"That's just the way it is."
"It's just not meant to be."
"Bad things always happen to me."
"Can't change now."
"I just can't catch a break."
We've all said or felt these sentiments in our lives, but in these words and ideas might be the key to happiness and life satisfaction.
A report in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology stated that autonomy is the number one contributor to happiness. Autonomy is defined as "freedom from external control or influence; independence."
As some of you know, I am currently working toward earning my conditional Black Belt at my martial arts school (I get my new belt tomorrow-yahoo!). One of the requirements of our increased training is to read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In many ways, this is a guidebook on finding more autonomy. In fact, the first habit is "Be Proactive." The author, Stephen Covey, writes "Reactive people are driven by feelings, circumstances, by conditions, by their environment." In other words, they are not autonomous because they are not free from external influence. They live by default, often letting people and circumstances act upon them. In contrast, "Proactive people are driven by values--carefully thought out, selected, and internalized values." So proactive people are autonomous. They live by design, creating the life they want according to their values, regardless of circumstances.
Think about that for a minute. And then honestly decide if you are more REACTIVE or PROACTIVE. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
1. When you fail to complete a project or reach a goal, do you typically:
a. Blame lack of time, other obligations, or external factors for getting in the way
b. Realize that you didn't have an adequate plan to complete the project and think about how to avoid a similar situation in the future
2. When your birthday approaches, do you typically
a. Think about what you'd like to do and hope somebody plans it for you
b. Think about what you'd like to do, make reservations, and invite your friends to celebrate with you
3. When somebody does something to hurt you, do you typically
a. Feel betrayed, talk to others about the situation, and/or avoid or unfriend that person
b. Confront the person and talk honestly about the situation
4. When you want to change a habit or behavior, do you typically
a. have trouble coming up with ways to change and/or tell yourself that it's just the way you are
b. lay out a plan, set goals, and find somebody to keep you accountable to those goals
5. When you want to get something done, do you typically
a. talk about it but fail to make a solid plan
b. write down daily, weekly, and/or long term goals and take action to complete them
You can probably figure out that if you answered mostly (a) answers, then you are a more reactive person. However, if you answered mostly (b) answers, than you have a habit of proactivity. How do we work toward a more proactive existence?