You may have heard this growing up: “Life is what you make it.”
I did. When me or my brothers would complain, mom would respond with this phrase, putting the onus on us to improve our own situation, or our outlook. Like when my best friend invited me to stay at his house for a night of snacks and games, but we had to cancel because of icy weather.
What could I do but complain to my parents? After all, it was their decision to avoid the icy roads. “All you have to do is drive slowly!” I pleaded. They wouldn’t budge. I was devastated. I had been looking forward to having fun with my friend, and my plans had evaporated.
I’ll be honest. As a 10-year old kid, I didn’t understand what they meant when they said “Life is what you make it”. When I heard that phrase it felt like I was being blamed for the bad situation. It wasn’t really my fault a snowstorm prevented me from staying over at a friend’s house, was it? If life was really “what I made it”, I’d choose for the snow to fall on Monday so school would be canceled.
And that’s true. There are some things, some situations, that we may want to change, but find we have no power to do so. In adulthood, I found that some of these undesirable circumstances are much more serious and consequential than one night of fun with friends.
As life goes on, we make mistakes, lose loved ones, miss opportunities, and encounter hardship. But the wisdom of “Life is what you make it” has nothing to do with changing what cannot be changed. It points us toward the truth that your life experience is largely defined by your attitude and outlook.
It’s a reminder that there is good in this life. That even in a situation we’ve determined to be bad or undesirable, there is beauty to enjoy and improvements we can make. It’s a stern call to action that challenges us to look for the good around us and cherish it.
Who or what gives you the courage to push for positive change in your life and community? Focus your energy and attention on those vital aspects of your life. Remind yourself of your passions, your dreams, and your relationships.
Your life is a gift. You could look at your life as a series of unfortunate events, or you could jump into the story and make it your own. Make your life a testament to what’s vital.