“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.
If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an inﬁnite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
“Choice, not chance, determines human destiny.”
Robert W. Ellis
These days I sometimes worry we focus, and dwell, upon the things that could be construed as ‘bad’ in life. Let’s combine that worry with a general belief that things are worse than they are.
The former are things like not liking your job or maybe getting caught up in the grind of life <and feeling like there could be “more” then what you are experiencing>. The latter are things like there are wars everywhere or even that there is some mass murder somewhere in your country everyday. But both seem to be rooted in some form or fashion of, well, a desire for some grand utopian future. A world in which nothing bad would ever happen.
That may sound too grandiose for what we everyday schmucks actually think about and desire, but it isn’t really. It isn’t because while we always want things to better our version of better — those things are most typically not viewed in increments, but rather substantial change. Therein lies the ever unreachable grand uptopian future.
I sometimes think this uncomfortable feeling is a reflection of a natural desire for wanting to know what the end looks like and yet the end hasn’t even been written.
“I’m afraid we’ll always be a book with the end pages ripped out.”
I do believe many people feel uncomfortable being a book with the end pages ripped out. Not only can they not read the ending, but they also feel the inherent incompleteness in their own story as well as Life <because they cannot see the end — this is exactly like doing things at work with no strategy or vision>. Unfortunately for us, within that incompleteness Life, requires us, no, demands us to make choices … day in and day out through an infinite amount of ‘present moments’. And sometimes you will need to make decisions that direct the course of your life and that decision will not be associated with a smiley face or some positive quote you can find on instagram or facebook.
Yikes. It all sounds so frickin’ overwhelming. All these ‘presents’ and ‘choices’ and no smiley faces, well, not just overwhelming but possibly just bad <as in not how I would prefer to live my life>.
Well. This is where defiance comes in. Unless you can live defiant of bad and see the happiness which is not only inherent within life itself, but intertwined in the infinite succession of presents, you are certainly doomed to thinking everything is bad. And if you are defiant I can almost guarantee you will see quite a bit of happiness intertwined throughout your Life and the world’s life. Because if you are defiant you will not overlook the little events.
“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens.
If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time.
If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness. “
Look. While I have written about the fallacy behind “manufacturing happiness’ or the whole idea of ‘purposefully creating happiness’ I do tend to believe you can affect your happiness. It helps if your happiness is more likely dependent upon some realistic expectations, or maybe, viewing the little moments within the larger grind that is known as Life instead of seeking some larger more grand utopian vision of happiness and big events to define happiness.
Let’s say that happiness is built on discrete moments of now.
Uh oh. This means that happiness is driven not only by awareness but some common sense and clarity and there is no secret code. Darn. No secret code. Unfortunately, without a code to offer, I have to offer the unfortunate truth about happiness — you have to do something to gain happiness. Make choices. Choose to go somewhere. Choose to do something. Choose to explore something or somethings < including ideas and opinions>.
Defiantly choose to choose. And choose to live in defiance of all that is bad.
Anyway. I remember reading that JFK once said: “I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.” Replace America with people … and I agree. Grace & beauty.
Well. Seems awful hard to think about those things if all you see is a bad world in turmoil. Philosophically the way to beat bad is, well, in that infinite succession of moments idea. The world can look pretty frickin’ bad when looking at the larger picture <which is a little weird because while bad things do happen in the larger scheme of things there is less violence in today’s world than almost any time over the past 200+ years>.
The only way to make things NOT look as bad is to manage life in that infinite moments way … that awareness in the present permits you to have some clarity with regard to the good that exists in the here & now.
I mean, well, if you always have your eye on the future or the larger picture you are either living in something unreal <an unwritten but hoped for future> or viewing all things around you assessing threats <the bad stuff> to maintaining your existence and reaching your desires.
Simplistically … if you avoid the succession of moments you have no chance of seeing what exists in that moment.
Defiance is not easy.
It is much much easier to not push back but go along for the ride … wishing it were better than it seems to be.
Defiance is a choice. And that is why I opened with the quote that choice defines destiny not chance.
If you are defiant, and push back, you are more likely to control the destiny of … well … your happiness let alone anything I imagine. The person and life you want to be DOES exist you just have to be defiant in the pursuit of it.
One Tree Hill Quote:
“There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads. The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.””
And, of course when faced with the unknown, most of us prefer to turn around and go back.
But, once in a while, people push onto something better. Something found just beyond the pain of going it alone. And just beyond the bravery and courage it takes to let someone in. Or to give someone a second chance.
Something beyond the quiet persistence of a dream. Because, it’s only when you’re tested that you truly discover who you are. And, it’s only when you’re tested that you discover who you can be. The person you want to be does exist; somewhere on the other side of hard work and faith and belief. And, beyond the heartache and fear of what lies ahead.
There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads.
The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.”
Living life in defiance of bad. Or maybe we should say ‘defiantly pursuing good in life.’ For if you are defiant and seek the good … the good can, and will, be seen.
note: this thought is also relevant to how one could view business