The Best Way To Love
Bill Cottringer

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

The lucky few who figure out the best answer to the main “why” question in life early on represent the élite 5% of the population that enjoys genuine success and authentic happiness for the longest time. This is the small group who shines the light for the rest of us trying to answer this question, which most of us are struggling to learn the answer to, through trial and error, frequently getting stuck in the errors.

The main challenge in life for us all is: (a) to know what this challenge is (b) try to meet it ourselves, and (c) then show others how to do what we have learned. This main life challenge that eventually emerges from the chaos for us all is this: How to build the required character to gracefully maneuver through life’s inevitable minefields of misfortunes by growing the personal qualities that are necessary to do this. These essential qualities are courage, hope, and a delicate mixture of patience and urgency in finding the right perspective about this challenge. And of course, the added challenge is to show others how to do this too, with love.

Meeting this fundamental challenge is what parenting, working, playing, relationships and the rest of life is all about. It is simply the best way to love, but also the most difficult thing to do. Here are a few helpful strategies for learning, growing and improving your character in being more successful in meeting life’s greatest challenge for us all—not letting the inevitable misfortunes rob us of the happiness and enjoyment of our fortunes, so we can keep moving forward and get to the finish line, standing tall on a positive note and receiving the applause we deserve.

1. Try to rationally disprove this character-building challenge as not being the most fundamental common drive behind all possible desirable outcomes in anything you try to do, as well as the main ingredient to any real and lasting success you see around you. When you exhaust any and all possible exceptions, the truth of what is left and knowing the utter importance of this challenge finally takes hold and you stop looking elsewhere for the ultimate meaning of life and your purpose. You have answered the main “why” question in the most satisfying way possible.

2. Realize the undeniable reality that life is a mixture of fortunes and misfortunes and the object is to enjoy the fortunes as much as possible and not let the misfortunes take too much away from the enjoyment of the fortunes. We only think we have a good scorecard and internal thermometer to accurately record and know how much of our life goes on either side; but this is a very faulty process at best because of our mistaken memories, maybe because finding out the truth about this is a grand fortune that trumps all misfortunes.

3. Pause and put things in proper perspective. We live in a world that seems to value and remember the sensational Technicolor negatives over the more silent black and while positives in a three to one ratio. Negative misfortunes are wrapped tightly with negative emotions that make their presence hard to forgive and forget and not anticipate as being permanent and pervasive in our lives. This is especially true when these events are actually occurring in real time and the need to lessen their hold on us is the greatest. The negative spin perpetuated by the media creates an illusory goal of complete optimism to help restore balance, which paradoxically widens the gap. Closing this gap is the best possible love and character-building antidote there is.

4. Take an honest inventory of your darkest times of misfortune and think about the eventual outcome with the more peaceful contentment after the pain of learning, growing and improving into a stronger character. The right perspective we all search for is that we are all learning, growing and improving into a better place because of the character we have to build to get there! There’s really no choice in the matter is there? That is the way life happens in spite of all the bruises, broken bones and bleeding that occur along the way.

5. Keep a running photo scrapbook and personal journal about the joyful moments in your life that have taken your breath away—special events, spectacular scenery, silent solace, great achievements, pure fun, delightful meals, feel-good affection, parenting proudness, important ah-ha moments and the like. When things are not going so well for you, take these positive memories out of the closet to lessen the impact of your current misfortune. The older you get, the more you will be doing this to remember your strong character of courage, hope and having the right perspective in getting to where you are now.

Whether the curtain is just going up or coming down for you, it doesn’t matter. Any of these strategies will help motivate you to build and maintain the required character to follow the light of success of fortune and better deal with the likely misfortunes still in the cards.

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or