A little over four years ago, I penned a piece called Keys to Life. It was a piece inspired by an essay in Michael T. Ford's My Big Fat Queer Life, and I adapted it for my own purpose. The essay is a listing of ten mantras, if you will, for living a more fulfilled, meaningful life. I subsequently followed the original piece with more in depth looks at each of the ten 'keys' and now that I've reached the 'K' post in the A-Z Challenge, I thought I'd take a look at them again to try and see how I'm doing with them in my own life.
As with anything worthwhile, I think we all need revisit things such as these every once in awhile to both be reminded of them and to constantly work on improving ourselves. Though they're not perfect, they are definitely worthwhile things to aspire to, and so as I analyze my own progress at attaining the keys, feel free to think about how you might be doing in these areas of your own life.
I'm going to rate myself on a scale of 1-10, with 1 meaning 'not at all,' a five meaning 'sometimes,' and a 10 meaning 'all the time.' The numbers in between titles of each key link to the original piece pertaining to it. (Note - Click the titles to go to the original piece.)
Key #1 - Live in the Present
This one's all about living in the here and now and not in the past or the future. For this one I'd give myself a '6.' Yeah, I think I'd love to live in the present 100% of the time, but the nature of my job and my financial situation always has me thinking about the future, and my sappy self sometimes dwells on the sentimental (which is okay, I guess, as long as it's only sometimes).
Score - 6
Key #2 - Age Gracefully
Aging gracefully means not trying to look or act too much younger than you really are. I'm lucky in that my physical presence is such that I look a lot younger than my age, and my personality lends itself to being able to have fun when I can, yet be responsible enough never to over-do it. Here I give myself a '9.'
Score - 9
Key #3 - Cultivate Friendships
Friends are the family you choose, and I'm fortunate enough to have 'BFF's' that I can always count on when I need them. I'm also pretty outgoing and friendly, and I make new 'friends' easily. The downside to this is that I can be somewhat of a loner sometimes, and I occasionally shun outings with friends just to be alone. Here, I'd grade myself with a '5.'
Score - 5
Key #4 - Make a Difference
Here's one that I have the good fortune of performing at my job, which is teaching English as a Second Language. The nature of my particular job, in which I only teach about 20 or so kids, is that I not only teach them English, but I also get to exert some good (I hope) influence on them in many aspects of their lives. Though I haven't spent any time doing any sort of volunteer work (a goal), I'd still give myself a '9' on this one.
Score - 9
Key #5 - Take Chances
Thirteen years ago, I left a fifteen career in banking to pursue a new profession as a teacher. I set a goal of going to Italy and I went...twice! A little over five years ago, I made probably the biggest move of my life yet in ending a 20-year relationship. In those days, I would have given myself a '9' or even a '10,' but today I give myself a lowly '1.' More than two years ago I was ready for the next big 'change' in my life, but in the months and years that followed, the whole thing got smashed and today I find myself mired in I don't know what.
Score - 1
Key #6 - Take Care of Yourself
I've said it before in this series that without this one, the others do not matter. If you don't have your health, then you don't have much, and for this one I give myself a '5,' only because I still smoke (I know....bad John!), and my diet is not of the eat-too-much kind, but more of the don't eat-enough type. I do exercise regularly and take vitamins, including from healthier foods...most of the time!
Score - 5
Key #7 - Stop Blaming Everyone Else
This key speaks to the "woe is me" set, and here I give myself a '3.' This is a way of thinking I think I learned growing up and it is hard to fight off, especially when things are going bad. This is one key I do try to keep in mind often and for that I'd give myself an '8' for effort. It's all about ATTITUDE!
Score - 3
Key #8 - Expect Bliss
This title came right from Ford's essay and again, it's all about attitude. I'll give myself a little bit of a higher score on this one, a '5' because my optimism does shine through on occasion.
Score - 5
Key #9 - Be Honest
This one's a tricky one. I would say that overall I am an honest person and I would rate myself an '8' here. My only detraction is due to another issue I have, which I discovered in Dan Millman's book, The Life You Were Born to Live. The book is based on numerology, and it helped me become aware of an issue I have in not being direct with people. I know that is because I hate conflict and dislike hurting people's feelings, but it often gets me into trouble, and thus the loss of two points in my score.
Score - 8
Key #10 - Don't Be a Hater
At first thought, I wanted to give myself a '10' on this, but after further consideration I changed it to an '8.' Though I consider myself a person who loves and appreciates people from all walks of life, I do find myself hating on plenty of people I come into contact with on a daily basis, on the roads for instance. Ooh, I can do a whole piece on that!
Score - 8
Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement here. I know this is not scientific by any means, 59 out of a possible 100 points is not optimal. I'm kind of glad I did this, because now I'll be thinking about it more which means hopefully I can improve on my behaviors and attitudes so I can be a bit happier in my life. I dunno, what do you think?