THE BLOG
06/08/2016 12:35 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2017

On Life's Terms

To be willing to live life on life's terms is a tall order. Before getting an idea about the size of the task, let's look at what life's terms are all about. We can say that life's terms are the conditions determining what it means to be alive. The conditions are twofold: 1) Our desire, intention and action, and 2) Fate. An old definition of the word fate is will of the gods. We can understand the will of the gods as people, events and things out of our control. Unfortunately, we are not told that fate will remain infinitely larger than our intentions. The result is that the typical ego will attempt to live life on its own terms.

Deciding Not To Live Life on Life's Terms

It doesn't take much to begin to understand that fate is not only very large, but that it can also be quite hazardous. We find ourselves having to take care of ourselves in the light of failure, loss, defeat, injury, illness and betrayal. Once we are duly acquainted with the inherent dangers fate presents us, there are three ways we can decide not to live life on life's terms.

1) Protesting the perilous nature of fate. Protest is a common reaction to life's dangers, especially when we discover it includes dying. Protest is driven by the illusion we don't have to play by life's terms. Protest keeps us in an adversarial relationship with life. We delude ourselves into thinking that rather than having to surrender to all that is out of our control, we have the power to protest. It is an illusion of power. Our protest keeps us at war with life, insulated from the beauty, love and fulfillment that is possible. If we don't act from our desire, creating our own life story, we likely will live in someone else's story. The protest does not emancipate us from the slings and arrows of fate. The only possible way not to participate may be is suicide.

2) Deciding that our desire and intention hold sovereignty. This is typically a heroic gesture whereby we pretend we hold domain over people and events that are way out of our control. It is often energized by arrogance in order to avoid feeling helpless, scared and inadequate. Fate will often work on such inflation by offering a myriad of opportunities for defeat and failure. If the defeat does not open us to living life on life's terms, then it is common for addiction, anger and cynicism to take place.

3) Deciding that fate or life is just too big to deal with. I often call this, the "I'm taking my ball and going home" syndrome. There is a decision here to remain risk adverse. The delusion is that failure and the accompanying feelings of remorse, guilt and inadequacy can be avoided by being highly passive. The reality is that when we forsake our desire and intention we betray ourselves and begin living in accord with someone else's desire. The outcome is a lack of self-respect, diminished self-confidence and resentment accompanied by passive aggression directed toward the person choreographing our life.

Deciding To Live Life On Life's Terms

Deciding to live life on life's terms is an endearing soul task. The immanent endearment reflects our acceptance of who we are while honoring the immensity of fate. A strengthening of our ability to be discerning and a deepening of our acceptance of all that is out of our control will need to be developed. There are several key focuses:

Calling off the protest. Calling off the protest of the perilous nature of fate means becoming more accepting of fate's insecurities and unpredictability.

The willingness to continue developing an ability to discern what is in and out of our control. This is a life-long lesson. When the ego feels bold, it mistakenly decides it can control too much. When the ego is shy or fear-driven, the misjudgment is that little or nothing is in our control.

Accepting how little is in our control. This calls for an evolving humility where we graciously learn to accept our limits. When grace guides our acceptance, we don't see what is out of our control as simply unfortunate, but rather as an opportunity to be further informed by life.

Becoming risk amenable. We don't fear risks. We fear how we will treat ourselves if a risk we take has unfavorable consequences. Hence, in order to accept life's terms of living our desire, we will need to learn to forgive ourselves when our actions do not generate desired results.

Benefits Of Living Life On Life's Terms

There are a number of advantages to living life on life's terms:

Learning how to live from our desire. We experience the fulfillment and meaning of living in our own stories. A life of desire entails learning to identify desire, how to act in support of desire, how to be grateful for the opportunity to manifest desire, how to make clear and concrete requests of others and how to effectively cope with delayed gratification.

Acceptance of the extremely small role we play in the large scheme of things. This leads to a deepened capacity for humility and honesty. It also entails an acceptance of the likelihood that our finest achievements will go unnoticed.

More serenity. As we call off our attempts to change and control what is out of our control, our lives are touched by an abiding equanimity.

Reverence for the immensity of fate. From our acceptance of life's terms often sprouts a reverence for the mystery and vastness of fate.

Opportunity to learn. We begin to appreciate how much we can learn from living on life's terms. When fate is an impediment to our desire, there is ample chance to learn about: love, forgiveness, patience, surrender, acceptance, compassion, asking for support and self-awareness.

Living life on life's terms means learning how to live over and over again. The bad news is such learning never comes automatically. We will likely need to spend time either defining ourselves as too small to live life or convinced we can master and conquer life. It can take awhile before we give up being wrong sized. We are given the fire of desire that can illuminate the path we belong on. When our desire is accompanied by acceptance for that which lies beyond us, we agree to life's terms, and live a life well lived.