I have a friend who once told me to “follow the life-giving path.” I can’t recall the context of the conversation, but these words have stayed with me since the day I heard them. I reflected on the meaning of these words. Did my friend’s words suggest that we should do things in life that feel good? Should we be following our bliss? I can’t be sure what she intended by the statement. However, these words have had a profound impact on my understanding of the ways in which we make choices and major decisions in our life.
The “life-giving path” is, for me, the one which gives life, serenity, peace, self-worth, trust, respect, energy, and hope. It means choosing relationships, jobs, lifestyles, and ways of thinking that lead us closer to these states. It involves a recognition that everything we choose, including our beliefs, behaviours, relationships, and lifestyle ultimately have an impact on our well-being.
So often I feel we choose a path in our life because it is the one that “happened” to us, including the job, the relationship, or the lifestyle. If we are unhappy, we may turn to other sources to fill the voids, such as unhealthy relationships, substance use, etc. We may find ourselves at a crossroads, in which we may need to leave an unhealthy situation or pattern of behaviour in order to find something more positive and healthier on the other side. Yet, the unknown is scary for most of us.
As the saying goes, better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t). We may even become comfortable with an unhealthy situation, because it has become familiar and predictable. We may not trust in our own ability to change our situation, so we tell ourselves, “This is just the way it is.”
As Henry Ford claimed, “Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you are right.” I understand that change can be scary, yet we cannot know the boundaries of what is possible until we are willing to take risks and let go of something that is not working or “life-giving” for us.
Crossing the bridge to the unknown, whether changing an unhealthy job, relationship, or pattern of behaviour, can be uncertain if we do not have the tools to keep us on track. Your habits in thinking and behaving may be keeping you stuck in an unwanted experience. This is why there is value in turning to other positive sources and influences, including personal role-models, experts, positive individuals and guides who have, perhaps, some knowledge, wisdom, or insight to help you find a path that is personally fulfilling.
As Einstein stated, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” Personal success and fulfilment are not accomplished alone, but with the help of situations and people that enhance your ability to clarify and determine your own life-giving path. Seek them out. Let others help you help yourself.