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A Rewarding Place

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Sometimes it seems as if everybody and everything passes you by. You get confronted with the formidable advances of old friends by finding their images on the Net illustrating their fame and fortune; you look at your current friends who also seem to be involved in projects that will ultimately drive them away from you; and you wonder where you may have dropped the ball. You may start questioning yourself about the choices you made leading you to the here and now, and why you made them in the first place. If your current circumstances are not as rosy as you'd like them to be, these thoughts can escalate into quite depressing ones, and can really get you down -- if you let them.

But you don't have to let them, of course. Confrontations like these, with sparkling names and faces from past and present, do serve a purpose, just like anything else in your life. However, what purpose they serve and how you will use that purpose in your future directions is entirely up to you. The first thing you should realize is that everyone has a different destiny, and that no one is less than another, even if some people become famous, others infamous, and yet others not known at all. You should also realize that the ultimate gratification is not expressed in the achievements of a person, but rather in the way he or she feels about those achievements. Remember that worn out story that many wealthy people are just as restless and unhappy as those who don't have much of anything? It's not just a pacifying consolation to the less fortunate ones. It's actually true! And the reasoning behind it makes just as much sense as the statement itself: every stage brings its own joys and challenges, and it is up to us to savor the joys and reshape the challenges into opportunities. Well, in every environment you'll find some that are better at doing so than others!

Paces, directions and circumstances are things you can alter. But you should alter them in accordance with your own ideals and based on your own visions and talents. If, therefore, your old or current friends seem to have reached the top of the world, don't be bitter. Be happy for them and wish them well. Use their progress as an incentive for your own, but don't try to meander the same path that they traveled, because you are not them, and times have changed anyway. You can rest assured that what worked when they were on their way to making it in their field doesn't work anymore today. Besides, how happy would you be to walk in someone else's shoes?

The power of liberation begins with defining your own destiny by developing your own vision, laying out a strategy toward reaching that vision, and doing so in your own shoes, at your own pace, through your own paths. You may not become as notable (or notorious) as others in the eyes of society, but that is not what ultimately matters. The beautiful moments of life are not after your graduation, when your kids have grown up, when you have landed that new job, when you've bought that new house, or even next weekend when you're off from work. The beautiful moment is here and now. Life is a sequence of beautiful moments, but we let them get lost when we focus too much on past, future, or others. Others are there to be supported when they need us, and to possibly support us when we need them, but not to determine our direction, pace, or outcomes in life.

When, therefore, these memorable moments of confrontation with alternatives that you allowed to forego occur, it may be best to turn inward and examine your own motives. Then, revive yourself, and realize that you are here and now: that everything, every moment, every act, is a blessing, and that you are now where you need to be. But you can determine where you want to be tomorrow. Make it a rewarding place.

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Joan Marques is the author of "Joy at Work, Work at Joy: Living and Working Mindfully Every Day" (Personhood Press, 2010), and co-editor of "The Workplace and Spirituality: New Perspectives in Research and Practice" (Skylight Paths, 2009), an (more...)

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