Although an endocrinologist diagnosed me with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes at 27 months old, my mom had the foresight to make sure I didn’t let it define me. She urged me not to say things like, “my diabetes is making me feel bad.”
She gave me the same advice in 2011 when I was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma brain tumor. Saying things like, “my cancer,” “my brain tumor,” or “my cancer treatment” means you’re taking ownership of the hardship and making it yours. Although dealing with brain cancer was a tough break, she reminded me that it shouldn’t define me. My parents immediately began researching alternative treatment methods instead of settling for the misfortune of hearing that I only had a few months to live.
People often complain about depression or poor health. When you say things like, “my depression is terrible this year,” it tells your subconscious that you are a depressed person. This statement affirms in your mind that depression is a part of who you are, and tells you that you will never rise above it. We all get tough breaks in life. But you don’t have to take ownership of misfortune you didn’t create!
Take Charge Of Your Life
Do not think or assume that what happens to you is your destiny. It is not! Don’t let hardships or setbacks determine what you can accomplish. Stop saying things like, “I have bad luck.” Quit thinking you have bad genetics or that you aren’t smart enough to achieve great things. You are in charge of your life. You are responsible for your destiny. God made you awesome, and there are things that no one else can do as good as you can!
Science proves that people who have an optimistic outlook on life have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection. Better health is just one side effect of choosing to have a positive outlook on life. Taking charge of your life starts with your attitude.
Surround yourself with positive influences, and it will affect your outlook. Offer to buy lunch or coffee to chat with a successful friend or colleague. Ask them what steps they take daily, to stay motivated and accountable for their success. This is an easy way to expand your circle of influence and learn from people who have already taken charge of their own lives.
Life Is A Test
To be clear, I don’t believe in the “prosperity gospel.” God didn’t promise that good things would happen just because you hope for them. You have to take decisive, consistent action to achieve your goals. In the Bible, God didn’t say that life will be easy; in fact, He said quite the opposite:
“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
That’s not to say that you can’t win at life, just that you need to do the best with what you’re given. In Matthew chapter 25, the “Parable of the Talents” tells of a master leaving his house to travel. Before he left, the master entrusted his property to three of his servants. When he returned, there were either rewards or consequences according to how they managed the talents each of them received. This story perfectly illustrates personal responsibility. We may not have received the same skills or the same amount of resources as someone else. However, we are each accountable for what we do with the time and abilities we are given.
Focus On Your Blessings
Self-help writer Edmond Mbiaka once said:
“It’s impossible to notice how blessed you are if you are always focusing on your weaknesses and obstacles.”
A negative mindset is very limiting. Just like a horse wearing blinders, your focus can only be in one direction at a time. If your goal is to succeed in life, aim for it! Focusing on your blessings and working past your “issues” allows you to move towards your goals. Stop concentrating on your shortcomings. Take stock and be grateful for the strengths and blessings you have already received.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Social media has created a global community of people who live to compare themselves to each other. Unfortunately, this rampant narcissism can skew our perception of ourselves, in light of the false image other people are projecting. Dave Ramsey likes to say:
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Everyone has struggles and shortcomings. Don’t let filtered pictures on social media or boastful, fake entrepreneurs driving rented luxury cars make you feel like you can’t compare. The truth is: In real life, even they don’t compare to their social media profiles. The “Photoshop culture” we see online is not reality. Measure your success by actual results. Don’t compare yourself to a false reality promoted by people who haven’t even achieved the lifestyle they’re selling.
God put greatness inside of each of us. If you haven’t found your calling yet, start searching for what you were meant to do – and do it better than anyone else!