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If I Am Not for Myself, Who Will Be?

Your Best Future Life

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author Kristen Houghton
author Kristen Houghton

I am going to take the next six months off to reassess what I want to do and where I want to go in the next part of my life. The pandemic has made me realize how very precious life is and how being true to myself is a positive and necessary part of that preciousness.

I’ve always read a great deal and during the last year I’ve tripled my reading. The Constitution, religions, politics, good fiction and humor—all have found their way onto my Kindle and onto my book shelves. I have developed a fondness for quotes. At this moment in time, two quotes have made a tremendous impression on me.

One is from the Talmud:

 “If I am not for myself, who will be? If not now, then when?”

The other is from Eleanor Roosevelt:

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

The words from both quotes have never spoken more clearly to me than now. I must be for myself. Now is my time. I alone must pursue the beauty of my dreams.

Taking six months to take a look at my future isn’t a resolution—quite frankly I detest making resolutions. They’re too pat, too simplistic and many are broken within two weeks.

No, this isn’t a resolution but a long-thought-out decision. A decision to take the next six months to reassess my life has come about because of my desire to live life to my fullest capacity and to appreciate the meaning of being fully alive. The pandemic has certainly alerted us all to the fragility of life, the crap shoot if you will, of life. It has made us slow down, to a crawl, the life we used to live and made changes in our daily lives that two years ago would have seemed unthinkable.

I have made a decision to focus on my own happiness and on what and who will enhance my life, not drain it. This is not a selfish act. In my first non-fiction book, And Then I’ll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First, I wrote about ‘self-ness’. Self-ness is the act of taking a pause in your life, a life where you put the wants and needs of others—family, work, friends—above your own self. It is a pause when you stop putting your own needs and wants aside, a time when you let yourself focus on what you, not anyone else, truly need to live a happy, fulfilling life. I’m doing that for the next six months. It is my time. I need to practice ‘self-ness’ and make needed, healthy, and positive changes.

This is a journey for me, an inner journey that will affect my entire life and how I choose to live it. It’s a turning away from things—and some people as well—who are not healthy for me emotionally. Negative emotions are also felt in our physical body and that is not the way to live a happy life.  

Six months is not a long time but it will suffice to get me moving on toward the next chapter of my life, a chapter that will consist of making my life and happiness a priority. If I make wise choices, these next six months can make lasting changes for me.

I know that, even as a child, I had a tremendous capacity for happiness and saw life as a joyful gift. I need, I want, to get that back. This is my journey, my book, and the next chapter will be written with hope and a renewed expectation of happiness. Life is not something that is expendable. My life, your life, is worth living as well as we can.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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