When we reach a certain age (usually in our early 20s) we being to ask some fundamental question about life: What do I want to be and do in life? What will my career be? Who do I want to marry? What kind of wife/husband will I choose to be? Do I want to have children? How will I choose to raise my children?
These existential questions are answered and acted out every day by what we actually “do” and not by what we “intended” to do. That’s the hard news of life. We are what we do, and not the blue sky dreams of our intentions.
To achieve this requires the wisdom of living with intentionality, thinking and disciplined action so you can do the right thing, at the right time, to the right extent, to the right person for the right reasons and in the right way. As I explore in depth in my book “Finding the Port that has Your Name” the ancient Greek called this type of wisdom and character required to successfully deal with life’s challenges “Sophrosune”.
In contrast, much of our daily life is filled to the brim with the seemingly urgent things that we must do now and quickly. But the important critical decisions that will have long term impact on your life, and the lives of those around you, are worth pondering carefully about, weighing all the potential consequences, and planning to maximize the chance of success.
Nowhere is this thinking more important than how we decide to behave with our families. To a very large extent our character traits are within our control. We need to ask ourselves:
- What kind of a person will I chose to be in my life?
- How will I treat others along the way?
- If I marry what kind of husband/wife will I choose to be?
- If I have children what kind of parent will I choose to be?
- Do I think these things will happen “spontaneously” or do I believe I will need a plan of intentionality that thinks and ponders about my role as wife/husband, mother/father, son/daughter, employer/employee? Or will I choose to “wing it”?
- What are the things in our lives that are worth planning for? And am I planning for them?
We can intentionally chose to exhibit to the world around us, and especially to our families, a spirit of love, consideration and still be able to ask for the things we need and set good boundaries. Unfortunately that takes patience, diligence, self-control, and a need to show the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy peace patience, kindness generosity gentleness and self-control. Try showing those in a moment of a heated argument!! That’s incredible hard! That’s why we have the term, “I am sorry”.
Most religions and spiritual philosophies believe that there is some kind of “reckoning” at the end of our lives. A day of Judgement, Karma, reap what we Sow, a Day of Accounting? Could that be true? Will there be a point in your life where you will look back and wish you had made more thoughtful decisions at the important cross roads of your life?