ValueOptions Logo February 2006
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For a Good Life, Giving Up Is Not an Option
 

Over the years I have observed many people with all sorts of lifestyles and from all walks of life. One pattern stands out. People who live successful lives all share the same three qualities:

  • They know how to get along with people and feel connected to all of humanity.
  • They look upon their mistakes as opportunities to do better and to learn from their mistakes.
  • They persevere and do not quit when setbacks and tragedies enter their lives.

Dr. Scott Peck tells us in the first chapter of his book, The Road Less Traveled, that life is difficult. Not only does he tell us that life is difficult but he instructs us to accept this as a fact and to stop acting surprised and shocked when setbacks and tragedy enter our lives.

Examples of perseverance

I learned early in life the importance of not giving up. As a young boy, I was surrounded by Greek immigrants who came to the United States to carve out a better life for themselves. They endured the long voyage from Greece to the United States by boat. They entered competitive cities not knowing the language and with few skills. Like many other immigrants from all over the world they found hardships and discouragements to be a daily diet, but they did not give up on creating a new life.

Terry Anderson was a reporter who was captured years ago in the Middle East. His captors kept him imprisoned for seven years, chained to a wall with a three-foot chain. Now free, he tells his audiences during public speaking engagements that he never gave up during those awful years. He says he found strength and inspiration to not give up by reading one book over and over again: the Bible. It is filled with the stories of many who suffered and did not give up.

Advice for perseverance

If we had a textbook on how to live life, not giving up would be the first chapter. And in this chapter would be the following advice:

  • Accept that life is difficult.
  • Accept that the universe does not operate under the principle of fairness. Life is not fair.
  • Think of yourself as a problem solver throughout your life because problems are inevitable.

Living life is something none of us master. All we can hope for is to get better and better at directing our lives. With this in mind, make three lists over the next few days. Take your time to consider these tasks:

  • Looking back over your life, list those times when you chose not to give up and how it affected your life.
  • Looking back over your life, list those times you did give up and note how this decision affected your life.
  • Now, while looking to the future, make a list of the goals you want to achieve in life. Prioritize these goals—list the most important goal first and the least important goal last. Next, make the conscious decision to not give up on striving to achieve the goals you have prioritized.

Looking for inspiration

No doubt you will find yourself discouraged from time to time as you strive to reach these goals. You will be discouraged by setbacks and you will be discouraged when adversity enters your life. So you will need a way to keep yourself inspired:

  • Rely on your faith to inspire your dedication to go forward.
  • Associate with friends whose lives reflect not giving up.
  • Read about others who had every reason to give up and did not.

I’m sure as you examine your own life you will see that when you chose to not give up, you advanced your life. These choices from your past will inspire you to deal with the events of life that lie ahead of you. Good luck!

Resource

It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong. Penguin Putnam, 2000.

 
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