovery that I’d rather make now than never. I’m more positive than I was two years ago, on average. I’m not better at learning certain concepts, but I am beginning to understand why.
How does one make their life good? There is tons of research on happiness (http://huff.to/14ZYIoX) and Angela Lee Duckworth, Positive Psychology professor specializing in grit, just won the McArthur Award (http://wapo.st/18ZESuC) for her research. I’ve faced this question up close in the past years with exposure to brilliance, talent, vision, mad drive, and the psychological implications and motivations that surround such a force field, the extreme positive and negative.
In the 8th grade I had a project to debate a topic. I chose whether money could buy happiness because I strongly believed that money could not buy happiness. The model of “good” has changed substantially since then. In college, I spent my first few years focusing on social impact and shunning all things “corporate” and “finance”, believing in tune with the Occupy movement that there was something deeply broken with the private sector. Then I spent a time period confused because I was learning more about “corporate” and the vocabulary of wealth and power. It physically hurt to think about differences in vocabulary between those outside of business school, particularly of low-income roots (which were my own), and those within. How could I reconcile the two disparate vocabularies of satisfaction? How could you support one without destroying the other?
What I knew all along though is that there were different meanings, or purposes, that lived beyond income divisions and race and religion and regions of the world; certain disciplines and attitudes that caused some “ambitious types” to greatly improve their income status and build credibility over the years in the long run. I didn’t know how to go about it, because I didn’t know how to live in the true sense of “long run”, nor what it meant for myself.
Making life good is an effort comprised of many actions. I don’t think life is fair all the time, but I do think it will eventually show you in some way if you are getting away with being less than your best self. It’s an attitude, it’s a discipline, it’s a compassion, it’s a sense of self, it’s a commitment to follow-through. It’s preparation and execution. It’s not genius, but a willingness to learn, change, and move on. It’s taken me all my years to begin to learn how to prepare, and how to execute in a genuine way.
The wealth v. poverty debate has faded in importance in my understanding of “making good” happen. You see, I think the two are intertwined. And in all the special little bubbles in the world where talent, ambition, good fortune, and arguably money have been able to meet, we have individuals who have both a wealth and poverty of the qualities of good. I finally see it, no one has it all.
What drives “long run” good? Is it work/life balance? Is it love? Is it professional success? Is it celebrity and sense of recognition? Is it arriving a confidence? Is it changing quality of life? Is it vindicating yourself? Proving someone else wrong? Setting a record? Being surrounded by other successful people? The child prodigy at age 21 becomes a regular person too. The Huffington Post published an article on my generation – Y (http://huff.to/1effgBF) of why we’re unhappy. I think it focuses on the lives of a small minority of the world population, but it frames the issue of “good life” in a similar enough way to how those around me perceive it. The advice at the end states:
“Here’s my advice for Lucy:
1) Stay wildly ambitious. The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success. The specific direction may be unclear, but it’ll work itself out — just dive in somewhere.
2) Stop thinking that you’re special. The fact is, right now, you’re not special. You’re another completely inexperienced young person who doesn’t have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.
3) Ignore everyone else. Other people’s grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today’s image crafting world, other people’s grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you’ll never have any reason to envy others.”
I would rewrite it. I think that’s why we’re a little unhappy in the first place.
1) Stay imaginative. Don’t stop asking yourself what your world could be like if you were to prepare and execute every day the way you think you should. It’s not about one day arriving at enviable success, it’s not about arriving at all. It’s about having a vision, and living that vision in a genuine way that doesn’t attempt to ignore flaws.
2) Stop thinking you’re supposed to be better than everyone. Be better than yourself yesterday, and tell yourself that you have value today. Now live that value in its fullest.
3) Ignore what others do. Do you. Don’t derive confidence from the feeling that there are others worse than you, more insecure, because that breeds your own insecurity. It only leads to relative confidence. Have absolute confidence. Don’t ignore people. Be kind.