Make the most of yourself

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The thing I want most right now is something I cannot control.  It depends on the whims, interests and subjective opinions of people I’ve never met.  The best I can is to try to perfect my work and continue to put it out there into the world, until I achieve my goal.   The only way to fail is to give up.

It’s so hard when you can’t control the thing you want most – like, for instance, finding love.  You could go out on a 1,000 internet dates and not connect with anyone, only to meet your perfect match on a train during your daily commute.  Since we have limited ability to affect anything that involves another person’s will, we have to focus on creating our own happiness.

This is where Emerson comes in: we make the most of ourselves.  We look at the aspects of our life over which we have complete control.


One thing we can control is our physical well-being.  We can eat better – less processed food, more fruits and veggies.  Cut down the alcohol.  And start to move a bit more.  I know, exercise… bleck.  But it doesn’t have to be a chore.

After Conall was born, I lost baby weight by carrying him for long, daily walks.  As he’s gotten older his willingness to be carried has become limited, as has my ability to lift the lump.  Without this daily exercise, I started to put on weight again, much to my frustration.  I really didn’t want to join a gym, so I started to think about activities that I used to love: gymnastics, diving and dance, for instance.  I’ve been able to find classes that I enjoy and have even started coaching – something I’ve always wanted to try.

Just being up, off the couch and away from the fridge can work wonders on our appearance.  Wii games, walks through a park away from our neighborhood, yoga, playing catch with a kid – it all adds up.  The key is to set small, manageable goals, and build on them.  Don’t start by trying to run a marathon the first day – maybe just take a quick walk around the block.   I’m often motivated to walk longer distances when I’m listening to a podcast.   And the best way to success is to find something you actually enjoy doing.  If that’s joining a local wiffle ball team, great!  If it’s listening to music your kids hate while you walk, fantastic!


It’s never too late to learn something new.  Anyone with an mp3 player has access to courses at some of the world’s best universities and think tanks.

See my article on Rebel Mom about iTunes University for more.

Make time during the day for yourself, even if it’s 20 minutes getting lost in a book before bed.  Go to your local library or town hall’s website – it’s remarkable how many fascinating speakers pass through small towns.  Listen to a Ted Talk – these are inspirational, educational speeches (usually less than 20 minutes long) given by some of today’s leading figures in literature, technology and education.  If you feel like you’re in a rut from your daily routine, expose your mind to something a little different – give your brain something new to think.


One thing I’ve learned over the last few months is that there is nothing wrong with indulging a childhood fantasy or lifelong interest.  I thought I was much too old for gymnastics and diving, but it turns out there are a lot of people my age just starting to learn the sports for fun.  Always wanted to act?  Most communities have local theater programs.  Want to learn to knit?  Or sail?  Or dance? Or ride a horse?  Or work at a zoo?  These are just a few of the local clubs I’ve recently found.  And there’s always to help you find other people interested in anything from dogs, to art, to board games, to gardening to baseball to….

All day long

Emerson also said, “You are what you think about all day long.”  We may not be able to control some important aspects of our life, but we can choose what we think about and what we do with ourselves.  We can make the most of who we are and what our daily experience includes.  The more we fill our lives with “want to’s” instead of just “have to’s” and the more we explore our own interests, the more complete we will feel as individuals, no matter what is happening in the realm of that which we cannot control.

Happiness is not something that happens to us, it’s something we create when we make the most of our ourselves.

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Meg – great post as always! Everything you said here comes down to one thing: believing in yourself. So many people have low self esteem because other people in their lives aren’t supportive and can make them believe they can’t do it. I hope what you’ve said here is enough to make everyone think about their own dreams and goals and how they can make them happen – and most importantly, be brave enough to disregard the negative opinions of others, or disengage from those people completely if they’re not supportive. (I never realized how much my ex-husband squashed my confidence until I got divorced and that is one of the main reasons we’re no longer together).
    As far as changing what is in your control: right on sister! We all have the power to make our lives whatever we want them to be. We just have to get over the fear of change, and believe that it can happen.
    Can’t wait for you next post!

  2. I couldn’t agree more with this, and the way you perfectly framed it in your conclusion.

    And I laughed out loud at “lifting the lump”.

  3. Great post Meghan! It comes at a time when I’m seeking motivation to get around more by foot. I’m finding I drive everywhere I go when I could easily walk, saving on gas and getting more exercise.

  4. I came in to work today, feeling blue (I think we’ve had the 40 days and 40 nights of rain.) Just reading it made me take a deep breath and start the day over! Thanks.

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