I know this poem by heart. Every last word of it. I can say it back to you without missing a beat. I was forced to memorize it. Trust me, I didn’t want to know this poem at the time, but it was a grade, and now I know more than ever that it wasn’t just a grade. Diane Walker was a great teacher. She knew every one of us personally. I had her for over six years in a row and it was a complete accident worthy of praise. She wanted everyone to be happy and took a great effort to get us to see that. I would visit her every day after school and tell her all the little things that were happening in my life, we’d go to dinner and talk about my classmates. She was definitely a lot more of a friend to me than a teacher and I am so grateful. However this is not a post about the greatest teacher I will ever come to know, but a whole lot more generic. Diane Walker made us remember this quote and the last two lines always stand out for me, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” It means we control everything about ourselves, from our fate down to our very well being. Sounds contradictory, but it is true. We control our fate. More importantly; we control our happiness.
I think about this a lot, especially when I’m not in the best of moods. It is very very hard to grasp in some situations. As human beings we can be too enveloped in trying to maintain and protect our own well being that we don’t think of others or as to why they could be the cause. They are not the cause. We are the cause. We control our own happiness. Here’s a few explanations:
1. It is impossible for anyone else to define you.
You are undefinable. You are the only person who gets to say who you are. Take pride in that. Circumstances and the opinions of others can only define you if you allow it. Do not give away your power by putting effort and weight in negative situations or the negative words of other people. I always harp on my friends for making dumb decisions and being swayed by peer pressure, and this is exactly why.
2. You were born with everything you need.
There is nothing you are missing. There is no need to frantically become more, be more, do more, or get more. You are complete, and every talent or insight you have is what you get to use to influence this world. Don’t change yourself. Please. Trust this and relax.
3. Perfection is an illusion.
Striving for perfection is a endless goal, as it is impossible. It can never be achieved. Strive for excellence, have high standards, but never confuse that with the crippling behavior of perfectionism.
4. You are not your thoughts.
Your mind does not define you, nor does it control you. It is not who you are. Your thoughts sometimes can be the big weapon against yourself. Look as yourself as a third party viewer to your thoughts and actively change them over time. You can no longer allow those to affect you.
5. Challenges are gifts for your personal growth.
Obstacles are opportunities for growth. We forgive others to free ourselves and walk into compassion for doing just that. Practicing gratitude is the first step to forgiveness. Forget what others have done to you and move on.
6. The past and future do not exist.
This is the most important.
Now is the moment. The past is just a memory. The future is a false mental projection. You can dwell in the past and reflect on the joyous times and never move forward and always wanting to be “happy” again or you can live in the now. Dwelling in the past suffocates and prevents you from the only moment you will ever have: now. Choose to be happy. Choose to let things go. Choose to live your life in the now. Enjoy it. Laugh. Smile. Keep on living.
Now, I am not saying I’ve gotten it all figured out. I still continue to struggle with each and every one of these, but I know what to do and how to change it, and these are the few pointers I use to remind myself that everything cannot be perfect and that it is important to enjoy the imperfections and struggles in life. After all it is your life and you only get one chance on this planet. So how are you living it? Make the change. Keep Moving Forward. Trust me, this is something worth it In the End.