And it is easy to believe you are not good enough if you listen to everybody else. - Mackenzie Astin
Why don’t we believe in our ability to live a life of true purpose? I feel that one of the factors that prevents us from living fulfilling lives is our environment telling us that we are not good enough. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we go to bed, we are assaulted with the idea that we are inadequate. When we put on the morning news or radio, we often become immersed in a fantasy world of happy people living extraordinary lives. As we commute to work, we take in advertisements promoting unrealistic lifestyles and body image. And at work, all day long, we are told that we aren't good enough at what we do, that we don’t work hard enough, that we are replaceable and very lucky to have our jobs. When we come home from work, we turn on the TV or computer and are confronted with things that we feel we can never live up to, or on the other side of the spectrum, things that fill us with fear and sadness--even in this case, we often become desensitized. Whether outwardly good or bad, such a passive lifestyle keeps us trapped in a frame of mind that does not bring out our best and truest selves.
We can easily become locked into this day-to-day cycle, and as a result we are afraid to reach toward our deepest inspirations. Fortunately, changing our environments can positively affect our belief in ourselves. Of course, I don’t mean that we have to travel great distances or make drastic decisions. Simply by being more conscious of what we allow to influence us, we can positively change how we feel about our lives. Perhaps we choose to stop watching the morning news, or limit the amount of popular media that we take in each day. Or, we simply try to pay more attention to how such elements play into our sense of self. We may feel inspired to read or listen to works about spirituality, mindful living and personal development. We can strive to find a work environment that inspires and supports us, or at least seek out and take hold of the most nourishing aspects of our present situation. We can take shelter of communities and relationships that uplift us and fill us with warmth and gratitude. At the heart of the matter, we all have free will to choose and work toward the lives we want. I'm not saying it's easy-- I know from experience that it can be a real challenge to live a life of purpose. It may be a lonely road to travel at first, but eventually your determination will help you to find others who are traveling down the same path, trying sincerely to live their lives with purpose. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and those first steps can mark the beginning of a wonderful journey.