“When we’re young, we spend a lot of time planning our lives,” Maria Shriver writes in I’ve Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life (2018). “We look for someone to plan it with. We look for friends to complete it, kids to enhance it, careers to enrich it. We work hard at making all that happen. But life has a way of upending our carefully made plans, and all of a sudden, we can find ourselves having to redesign our lives all over again.”
Taken from the chapter “Life is Yours to Create…and to Re-create”*, Shriver reminds us of the agency we have in turning our lives around – however many times necessary – regardless of our circumstances.
Recalling examples of those whose lives collapsed around them, she writes:
“In each of these cases, turning their lives around required the courage to face the fear of the unknown. It takes courage to push up against the way it is or the way it has been. It takes courage to push back and be creative with the gift of life. But that’s exactly what building a life of our own requires: thinking outside the box, being creative, being flexible, facing the fear of the unknown, stepping into it, and being willing to start over.”
Echoing the words of an icon whose business was founded on the notion of “thinking outside the box”, she continues:
“As Steve Jobs pointed out, life can either be limiting, safe, and secure or it can be wide open, creative, and sometimes scary. Your life is yours to create and then recreate. As Mr. Jobs said, ‘Everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it.’”
She concludes with a prayer:
“Dear God, you are the God of transformation. Help me to be brave. Help me to trust you and believe that I am here to write my life story in a way that brings glory to you and joy to myself and others. Amen.”
*The chapter starts with a favorite Rumi quote: “It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”
I’ve Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life (2018) is a delightful read in its entirety, broken into small chapters packed with wisdom, guidance and encouragement.
- Paulo Coelho on Taking Risks and Embracing Life’s Magic Moments
- The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Four Qualities of the Mind that Lead to Joyful Living
- Saint Augustine on the Happy Life and Finding Joy
- Anne Lamott on Joy, Contentment and the Value We Have Within
- Claiming Responsibility for Our Lives: Thomas Merton on Discovering Meaning and Purpose Within