The Top 7 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Life by Gregg Hake

Leonardo DaVinci once wrote, “Life well spent is long.” Socrates wrote some 2,000 years earlier, “Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.” To be sure, a life well lived is ideal, but optional.

While I typically prefer to consider the positive attributes of any subject in order to provide stepping stones for progress, sometimes it is valuable to enumerate the most common obstacles that prevent forward movement, to the same end. This list, while in no particular order, should help you to navigate several of the trickiest areas of human consciousness:

The Top 7 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Life

  1. Maintaining the belief that life is out to get you or that your world is conspiring to ruin your day or worse, your life. As Mark Twain poignantly suggested, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Life’s compulsion is growth, continual expansion. Motivated by the power of life, you can flourish like the flower that finds its way through a crack in the asphalt.
  2. Dwelling obsessively in the past. Robert Frost, the great American poet, penned: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Don’t let the past rob you of the beauty, the wonder and the opportunities of the present.
  3. Living in constant fear of the future. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, philosopher and poet who led the Transcendentalist wisely remarked: “With the past I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” If you live in fear of the unknown, of what is to come, you will likely be paralyzed or at best distracted relative to the right course of action to be taken now.
  4. Failing to appreciate your resources, as they are presently configured. Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman and social reformer in the 19th century, stated: “The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher who walked the earth some 1,900 years ago voiced this gem: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for things he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Make full use of your present resources – your friends, your things, your skills, your understanding and so on – and your world will expand.
  5. Cruising through your day on ‘autopilot.‘ Pulitzer Prize winning author Thornton Wilder declared: “We can only said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Good living requires a conscious, active and alert mind; existing does not.
  6. Refusing to forgive. George Herbert, a Welsh poet born in the late 1500s wrote: “He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.” Forgiveness lightens the present and enlarges the future.
  7. Seeking company in misery. W. E. B. DuBois, the tireless civil rights activist, issued the challenge: “A little less complaint and whining, and a little more dogged work and manly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills.” Commiseration varnishes over a wound that could otherwise heal. Helen Keller added: “As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.”

As I mentioned above, a successful and fulfilling life is optional. Either you make decisions and develop habits that allow you to harness the inexhaustible power of life or you move awkwardly and painfully down the slippery slope called “existence.” The choice is yours.


17 thoughts on “The Top 7 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Life by Gregg Hake

  1. Brad

    I read your blog daily – once in the am & then again at the end of the day to read the responses.
    Thank you to everyone for taking the time in your busy lives to comment – your thoughts have proven to be very timely in so many instances.

    On Sunday evenings I write a weekly focus for myself. This week I’ve focused my attention on “expecting to be surprised” – I was inspired by one of Gregg’s blogs from last week.
    Last night in Ft. Lauderdale Florida I had the privilege of participating in a workshop for Health Professionals – the topic was “Building a Successful and Sustainable Practice”. The room was packed, all different types of Practitioners were there. Our speaker emphasized the point that success is largely determined by attitude – this is nothing new, in fact it dates back thousands of years in Chinese parables.
    At the very end a few of the participants totally surprised me and stood up to say a few words about the company I work with – this was totally unsolicited by me – these were heart felt sincere comments, not about me, not about our products, but about the service and support that my team provides. My team doesn’t have to support my clients in this way, they simply do it because they want to help others succeed. I can’t describe the sense of pride and appreciation I felt last night for my team as these practitioners “wrestled” for the stage just to say a few words about my team – and that’s what we are, a team! We are a team of individuals seeking to make a positive difference in the world and the stories my clients shared were a wonderful reminder for me.
    Life is full of choices…..but expect to be surprised and you will be, delightfully!


  2. Chris

    F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Don’t write because you want to say something, write because you have something to say.” I’ve consistently found your blog to prove the latter. Great points today – helpful obstacles to become conscious of.


  3. Rosa Maysen

    Since ‘stumbling’ across your blog, I have found it to be a source of daily inspiration and I concur that a life, specifically mine, should be lived to add value during its span. Hence a koan kind of comically emerged in my thoughts today, “What is the sound of seven back doors slamming shut?” The answer to which is found through this post, and the way forward made clear.


  4. J.J.Mc

    Reading Reina’s comment encouraged me to blog about this.
    Had a long conversation with a friend and the short of it was why they were justified to hate someone and they extent of their commitment to destroying this person. As I listened I mourned the loss of my friend’s objectivity and the path they had devoted them self to. Ruining your life is usually not a one time choice. Like any addiction being swallowed up with hate, negative attitudes and revenge is a dark hole and the longer you fall the fewer foot holds there are to pull yourself out.
    I too have to make a choice and your post today was ideal for me. I mourn the loss of my friend but I won’t ruin a perfectly good life too. Thanks


  5. Reina

    Those of us are so fortunate, who choose to read your blog and apply the wisdom practically in our personal worlds. Life does not usually come with an instruction manual but the beautiful points that you so specifically continue to provide are wonderful road signs that can help any of us find our way. Thanks so much!


  6. Andrea

    Goodness Gregg – I love this, and just had to tell you. I have way too many “Real time” examples of this currently (on BOTH sides of the coin) that it is almost comical. (And I love to talk – so you know how hard it is for me not to share!) Perfect way to start my day – You rock! Bring it on …


  7. Doug

    Auto pilot will be an accumulation of the other 6 things you mentioned. Auto pilot is our our habits and /or the subconscious feelings that dictate our behavior. As Covey says, “You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.” Great list to see why we act the way we do and change our thinking. That’s where it starts.


  8. Leni

    In reflection this morning what an opportunity we all have to commit to changing our life and in turn may the world a better place. It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from Goethe, “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance o f which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. I realized at a young age life is only what you will make of it so many blessed opportunities came along that I took full advantage of that has made the person I am today. So let’s make the most of life! Thanks!


  9. Colin

    These are great things to consider, and I’m sure almost everyone has a tendency to do at least one of these things. This is a great opportunity to eliminate that action!


  10. Kimberly

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. I love waking up to this blog. Setting the course for my day in a positive direction makes all the difference and again before I go to sleep making sure that thankfulness and forgiveness are my hearts resting place is the other side of it.
    It is a deliberate choice to make…just like breakfast.
    Have a great day.


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