It’s not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.


Too often, people strive to own things in a misguided effort to achieve inner peace and happiness. They believe that having a new wardrobe, a new car, a bigger home, or other such material possessions will make them happy or successful. What so many fail to understand is that happiness truly comes from within; it comes from a strong sense of self, not from the acquisition of external things.

Taking personal ownership of your current state of affairs is the first step to achieving a happier and more fulfilling life. When you accept that your current situation is the result of all the choices you’ve made in your life right up to the present moment, you then realize that you are also in direct control of your future. No one else is pulling the strings of your life, unless you are allowing them to. Only you have the authority to steer your own ship.

Beginning today, you can make a choice to change and take complete ownership of your life. In one single moment in time you can decide to take a new path and free yourself from the crippling mind-set that has been holding you back. Never again will you allow yourself the luxury of making excuses for why you cannot make progress. No longer will you indulge yourself with self-pity and the endless “poor me–isms.” Blaming other people or outside events for your own misfortune are exercises not worthy of your consideration—your integrity is diminished, and your self-esteem will only suffer from these unproductive, time-wasting habits.

Tragedy is prevalent throughout our society. It’s a sad fact of life that too many children grow up in abusive environments. Too often, otherwise perfectly normal people battle drug and gambling addictions or alcoholism. Poverty, hunger, and disease continue to be real challenges for millions of innocent people. In most cases, however, isn’t it true that whatever your personal situation, there is someone else who is worse off than you? If the answer is yes, then doesn’t it make sense to replace the thoughts of “woe is me” with thoughts of gratitude for the many blessings you do enjoy?

Rather than giving up, become determined to make your life better! You can, if you decide that you can.

In general, people who are chronically unhappy suffer from low self-esteem and have a strong sense of personal insecurity. Surprisingly, many of these same people are seen by others as appearing to have everything in the world going for them. They appear to be in-control, goal-oriented high achievers. It’s common for these individuals to be strong type-A personalities; they tend to be overachievers and even admit to being somewhat of a perfectionist. Yet, in the back of their minds these very same people suffer from feelings of anxiety and even depression. Despite their obvious strengths in the eyes of their peers, they continue to feel as if they just don’t measure up. As a direct result of their ongoing negative self-talk, the physical body finally responds with ailments such as sleep disorders, anxiety, and panic attacks. In the worst cases, depression can overtake the individual, and it can even lead to suicide.

Whether you are simply unhappy with your current situation or you suffer from more serious obstacles, your decision to take personal ownership of your past and present will determine your future.

As a first step, you must begin to take note of the things you are constantly telling yourself. Your self-talk is a primary factor in your ability to overcome any major challenge. If you are constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good enough or that you aren’t smart enough or attractive enough, it should not surprise you when you continually sabotage yourself in business and relationships.

Taking ownership is more than simply accepting your situation or taking responsibility for the decisions that have brought you to this place in your life. Taking ownership also means that you are committed to taking action toward resolving the challenges that you’ve identified as barriers to your personal success. Taking action may involve getting help from a doctor, a pastor, a friend, or from anyone who has the knowledge and skills to guide you toward a path of self-reliance, self-acceptance, and an improved sense of self-worth.

If more people would put the same level of energy and enthusiasm into taking personal ownership of their lives as they do in blaming, complaining, and finding fault in others or in “the system,” just imagine how much more meaningful their lives would be. Imagine the sense of fulfillment they would enjoy.

Unhappy/low-ownership individuals focus on

* making excuses
* getting even
* having others help them out
* asking, “What for?” or, “What’s the use?”

Happy/high-ownership individuals focus on

* making progress
* getting going
* finding answers to help themselves
* asking, “Why not?” or, “What do I need to do next?”

Now, imagine yourself being that happy, successful individual who has taken ownership of his life. You’ve overcome your personal challenges by stepping out of your comfort zone and by taking action. You’ve educated yourself to the point that you are now an expert on the very issue that was once holding you back.

Personal Development and development is not always easy. Nothing worth having in this life is easy. However, going through life assuming that the best is yet to come versus believing that the worst is here to stay is simply a more thoughtful and productive choice.

My wish for you is that you decide today to take personal ownership of your life. Take credit for all the good things you’ve done, and take ownership of any bad choices you’ve made. Accept the blame or the glory for your personal circumstances. Learn from the mistakes that you’ve made in order to avoid repeating them. Read, learn, grow, and live a happier life—for you and for the benefit of all of those who love you.

What’s the alternative now that you know what it takes to improve your life? Isn’t it true that a person who chooses not to read is no better off than a person who can’t read? The bigger failure would be the person who has the tools to succeed but, because he lacks the self-discipline or the work ethic, simply chooses not to make the effort. Understand that in the past, fear has paralyzed you from taking action. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, all of the obstacles and barriers that seem to be adding weight onto your shoulders today can soon become sources of motivation that prepare you for a brighter tomorrow.

Begin now; decide today.

I will find a way, or make one.
– Orison Marden

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Richard Gorham is President of, which is dedicated to providing free tools and resources for today’s aspiring leaders, offering high-quality, results-focused tools in the areas of business planning, leadership development, customer service, sales management, and team building. Download your free gift and subscribe to the monthly newsletter today.