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All About You: Make the best of your circumstances

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

“Love the life you’ve been given.”

I recently saw this advice on a T-shirt while I was grocery shopping. It reminded me of a phrase I repeat to myself often: amor fati.

Stoic philosophers introduced the term (in Greek), but it gained more recent notoriety from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote: “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it – all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary – but love it.”

There’s no getting around it. What your circumstances are now can’t be denied. If you’ve burned your hand (as I did last week) and your skin is red and blistered, this is your current reality. Now, I’m not saying “amor fati” about my burned skin, but it’s given me a lesson in mindfulness, and I’m grateful for that. To love the life you’ve been given means to love the stuff you like, appreciate the lessons from the things you don’t, and realize that being alive and aware is a blessing no matter your circumstances.

One of my favorite books is Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl experienced the harshest of conditions in a concentration camp during World War II. Yet, he rose above his circumstances and found purpose in his predicament by helping others and having a grateful attitude about life.

You and I could certainly make a list of what we wish was different about our work-life balance, the social turmoil abounding, environmental damage and even the lack of cashiers at our local stores. If it spurs you to contribute to positive change, it has its merit. But if all it does is upset you, it’s worthless. There will never be a time when everything is perfect and just the way you want it. So, why fret over your fate that includes various inconveniences?

Still, you can do things to improve your lot in life while enjoying your present situation. I let myself get “out of shape” again. I’ve done this so many times. Although my weight is fine, I can only do a couple of pushups. I’m not letting it bother me much because I can’t change it right now, and I don’t want to mar my enjoyment of the moments I have today. However, I plan to do a couple of pushups every day until they become a few!

Loving your fate doesn’t mean not caring about improving. On the contrary, because adverse and often surprising events (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) invade our life, it’s vital to our happiness that we enjoy what we’re experiencing right now. So, here are three quick tips that will help you “love your fate.”

‘It could’ve been worse’

I’ve mentioned my grandma before and her witty sayings. One I still remember is: “From the day you’re born, till you ride in the hearse, it could’ve been worse.” She’d say that when my sisters and I complained to her about something “terrible” that happened to us at school. The saying holds much merit. The burn on my hand is severe enough that it’ll leave a scar, but it’s not infected and I didn’t lose any function of my fingers. So, I’m not bummed out about it. It’s no big deal. Plus, I learned a lesson.

This is your best life

You may think that things haven’t worked out exactly the way you wanted them to. But how do you know that? You don’t. What you’re experiencing right now and your circumstances may be the best for you. Consider that.

Don’t fear the future

“Que Sera, Sera” was a hit song by singer and actress Doris Day way back in the 1950s. It’s about not knowing what the future holds and not letting it bother you. “Whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see,” is part of the song’s memorable lyrics. Often, why we don’t “amor fati” is because we’re too busy fretting over the future. What’s better is to “love the life you’ve been given.”

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at makesafetyfun.com.

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