Thursday, July 7, 2011
How Do You Measure Your Life?
How will you measure your life? When you get to be my age (fifties), most of us that try to live a mindful life, start to come up with some sort of a measuring stick. I’ve heard it said that you either look back on your life with accomplishment or with regret.
For a lot of people life and everything else it seems, is measured by money, money, money! Money can buy power, fame, lifestyle, and prestige. Sometimes money can even buy other people. I venture to say most people measure by money first, and foremost. I grew up in a family that was all about money. Sometimes it felt like money took precedence over people. “What does that cost“? “What did you have to give for that“? From that, I adopted my theory that money is just paper we use to get what want in life. I value what money can do, but people are first. It seems a lot of older people get almost obsessed about money…God, please spare me that down the road?
Being the richest man in the world does not guarantee you are the happiest man in the world, by any measurement. Money beyond my family’s immediate needs has never been high on my lists of priorities. It’s important for security yes, but I could care less about how that moves me up, having to do with what people think of me. Some of the best people I know are the poorest, and some of the greediest people I know are the richest.
How much success did you have in your career? Depending on which career, we use different measuring sticks. If you’re an athlete its all about awards, a writer wants a best seller, an singer a Grammy etc. If you have put all your eggs in the motherhood basket like I did, you measure what kind of people have we raised? I feel very proud of the people Kerry and I raised. They are all down to earth, sensitive (maybe a little too much so even), kind, caring, good people. They accept everyone, and support and love each other. We have had problems like everyone else but when you know better you do better and that’s all anyone can do.
How am I doing compared to other people my age? Don’t you think that’s one of the most common measurements? This is a really flimsy measurement tool, because to many times we let other people measure our success. People can be so insensitive about making what others do for a career choice their business, and even being brass enough to comment on it.
Sydney and I talk about this. She meets insensitive people all the time that say things like, “so this is what you want to do with your life…cut hair“? “Are you going to college for something“? She’s even had people tell her she could have done so much more with her life. It causes her to question herself, rather than pat herself on the back for going to a free technical program college that you could do while you were in high school if you had enough credits, had high enough grades, and followed a strict set of attendance rules etc. She can make as much in a day as someone with a four year degree and has no school loans to pay off. That money doesn’t come easy however. Doing hair is hard work - hard, hard work! People don’t think about holding your arms up most of the day, all the bending while doing shampoos, chapped hands and standing on your feet all day. It’s a hard job, but she balances that with the friendships she makes with her clients, and loves visiting and meeting new people and she’s good at it! Some would rather see her graduate from a 4 year college with a bunch of college loans and no job, than give her credit for doing what she’s done and does. I say if you are doing what you love to do, whether it’s the surgeon or the nurses assistant, you have already succeeded in your life, and it is after all, it’s your life.
Regard, how do people regard me? I use that to measure my life to some extent. I really, care about what people think of me, but I care more what I think of me. I remember telling someone who said they don’t like me that, “I don’t care if you do or don’t like me…I live my life by my own moral compass”. I can honestly say I am never rude to anyone. I have the same regard for every person in this world…and I want the people that know me to hold me in positive regard, but I can’t be everything to everyone either. When I look in the mirror I like the internal person I am for the most part, it’s the outside I fight with mostly. I can easily fall into a self hate thing so that’s why I try to be like a duck and let the negative things roll off my back ( ok so I quack about em’ for awhile first!)
My favorite measure of my success is, staying true to myself at the end of the day. I am sure above all, that God lays out a path, and it’s… your path, not someone else’s! He gave you talents and gifts to use in your own way, so comparing yourself with someone else is a waste of time, and kind of an insult to our Maker. I am thankful for my successes and pray for help, for my weak areas. No ones life that I know of, is all wild success with no failure. I have less regrets than accomplishments, so that tips the scale to success in my mind and… in my mind is all that matters. How do you measure your life?
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