Living Your Own Life

by Mark Forster

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pathway to Awesomeness.

April 24, 2007

“It is better to fail at your own life than to succeed at someone else’s.”—Andre Gide

One of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves is, “Whose life am I living?”


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April 24, 2007

“It is better to fail at your own life than to succeed at someone else’s.”—Andre Gide

One of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves is, “Whose life am I living?”

Are you living your own life in accordance with your values, doing what you believe in, and following your own vision? If you can honestly say, “Yes” in answer to all of that question, then congratulations!—you are in a very exceptional position.

Most of the human race seems to spend its time trying to fulfil the expectation of other people—or what they imagine the expectations of other people are. We live in accordance with what we think our parents, our teachers, our colleagues, our lovers, our bosses, the government, the experts, even our own children, expect from us. Or we live in rebellion against them. Either way it’s what we think they want that is ruling us.

Since it’s very unlikely that our parents, teachers, colleagues, lovers, bosses, the government, the experts, and our children would ever agree for one moment about what we should be doing, it’s not surprising that we have a tendency to get confused, or to feel harassed and resentful. All of these conflicting demands are simply more than we are capable of processing.

So why not forget about trying to please everybody else all of the time, and instead concentrate on living according to our own values all of the time? The clearer we are about what we believe in and what our real values are, the easier it will be to do this. And paradoxically, we will probably become far better sons/daughters, pupils, colleagues, lovers, employees, citizens, learners, and parents by doing so.

Exercise:

This exercise depends on catching yourself the next time you find yourself thinking “What ought I to be doing now?” You probably won’t find that you have to wait too long for this opportunity—about 30 seconds is my own average!

Realize that the real meaning of this question is, “How can I fulfil other people’s expectations of me?”

Once you catch yourself asking this question, let it go and ask yourself a different question instead, “What is the next step in living my life?”

And then keep on asking it!

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