How to make the most of your life and relationships
When I was a child, we played a Milton Bradley board game called LIFE where you used a spinner that determined how quickly you advanced on the board with a plastic car, acquiring a spouse and children (denoted by plastic pegs).
Besides differing pastel pink and blue colors (representing female and male), all the pieces look the same, so the game conditions you to think, more is better, as there’s no uniqueness. The kids even look the same.
It also conditions players to believe that you win in the game of life if you acquire and gain more money (and reduce your losses).
I remember thinking as a child playing the game, that you have no control over “your life” (in the board game of LIFE). I must’ve had a bad “LIFE” experience.
As you grow up and go through real life, you learn that the truth is, in reality, you have some control.
Through life, we learn that we don’t cruise through life without any trials if we’re honest with ourselves. We’ve had at least one or some rough breaks along the way, but we’ve bounced back or chosen to look at it as part of life or a growing (up) process.
You may have no regrets because you made the best decision for the challenges you had.
From a young age, we are conditioned into believing certain accomplishments are good, according to society standards. In traditional east coast states especially, by 35 years of age, we look good on paper if we have the perfect career with a good title, a great spouse, a family we started, and a happy life.
Your parents or someone who serves a parental role to you, can give you their sound advice to help you navigate life choices. That loving advice is not always the best for you, and your unique life story.
Only you know.
As you leave the nest and make your own decisions, you realize life success doesn’t have to be measured by the number of children you acquire or how much money you have.
For example, I love to share my travels. It opens my eyes to possibilities and new ideas. Not everyone has that opportunity or luxury. I measure part of my success by the memories and knowledge I’ve acquired from other countries, other than the one I live.
The truth is, the goal in real life is to live the best life for you.
With your unique talents and how you are beautifully wired. For example, it could be measured by how many people or animals you helped, how many events you volunteered for, or simply how happy you feel about where you are and the things you’ve accomplished.
And sometimes the best things take time and are worth waiting for. Instead of taking the path of least resistance or getting instant gratification, you wait for what you think you feel is “your calling” or what life should really be about. Maybe it’s not a stable desk job or the field you are in now.
You can take the skills and experiences you have acquired as you advance in life, and transfer them to another place. It’s never too late to start something new.
Life Trials and The Good Things That It Produces
If I had to start life all over again, I would not try to avoid the many trials and road blocks I faced in relationships, family, friendships, and work. They helped me to re-direct and re-route.
Just like the map applications on your phone, sometimes the end location you setup is “re-routing” and you get taken on a different path from the original path, and still end up at your destination. Maybe you went a better way or you ended up going the scenic route (and saw all kinds of things you never would have), or taking the path with all the red lights.
Whichever way you go, there could be pain in the process. Pain and hurts serve a good purpose.
-You become more appreciative for when things get better.
-They help to stretch your strength and endurance muscle. It helps you to adapt more easily to other tricky life situations. You become more resilient.
-You can become more content in a good way, where you don’t look at life with unrealistic, rosy glasses or “pie in the sky” expectations, and get easily disappointed.
-And you can help others who go through a similar trial if you choose.
If all you have are great stories about your achievements and how you got there, it makes others believe that a similar story is the desired standard to follow. The truth is, you only see snippets of people’s lives. Many times, people show you what they want and when things are great in their lives.
They aren’t necessarily trying to be superficial.
Most the time, they want to focus on the positive. They could be hurting in some way, may or may not be aware, and don’t necessarily want to air their pain in some area that’s difficult for them to deal with. For example, they want to be in a great relationship and they aren’t actually in one.
Life is meant to have some ups and downs. Not all ups, and not all downs. But, if you have no trials or failures, you may not be trying. You could be missing out.
Or you may not be admitting them to yourself (denial), which means you could be missing learning valuable lessons that could help you again in the future.
Trials In Relationships and Seeing The Beauty
My relationship is a 20 plus year journey. I met my fiance when I was in my 20’s and we dated for a little while and then went our separate ways. We then got back together but the timing was still off. Then finally the third time, we stayed together. I was hurt with each time we were not together as a couple, as I somehow always knew we were meant to be together. But life goes on.
I could either wallow or keep going. I chose to keep going and growing.
Looking back, had we not had separate time from each other, I would not have experienced living in another city, other relationships and the needed things they taught me about how to be a good partner, and the growing up process.
While he and I have differences in perspectives, many of them are because we did not “grow up” together as a couple until later in life when we re-met. We had to learn (and are learning) about each other. For example, we don’t assume the other person is thinking the same thing.
We know we’re probably not.
We don’t have to wonder and make wrong assumptions. Instead we try to communicate and clarify. It helps each of us become better communicators. These differences make us better, well-rounded people to the world, both together and individually.
It’s less work to walk down a hill (than up a hill). Our learned standard is hiking up a hill and that’s good for us, but we would embrace the easier path too. We’re open to life’s trials.