Positive perspectives and practices for personal growth.

Life is Short, Misery is Optional

Life is way too short – I am coming more and more to appreciate – to squander in any shape or form. That means either allowing negative emotions to bring you down; or alternatively, wasting your time on the trivial, or on anything you don’t do with full personal volition.

Negative emotions that I am increasingly seeing as a sacrilegious waste of life include those arising from:

  • Insecurity – Worrying in any shape or form what other people think of you.
  • Uncertainty – The anxieties that arise from the precarious and nebulous nature of life.
  • Self-criticism – Focusing on your faults, weaknesses and past failings.
  • Stress – Seeing everything as urgent and / or important.
  • Frustration, despair and despondency – Arising from life not living up to your expectations
  • Performance anxieties – Worrying whether you’ll make the grade, or whether other people will deem your performance good enough.
  • Anger – Arising from your perceived injustices of life.

Time, I consider to be equally sacrilegiously squandered when it’s devoted to:

  • Obligation – You’re simply doing something because you think it’s expected of you.
  • Habit – You’re so ingrained in a specific way of acting or following a certain path, that you continue even when to do so is counterproductive or even self-destructive.
  • Self indulgence – You place too much emphasis on one thing, so that you lose balance in your life; or alternatively, you invest far more effort than is really required in any one thing.

The reality is that life is just too short to waste on either the above set of circumstances. But the good news is that more than anything, the simple realisation of that fact helps me to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

The same realisation will help you too.

The Antidote

Whenever I start to feel anxious or depressed – as I often do – I remind myself what a ridiculous waste of time those emotions represent; how they do nothing but sully the few short days, years, or decades left of my existence.

Without them, I remind myself, I am capable of a great deal more; and likewise, life is just so much more joyful, content, tranquil.

Equally, whenever I find myself doing anything out of obligation, I think to myself, why am I wasting my life like this?

That is not to suggest that any one of us should become selfish – that we should ever act without compassion, consideration and love for those who are important to us – but simply that we should never act out of duress.

If we feel that our time is being abused my someone or circumstance, we should have enough courage to stand up and say no more; this is my life, it is short, and I have the right to make of it as much as I can.

I know myself that more often than not I can be my own worst enemy. I can be consumed with stress, anxiety, insecurity, and a sense of obligation.

But then I stop, and realise that all that negativity is of my own creation – if I was not feeling that way then my life, and the world, would be just fine.

Shakespeare said, ‘Nothing is good or bad, it is thinking that makes it so.’ Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can hurt you, unless you give them permission to hurt you.’

Live by those tenets; they’ll give you the strength, the wisdom and courage to live your life authentically, and to realise the ultimate truth: that we ourselves are the source of much of our pain.

If you do have the courage to take responsibility of your emotions – to appreciate that circumstance or other people don’t make you feel bad, but instead you inflict that misery on yourself – you can let go of that negativity; and by consequence, you can truly make the most of whatever precious life is left to you.


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