freedom.

We are all products of our decisions. Whenever we make a choice, there are consequences. Essentially those consequences define our lives. All pretty basic, common knowledge.

But let’s say you don’t make choices. Let’s say you sit back, and just sort of watch life happen. We’ll call it an extreme “go with the flow” take on life. It could be because you’re just remarkably laid back and don’t care to have an impact on anyone’s life, especially your own. That’s one way of viewing it.

I’m doubtful that’s true for any of us, though. It’s more likely that we’re terrified of those consequences, because somewhere down the line, pain and anger will introduce themselves. And say, “Hi, I’m a direct result of the decision you just made.” For the greater part of my life, I’ve done a strangely good job of avoiding the whole decision-making thing. And then something I loved for a long time was taken from me before I ever made up my mind about it. Something I thought would surely be there all my life, so I wouldn’t really have to choose. It’s like having a really good job offer on the table for eight years. And when they finally give the job to someone else, you almost feel betrayed. “But wait, that was my position to take.” Really? Was it? Because you never made a choice. You didn’t accept, but you didn’t deny. You let it sit there. You let someone else’s decision affect you before YOU affected you. You let life happen to you, instead of you happening to life.

Learning that our [lack of] decisions affect[s] people takes time, especially for those of us who tend to watch life instead of participate. Alas! I’ve recently decided to participate. And I’ve learned some decently messy, extremely tough lessons. But they are lessons, nonetheless. And I’m learning how to take control of my life, instead of watching it take control of me.

Lesson 1: People will get hurt. You (the decision-maker) will most definitely be one of them. But so will your friends and family. Understand that pain is a part of life. And that this world’s eagerness to avoid all “negative” feelings is destructive.

Lesson 2: Selfishness is not the opposite of selflessness. There is a healthy way to make decisions for yourself while still caring for others.

Lesson 3: When you love, love with everything you have. Love boldly, love fearlessly, love out loud. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Even among the pain, I’ve found more love during the last bits of my life than I could have ever imagined. And choosing to love back has been the most liberating feeling I’ve ever known.

The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

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investment.

People have been trying to define the word “success” for decades. “What does it mean to be successful?” “How much money does it take?” “What’s the fastest way to get there?”

Success seems to drive the world around us. The US, at least. Capitalism, you could say, is centered around success. Survival of the fittest, more or less. I have several friends who are highly motivated to climb the corporate ladder and to come out on top. To be the one making all the money. Is that success? And is that what’s driving me?

This topic may seem trivial, like it’s been beaten to death. I know, I’m not laying down any earth-shattering thoughts or challenging life’s biggest questions. I just need to figure it out. Is success different from happiness? Is success required for happiness? Are they one in the same?

I learned a lesson today. And maybe I’ll take it back in a week or so, but I learned something about myself. Money does not have the ability to motivate me. It cannot. I would rather make minimum wage doing something I love with people I love than to make money somewhere I don’t love. I know, I know. People say this all the time. But I think I’m starting to get it.

We often take our love for granted. When we love something, really really love it, we have to put our hearts into it. Lose ourselves in that, because we don’t know how long it will last, when it will leave us, or when we will leave it. Be so unconditionally, irresponsibly invested in what you love. And who you love.

Success is not money to me. It is not a job title. Success happens when we work hard. And we work the hardest when passion is involved. The more passion, the more love, the more work. Simple as that.

 

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?