I play Dungeons and Dragons. It is a whole magnificent pile of the best fun you can have with friends around a table. Being a role-playing game you get to choose what you character will be like, their physical attributes, as well as their mental, social, and spiritual ones. They might be a mountain of muscle but not the sharpest tool in the shed. They might devoutly worship their deity to help those in need, but have a secret love of pastries which frequently gets them into trouble. They might be tall and slender which helps them to be fast but also means they are prone to injury. They might get on well with the people they meet, or find it difficult to think of what to say in conversation. They might live an isolated life, preferring the company of books, or need people around them to accomplish their goals. Once you’ve designed that character, it’s up to you to embody the as well as you are able when you’re at the table.
What if we treated life like this? What if it was our choice to be the person we want to be? Well, here’s some great news: It is! It just happens to be a little more difficult than writing words and numbers on paper.
There are days when I feel on top of the world, like nothing can stop me. Yesterday was one of those days. I finished the first draft of my first book. Woohoo! I played music at church and felt really good being part of the team leading the congregation in worship. Some of the church then had lunch in a park, sharing fellowship, food, and football. When I got home I rested, stretched some muscles that sorely needed it, then played and sang along to some of my favourite songs. It was a productive day. Thankfully this feeling of motivation rolled over into today, too, even though I chose to stay up too late. I finished my own tasks at work and helped others out where possible after that. I even started moving my book into the manuscript program Scrivener, to help me keep track of all its characters and locations.
This type of day is still an anomaly. I still often find myself wallowing in self pity about decisions I’ve made and losing any momentum I’ve built up. Each of these decisions could have been made differently. I could have been more productive instead of lying in bed for a few more minutes. I could have been stretching and strengthening my body for getting back into playing soccer. I could have done this, I could have done that, I could have…
Every time we make a mistake we have a choice. We can rue our poor decision making process, and fall into feeling sorry for ourselves for too long. Or we can use the information we’ve gained to build resilience and make better decisions in the future. It is difficult to make this latter choice every time, but it is not impossible. We must actively work on it over time, but we are capable of forming the helpful thought patterns that will encourage us to do it.
When something goes wrong I’m sure many of us have heard the phrase, “It’s character building”. Let’s take that concept to heart. Let’s be proactive about it and build our character with integrity and kindness. Instead of acting to be someone else, let’s be ourselves. The world will be better for it. We will be better for it.