I’ve had a principle I’ve used for the past 40 years. I pretend I’m personally responsible for everything that happens in my life. There are obviously things that happen that I don’t control. At the same time I’ve found that if I pretend I could have influence over these events I’ll think about them differently.
Being responsible means I’ll learn more. If I’m responsible for what happens in my life it’s very difficult for me to be angry with others when things go wrong. It’s not their fault and sometimes it’s not even my fault. If I’m responsible I get to ask the question, “What did I learn?” It’s the answer to this question that helps me keep moving forward.
If I believe I’m responsible I have an opportunity to think more clearly about things that happen in my life. When I got cancer it may have been my fault; I’ll never know. Knowing that I can’t control the fact that I have cancer is one thing. Knowing that I can control my thoughts and actions is what matters. Taking responsibility for my life allowed me to do cancer and not have cancer do me.
Being responsible allows me to be in the present. If I’m responsible I’m able to be present going through life. When someone is blaming or justifying their behavior they’re living in the past. We can’t do anything about the past; we can only change what we’re going to do in the future.
At the same time thinking about what might or might not happen in the future is often a useless exercise. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and spending a lot of time worrying about it probably is not the best use of my time, talent, or efforts.
Focusing on now allows me to have the maximum impact and joy in my life. I can do something about what I’m thinking and what I’m doing now. I can only do this when I’m willing to be responsible for what’s going on in my life. If I’m worried about what others might do to me I’ll be spending time worrying about the future. If I’m feeling bad about things that have happened to me I’m in the past.
I have a friend who has a great saying, “it is what it is.” I say that a lot these days. Things happen and those things are just it is what it is. It’s not that bad things don’t happen because they do. It’s what I do and think about those things that count.
As Brian Tracy says, “it’s impossible to remain angry or to blame others in your life when you say I’m responsible.” The more you say that you’re responsible the more you short circuit or switch off negative emotions that make you unhappy.
Making your life better is about understanding and knowing that there is a lot more that we can control than initially meets the eye. When you’re responsible you’re making your life better for you and those around you.
We’ve put together a resource center with many great reports on transitional issues you might face in your life. Click on the button below and you’ll see the reports that we have available. I think you’ll find some of these reports and workbooks useful as you think about how you can be responsible in your life.