How do I go about summing up the Live Your Best concept? I never want the conversation to sound trite, or dismissive of the very real struggles we face; I never want to sound as though I’m saying that if we just try a little harder it will be all right. The fact is that sometimes things are not all right. Sometimes things go horribly wrong and we’re left broken, wounded, suffering in the face of great loss. We’re in a fog of doubt, wondering how we can go on.
Bad things happen to us all. In everyone’s life, the sun shines and storms rage. Sometimes we can understand the storms and their purpose, but at other times we’re left aching for answers to the question “Why?” The important thing, though, is how we choose to respond to the hardships that enter our world.
So my hope in all this is to offer guidance that we might hold on to in the face of the storm. Like any skill, perseverance can be learned and honed. When we practice these seven lessons, we’re never far from safe harbor.
I examine each of the lessons in a series of blog posts:
Lesson 1: Let Go of the Happiness Myth
Lesson 2: The Nature of Luck
Lesson 3: Accept Limits
Lesson 4: Cease Striving
Lesson 5: Take Every Advantage
Lesson 6: Pay Attention
Lesson 7: Find Community
These attributes of perseverance have led me to a place that deepens my character—that innermost person we find when we’re all alone. I’m more grateful, more patient (this one’s a work in progress), and more peaceful.
When I had to retire, I’d been a nurse for twenty-one years. It’s always been in me to try to help people, from working with youth to my involvement with charities like U-Turn Parkinson’s and Compassion Canada. This aspect of my character development—the deliberate effort to get outside myself and be of some good in my world—is important to me. I need to be reminded (often at times, it seems) that I’m not the center of the universe and that I’m not the most hard-done-by individual on the planet, either. There are people who live under much worse circumstances. I need to find a way to give back that doesn’t keep me in the spotlight.
In a fast-paced world, it takes a lot of effort to slow our personal lives enough to help ourselves, let alone those around us. Yet I’ve often been surprised by how much I benefit from taking the time to lend others a hand—it deepens, adds texture to, brightens, and matures me. It makes me more joyful and content with the person I am when I’m all alone. My character is changed for the better.
This is what it means to Live Your Best: To embrace the suffering that comes our way. To hold it close as our new best friend whom we hate. To keep going in the face of suffering and to allow the journey of perseverance to work into our character a new and better person.
Doing so leads to a startling conclusion: I find hope. Hope is realized in the fact that I can live with Parkinson’s. In the fact that I can survive and even thrive in the face of it. Hope is realized in the fact that I’m made a better person in the course of the journey, that I can do this, and that I can leave my world a bit of a better place because of it. At the end of it all I discover hope. And that leaves me with a smile.
This blog post is an excerpt from the book
Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined.
Order your copy of the book.