A little over two years ago I penned an article called Keys to Life. The piece was an adaptation of an essay by author Michael Thomas Ford from his book of collected essays called “My Big Fat Queer Life.” In the essay, “Ten Keys to Being Happy Though Gay”, he spells out ten tidbits of advice on things gay people should do in order to be happy. I felt strongly enough about his list that I adapted it so that we all could gain some insight into that ever-present pursuit of happiness.
The ideas set forth in his essay inspired me to create my own list of ideals to strive for in pursuit of a happier life. Some of Ford’s keys made a lot of sense to me, but not all of them. I kept some of them the same and changed others to fit life as I see it. Remember that these are ideals. They’re not easy to achieve, but they’re all worthy of aspiring to.
I’ve long since wanted to revisit these “keys to life” in the hopes of keeping them at the forefront of my own mind and to share them as valuable information for anyone to have. For the next several weeks I’ll be doing just that, only this time I’m going to be taking a look each of the ten keys individually. In this piece, we’ll take a look at the 7th key to life: stop blaming everyone else. Here’s what I wrote on this back in November of 2008:
Life is nothing but a series of choices. Whether it’s choosing between the toothpaste with baking soda or the one with tartar control, deciding whether or not to make a long overdue phone call, or if we should take a mental health day, we have to face the consequences of our decisions. If a friend no longer calls, maybe it’s because I haven’t called them either.
One of my favorite mantras in school is “No Excuses”. Students come up with all sorts of excuses for not doing homework or not studying for a test. We all make excuses. Pointing the finger outward does nothing to help our situation. If we’re unhappy with the way things have turned out in our lives, we’ve got to take responsibility for where we find ourselves and do something about it.
I believe that life goes the way it does because of the choices we make. Where I stand today is the result of all of the decisions I’ve heretofore made for myself. Whether or not things have turned out the way I would have liked, I have to accept responsibility for the fact that I am where I am because of me and me alone. Blaming outside circumstances or other people for the things in my life I’m not happy with is simply making excuses. Coming to this realization can be empowering, and life can only be fuller because of it.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve made many poor decisions in my life and today it is not exactly where I would like it to be. Instead of making excuses for my circumstances, I just need to acknowledge the fact that I brought myself here through the choices I’ve made and the choices I have yet to make will steer my life for the better or worse. I just need to make the right choices, which is never an easy thing to do. Understanding this concept and learning from past mistakes can only help to get myself to a better place.
In 2007, my relationship of 20 years ended. There wasn’t any one thing that caused it to end; he and I just of grew apart. I know that the decision to break it off was mine and that I was just as much to blame for the poor state our relationship had morphed into after all of that time. There was no anger or bitterness towards him, only a need for change and a chance at happiness. A relationship is a two-way thing and each partner has a hand in how it goes. So rather than blame him for our problems and let anger fester within me for the way things turned out, I acknowledge that this was just what was meant to be and he and I are both better off for it. In fact, he and I have a better relationship now than we did for the last five years we were together.
I’ve recently been publishing a series called “Crossroads,” in which I discuss the latest decision I’ve made in my life. Three years ago I purchased the house my ex and I had owned together and it’s a decision I regret. It was made for the wrong reasons, more emotional than anything else, and today I am in a bad place because of it. I accept responsibility for the state of my life and I now seek to change it for the better while applying the things I’ve learned from my past mistakes in decision-making:
No longer will I allow emotions affect the choices I make in my life.
No longer will I rush into things without thinking them through clearly.
I have a good idea where I’d like to be in my future: renting an apartment in New York City, getting myself into a better financial state, and having the chance to meet more people than I do now. I first made this decision towards the end of last summer and in the past I may have rushed into things, but knowing that I am where I am because of poor decisions has taught me that if I continue to apply the same methods in making decisions I will once again fail. I am responsible for the state my life will be in.
So I leave you with this ultra-important key to life. Understand that no one else is to blame for the things that you don’t like about your life. You are where you are because of you and you alone. Delve back into your past and ascertain the decisions you’ve made that got you to any unsatisfying state you experience and learn from them. No one else is going to do it for you, and no one else is to blame if it doesn’t go your way.
For more in this series please see:
Keys to Life
Keys to Life: Key #1 – Live in the Present
Keys to Life: Key #2 – Age Gracefully
Keys to Life#3 – Cultivate Friendships
Keys to Life#4 – Make a Difference
Keys to Life#5 – Take Chances
Keys to Life#6 – Take Care of Yourself
For the “Crossroads” series, see:
Crossroads: Striving for a Change or Settling for Status Quo
Crossroads, Part 2: The Decision
Crossroads, Part 3: First Step
Crossroads, Part 4: Justifying My Decision
Crossroads, Part 5: Words to Live By
The Real Estate Short Sale: Answers to Essential Questions
Crossroads, Part 6: New Considerations
Crossroads, Part 7: A Shift in Focus
My Long Island