If you opened this article hoping to find 5 easy steps to fix everything in your life, it might be time to check out your life goals. Let’s be realistic for a moment. Do you really think that all the complexity of life could be reduced to 5 easy steps? I am one of those that wish it could be. I get impatient with the speed of a microwave. It takes too long. I can’t get my food fast enough at the drive through I go to every week. I want someone to offer me 5 easy answers to my life, and I want it now.
We have truly become a culture that wants easy fixes for everything in life. I guess there isn’t anything wrong with that, except life rarely comes in a package labeled easy. So we keep looking for solutions to life that don’t cost us any work or pain. We want to lose weight with a pill, not exercise. We want to buy a house with no money down. We want a new car with easy, interest free payments. Heck, if we were really to be honest, we want the car for free. We seem to have forgotten that life isn’t easy.
To flip the coin over for a moment, I do find that there are some basic principles to life that can make life go a lot better if we live by them
1. Realize that there is a God, and you aren’t him
How much pain would we avoid if we stopped playing God in our lives? We think that everything in life is about us and up to us. We try to control our lives and manipulate every situation for our best good. Maybe we could get farther by admitting we don’t know everything, we can’t fix everything, and we are at times powerless over the toughest of problems in our lives. If we were to acknowledge that there is a God, maybe we could turn our worlds over to Him, and take ourselves out of the center of the universe. Then we could live life without always trying to get, and we could change the world by giving to it.
2. Sooner or later you will reap what you sow.
Whether we want to admit it or not, things we do come back around. When we treat others like garbage, there will come a day when we get treated like garbage by someone. If we live with an attitude of giving and grace, we will, sooner or later, be given a gift of grace. If we truly live treating others the way we want to be treated, there would be a lot more ‘well treating’ going on in the world. It might actually improve life on this planet.
3. If you live each day as your last, you will tend to live more alive.
We have a choice about the ways we live. We can horde and save and live clinging to our things and our predictable lives. We have the right to do that. But if we do, we, at some point, cease to be alive. We cling to life so tightly that we smother the life out of it. Our demand is to be safe and comfortable, regardless of the cost.
We also have the choice to give ourselves away, to live free from the bondage of our need for guarantees. We can choose to be fully alive, to live life whether it brings good things or bad. We can value being fully alive or being fully secure and safe.
4. Be present in everything in your life and your life will become a present to others.
Somewhere we get the idea planted deep in our brains that life is something we have an endless supply of. That our days here on this earth will go on and on, so we can waste them as we want. I disagree. I think we spend days like pennies, as if they have no value and are easily disposed of. Rarely have I met a person who is fully present wherever he is, with no hurry to get on to something more important. I want to be one of those people. When I have encountered a person who is fully present in the moment, I have fully encountered that person, and it’s hard to erase the memory, because the weight of who they are so profoundly impacts me. It really does become a present – a gift of their personhood, their impact, their life.
5. Exercise your ability to choose every day
If there is one principle that has profoundly impacted my life, it is this. I believe I have the ability to choose, and that this is a God given right and responsibility I have. I believe the ability to choose is what it means to be created in the image of God.
I believe I have the choice about how I respond to every situation that comes at me. I believe that when I choose, I am empowered to be a wise steward of all that God has given me. I also believe the converse – that when I refuse to believe I have choice in my life, or when I refuse to exercise that choice, I deny the reality of a God who still interacts with us today. The irony is that if I live believing I have no choice about my life, I don’t. And if I choose to believe I can impact my world and my experience of it, my life will be full of living.
So there – all of life’s problems solved in 5 easy steps! And now that you know the secret to being successful, go out today and be a success. Because now that you know, you have a choice to live like you really want to. So exercise that choice!