Quite Continental Charm School: Day 9 — A Life Lived With Purpose

09/02/2012 § 8 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested after protesting near
Buckingham Palace, 1907.  Image via The Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose
–Margaret Thatcher

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”
–Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death so live, live, LIVE!
–Auntie Mame

Day 9: A Life Lived With Purpose
A charmed life is a life that is grabbed by the horns and lived — a life with direction, a life with purpose.  A charmed life is not spent on the sidelines, accepting whatever is happening simply because it is happening.

For most of us, life lends itself easily to patterns and routine.  Our days can end up looking much the same: wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, rinse and repeat.  We can spend years passively joining the morning rush hour, then the lunch crush, then the evening rush hour.  Isn’t it interesting how this natural inclination towards monotony can simultaneously leave you feeling comforted yet not very fulfilled?  Today, I want you to start living your most passionate life.  I want you to upset some of those apple carts.

While there are many routines you can’t — nor shouldn’t — break (e.g., going to work, paying your taxes, visiting the dentist twice yearly), I want you to turn your attention to your practically imperceptible acceptance of conditions or situations that are less than satisfying.  And then think about why you accept them.  Perhaps you think it might be too difficult to get what it is that you actually want.  Perhaps you don’t think you deserve it.  Perhaps you think things might eventually get better because you are patiently waiting for your boss to promote you or for your husband to realize he could be treating you better.  And it’s true, it could get better.  But I wouldn’t bet on it just happening.

Today is about figuring out what you want and how you are going to get it.  It is about refusing to let life pass you by.  It is about refusing to wake up in that beautiful house, with that beautiful wife, wondering “Well, how did I get here?”  It is about making decisions about how to make things better, putting them into action, and fighting to see them through — no matter how big or small.  It can be about improving your relationship with your girlfriend or agitating for political change.

Historically, I haven’t always been great at this, which is why I think I decided to talk about it today.  I know what it feels like to be frustrated, to feel like you are a victim of circumstance, to feel like there isn’t really anything you can do to make things more satisfying, to feel like it would be too hard to take control of the situation.   But I also know how rewarding it feels to take charge and move forward on a path of my own choosing.  To lead a purposeful life is to lead a more satisfying, exciting and aware existence.  It’s on the top of my to-do list and I hope you will join me.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

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