When I think of all the times in my life that I have continued doing something despite knowing it was wrong for me in some way…well, it makes me a little sick to be honest. I was always taught to finish what I started. So whether we are talking about eating the food on my plate, reading a book, being in a friendship or other relationship, I have always stuck it out because the mantra continually playing in my head was, “you should always finish what you start…don’t waste things and don’t be a quitter”. Oh the sacrifices I have made in the name of finishing what I started! When I think back now on all those examples, I can’t help but wonder, “What was I thinking?!” While I may have been able to tout that I always finished things (something I was taught that I should be proud of), I was miserable…I was not experiencing joy in my life. And that lack of joy in my life was self-imposed. And why? Simply because I had completely bought into the things that my family and society had taught me. Granted, I didn’t know any different at the time and it never occurred to me that there was any other way – as far as I knew there was only one “right” way…the way I had always done it. I definitely could have benefited in my younger years from Denise Linn’s quote, “It is better to start over…than continue down a path you know is wrong for your soul.”
Let’s be honest, most of us could benefit from her words. Ours is a society focused on hard work and sacrifice. One in which we believe that if we forgo the pleasures of life now we will reap greater benefits in the future. However, the number of people I know who have reached their 40s, 50s and even 60s only to find themselves unhappy and wishing they had lived their lives differently makes me sad. Life is short and it is a gift. It is meant to be lived to the fullest…to be experienced and enjoyed. We need to unlearn that martyr or victim mentality and reimagine our lives. We need to stop being afraid to cease that old habit of continuing down a path we “know is wrong for our soul”. I can tell you that since I have made that mental shift I am so much happier and my life is much more fulfilling. No more sacrificing happiness now for the possibility of having it someday in the future. The future is now – be brave and follow your heart…do what makes your heart sing.