What can your current circumstances tell you about yourself? We live in a day of unique circumstances, do we not? With the worldwide pandemic winding down, our future circumstances will hopefully change. While the pandemic is beyond our control, many things are within our influence. Let's look at these two kinds of circumstances – those outside our control and those we can influence.
"Circumstances do not determine a man, they reveal him." James Lane Allen (1849-1925)
Circumstances beyond our control
Many circumstances in life are beyond our control. Some of these include where we were born, the family we were born into, the time in which we live, natural events, and so forth. When you think about it, there is much in life we cannot control. We have no say in the day we die. We cannot control other people. The truth is there is little in the natural world we can control.
Yet, because everything in life connects in some way, we might influence them. This influence can vary greatly, with some of it practically immeasurable, while some can affect things considerably.
The one thing we can control is how we see our circumstances. The subjective nature of our mindset and worldview has tremendous control over how we view fixed circumstances. We can choose to see the country we were born in as a curse, a blessing, or anywhere between. We can choose to see the family we were born into in many ways. We can choose to see the weather as nice or not, as pleasant or unpleasant depending on various factors, some physical, some physiological, and some psychological.
While many circumstances are fixed and unchangeable, our view of them has major significance in our lives. When we view the world through a positive lens, we see many of our circumstances as positive. If we view the world through a negative lens, we will see many of our circumstances in a negative light.
This subject of how we learn or choose to view circumstances has a major impact on shaping our lives.
"It always remains true that if we had been greater, circumstance would have been less strong against us." George Eliot (1819-1880)
Circumstances we can influence
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a circumstance is "a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action." How much control do we have over facts? Not much! How much control do we have over conditions relevant to an action or event? Quite a bit!
Yes, not every circumstance is beyond our control. While we can't change the past, we can influence what is to come. What we do and who we become impacts future circumstances in our lives.
There are many circumstances we can control now by taking action. When we work, continually improve ourselves, and build our careers, we can create successful circumstances around what we do for a living and how much we earn. When we save regularly for retirement, we can greatly enhance how comfortable we will be in our retirement years. When we marry the right person, treat them with respect, and appreciate them, we can create a happy and enduring marriage. Any outcome you can imagine in your life can be influenced by your actions today and tomorrow.
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition." Martha Washington (1731-1802)
All of this is to say nothing about how we view circumstances. Our personal views significantly influence how much we enjoy life, regardless of what is happening.
Some can view their circumstances as dreadful, while others can see the same circumstances as wonderful. An example of this is when you work in a company. You may take the view that your work is meaningless and your situation is terrible. Or you may see your job as meaningful and life-giving, creating good in your life. Yes, it is not uncommon for two people to have opposing views of the same circumstance, depending on their perspective.
Where we wind up in life is the result of what we do now and intend to do in the future. When you become an adult and take control, there is no excuse not to improve your circumstances. Unless, however, you choose not to.
"Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound." James Allen
Changing your circumstances
"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start." Nido R Qubein (1948-present)
You can influence the circumstances in your life in many ways. Once again, your circumstances in the future will be largely what you make them by who you are and who you become. The more you go to work on yourself, the more likely your circumstances will improve.
What can you do to work on yourself, to become more in your life? Here are a few things you can do to influence your outcomes:
- Study and learn more about yourself and others
- Seek more education or that degree
- Maintain a strong work ethic
- Set goals for your life
- Create a life plan
- Advance in your career, perhaps even changing jobs
- Find someone to love, marry, and have children with
- Relocate to better yourself
- Read books that help you become more
- Journal to expand and deepen your thoughts
- Find at least one mentor and/or coach, whether formal or informal
- Get the right people in your life, and limit those who affect it negatively
- Let go of hate, jealousy, regrets, fear, and any other such thing that can hold you back
- Take care of your health by eating well, regularly exercising, and getting enough sleep
- Practice mindfulness and learn to live in the present moment
- Reduce stress
- Find meaning and purpose in your life
- Travel the world
- Take some risks!
- Laugh often
Let's start by practicing the final item from the above list. Heed what this wise man says!
"Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night." Dave Barry (1947-present)
Sorry, I couldn't resist!
This short list gives you an idea of how many things you can do to influence your future circumstances. What else would you add?
You can find more on changing your circumstances in this short article: Are You in Control of Your Circumstances?
In conclusion, while we must accept our current circumstances, we do not need to remain content with them. Each day presents new opportunities to influence our future. All we need to do is dream, plan, work, and act so our future better aligns with what we want.
“Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.” Samuel Lover (1791-1868)
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