Sometimes people feel that they are controlled by external circumstances. But the fact is that your life is largely determined by your own personal choices and decisions in every area. You are where you are and what you are because of yourself. You have gotten yourself to where you are as the result of the choices and decisions that you have made in the past. If you want to be somewhere else in the future, it is up to you to make new and better choices and decisions in the present.
One of the most important discoveries in 20th century thought has been the central role of the actions that you take. An action is defined as something with a consequence. Using this definition, even an inaction can be considered to be an action, because inaction, or a failure to act on your part, has a consequence that can dramatically impact your life.
For example, a person who fails to finish school, or fails to read regularly, or to listen to audio tapes and take additional training, is committing to what you might call an “inaction.” But because it has devastating consequences on the future for that person, it can be considered an action as well.
The most important actions that you take in determining the quality of your life revolve around the virtues and values that you decide to embrace and live by. They are as important to your life as breathing in and breathing out. The fact is that everything that you do is largely determined by what you feel to be good and right and true about life and people-your values!
When you are living consistent with your values, you feel good about yourself. When you are living inconsistent with your values, you feel badly about yourself.
Be Happy and Feel Good
Aristotle, perhaps the greatest of all the philosophers, broke new ground in thinking when he determined that all of human action is aimed at achieving the happiness of the individual. He said that we are all the same in this one respect. We all seek happiness, however we define it. Everything you do is merely a step in the direction of achieving the ultimate happiness you seek. Aristotle did not stop there. He went on to point out that only the good can be happy, and only the virtuous can be good. Therefore, all happiness is determined by the ability of the individual to establish and live by values and virtues that are life enhancing.
From the earliest days of civilization, the purpose of an education was to instill values into the character of the young. For the first 200 years of American historical development, it was understood that the purpose of the schools was to teach values and the purpose of the home was to teach religion. Young people were instructed by reading the stories, poems and plays of men and women in previous time periods who most demonstrated and illustrated the values by which that person should live if a person wanted to have a happy life.
Aristotle went on to point out that, if you have been brought up without clear values, you can develop values by deciding upon the kind of person you want to be and then by acting as if you had the values that that person would have.
Sculpt Your Life and Your Future
The wonderful thing about being a human being is that you are free to shape and sculpt your own character. You can make new choices and decisions at any time of life, especially with regard to your values, and begin acting as if you had those values already.
Perhaps the measure essence of happiness is your ability to achieve the three common goals of self-respect, self-esteem and personal pride that everyone wants. It is only when you have these three in sufficient quantities that you feel really good about yourself.