What is your philosophy of life? Does it involve action, momentum, value creation and good cheer? Is it passive, reactive, somber? Quality of life is more about how we decide to live, rather than what happens to us in the living of it. There’s risk in choosing to live optimistically. We can’t predict or control the hurricanes or floods, the disappointing diagnoses, the betrayals. Sometimes we don’t see that knock out punch coming, and there we are dazed, contemplating the wisdom of standing. The decisions we make in difficult moments are grounded in our approach to life.
I advocate a philosophy of hope. It’s funny, because I’ve often said, “hope is not a strategy.” But that’s incomplete. What I mean is hope is not going to write your paper, deliver your presentation, or mend strained relationships. Hope doesn’t take the action steps required for living day-to-day.
But having hope can keep you facing forward, looking on the bright side of a dark moment. It can feed your courage so you can regroup and try again tomorrow. Hope ensures you don’t give up at the crucial moment, when time is still left on the clock.
Hope is for the living.
We must face each issue that crops up, without flinching, solve it, overcome it and move on to the next. That is what human life is really about. That is what it is to be alive. When you triumph over your sufferings, they will all be transformed into joy. And you yourself will grow and expand.
“Despair is the refuge of fools,” goes the saying. As long as you hold on tightly to hope, as long as you take earnest actions to fight, you can be sure that spring will come again. A Russian proverb says, “There is no winter in the kingdom of hope.”
~Daisaku Ikeda in Goya
When good things happen, people tend to underestimate how much credit is due to their own efforts, and overestimate the influence of outside forces.
- That was just luck.
- It’s only because someone else did thus and such.
- I was in the right place at the right time.
Meanwhile, when something negative happens, the opposite is suddenly true. They get plenty of credit for the poor outcome, while the external forces are let off the proverbial hook.
- It’s all my fault.
- I always do thus and such wrong.
- If only I had done this, that or the other thing.
In either case, the scales are always tipped to favor luck for good things, and self for bad.
Why is that?
We are co-creators in this world. That means just as there are some things outside of our control, there are other things that we have the ability to influence. We owe it to ourselves to get clear on our power in either case. We deserve credit for the victories in our lives. Perhaps we were in the right place at the right time, but we were also prepared and ready for the opportunity when it came along.
History is created by people. Each individual is a key protagonist in that endeavor. Instead of relying on others, we must enact our own great drama of creativity. Then we can break through the shell of our limited self, advancing and improving ourselves day after day. ~Daisaku Ikeda
We have agency. Don’t relinquish your power, content to subject yourself to the whims of the universe. Sure, good and bad things “happen.” But be just as sure that you contribute to the good things. The more you recognize your power to co-create the wins in your life, the more victories you can accumulate.
Yes, Lady Luck deserves some of the credit, and so do you. Give credit where credit is due.