By the time you're old (assuming you're fortunate enough to live a long time), you will have undoubtedly spent some time evaluating your life's journey. Did the kids and grandkids turn out OK? Are you content with how you spent your working years? Do the people you love, love you back? Are you proud of the challenges you've overcome?
Don't wait until your later years to ponder these things. Here are several truths which can help you answer such questions affirmatively in the days and years to come.
1. Your own healthy emotional well-being is the best thing you can give your children
This golden tip springs from The New York Times recurring feature, Crowdwise, in which columnist David Pogue asks readers for their life-changing words of advice. A reader, and couples therapist, opined that by spending time having fun together--without children--he and his wife are role-modeling skills which cultivate healthy relationships, such as "self-confidence, camaraderie, and mutual respect." As a couple, it's important to take romantic trips away from the kids or regularly play a couples sport together. These activities will be good for your kids to see and someday emulate.
2. Clutter is a symptom that something's wrong
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, believes there's something to the adage "a messy room equals a messy mind." She says it's because allowing clutter is a psychological reflex which is really a distraction from what's actually bothering you. If you tidy your environment and still don't feel grounded, it's time to look inward at what's causing your anxiety and deal with those issues. "From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life," she writes. "As a result, your life will start to change."
3. You can't feel fulfilled if you don't know where you're going
Napolean Hill, author of Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, says that 98 out of 100 people who are dissatisfied don't have a vision of what they want in life. While identifying your goals involves self-reflection, once you've put in the work you can expect several good things to happen. First, your subconscious mind will look for ways to achieve what you have conceived. Second, you will be more likely to take action (and nothing was ever achieved without action). Third, thinking about your goals breeds enthusiasm which helps you budget, study, work and plan. Fourth, you become more sensitive to opportunities which come along in your everyday life that can help you achieve your vision.
4. How you spend your resources makes a statement about what's really important to you
You only have so much time, energy, talent and wealth, and what you do with these resources directly affects if your life turns out as you would like it to, or differently from what you would have wanted. Again, first you need to know what you want, whether it's meaningful, loving and supportive relationships with family members and friends, to raise successful kids or something else entirely. The problem, according to Clayton Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon, authors of How Will You Measure Your Life, is that high achievers often spend their resources on things that result in immediate, tangible successes, even though what they're attaining doesn't align with their values. They write:
You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn't seem as if things are deteriorating. Your spouse is still there when you get home every night. And kids find new ways to misbehave all the time. It's really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips ands say, "We raised good kids." In fact, you'll often see the same sobering pattern when looking at the personal lives of many ambitious people. Though they believe that their family is deeply important to them, they actually allocate fewer and fewer resources to the things they would say matter most.
How you decide to spend every minute of your day is a testimony about what's really important to you.
5. There will always be a fly in your soup
In other words, problems will always present themselves, regardless of who you are and how hard you try. Writer Ayodeji Awosika points out that people make the mistake of thinking that they'll reach a point when they can rest and enjoy life, problem free. It will never happen.
Just when you've improved your finances, your car breaks down. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, come to work to a nagging boss and go home to an indifferent spouse. Every time you take a step forward, you take three back. Inevitably, just as you're on the rise, something or someone tries to knock you down... Deep down, you believe success provides an escape from life's problems. You figure if you had enough income, freedom, and positive experiences in your life...the bullshit would stop.
The reality is that every human, regardless of income, status or fame, has problems. The difference is how you handle them. By demonstrating your grit and dealing with hardships you can be confident in your strength and resilience. Think about the hard things you have walked through. "Few memories are better than those of overcoming struggles, persisting, and absorbing pressure and turning it into fuel instead of letting it break you," he writes. "Realizing the world will constantly test you removes the element of surprise."