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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Do You Know What You Want for Yourself?

When I was a child, I never wondered what was the right or the

wrong thing to do. I just knew. Something within me told me. It

seems that most people can relate to a similar experience at some

time in their lives. As children, we know deep within ourselves

how we should act in certain situations. We don’t always act that

way, but we know. The most common name we give that gentle

voice within us is conscience.

There is a lot to be said for a clear conscience. The idea doesn’t

get much airtime these days, but there is a tremendous tranquillity

born from knowing that you are doing the right thing for the right


As we grow older, we seem to lose this gift of knowing which is

the better way to act. Somewhere along the way, most of us seem to

be conditioned to distrust ourselves. We stop listening to the voice

of conscience and begin to seek out the opinions of the many other

voices that distract us from the voice within. As a result, one of the

real dilemmas that people face every day is the inability to look at a

given situation and decide which is the best way to act.

When most people are faced with a financial decision, they

consult a parent, friend, colleague, book, financial adviser, or combination

of these. Most people, when faced with a personal or

moral decision, consult their spouse, pastor, priest, minister,

friends, or the scriptures. In all of these, however, there is no constant.

Different opinions and different interpretations leave many

people more bewildered than they were to begin with. But each of

us, finally, after gathering as much information as is available, or as

much as we choose to accept, is forced to make a decision and to

act—understanding that even to make no decision is to act.

Between the gathering of information, the seeking of opinions,

and the actions of our lives, another process takes place: decision

making. Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum; they are made in

space and time. To make an effective decision, we must have some

goal toward which we are moving. If not, we find ourselves deciding

because “Uncle Frank said it was the right thing to do” or

“Reverend George told me it was best this way.”

In some cases these advisers may very well be right, but in others

they may not be. The point is, rather, that we should not make

ourselves beholden to experts in our lives. We must seek to understand

not only what is right, wrong, good, or best—but also why

certain things are right or wrong. This does not mean that we do

not seek the input from advisers and experts. It does mean that we

assess what they say against the backdrop of our essential purpose

and in light of the goal we are moving toward. It is also critical that

we understand the effects and consequences of our actions.

These abilities are not easy to acquire. How is the ordinary person

to know? Upon what criteria are we to base the decisions and

actions of our lives?

Before we make a decision, particularly a large one (or before

we give advice to assist someone else in making a decision), it is

wise for each of us to take time in the classroom of silence to listen

to the gentle voice within. Silence and solitude give a perspective

to the situations of our lives that could not be gained by a thousand

hours of conversation or a thousand pages of books.

Yet this thoughtful reflection also cannot take place in a vacuum.

It must take place in relation to the space and time of our

everyday lives by considering the matter at hand in light of our

hopes and dreams, and with our essential purpose ever before us.

If you do not know where you are going, you will never get


Our ability to discern any question or opportunity in our lives

depends primarily on our understanding of where we are and

where we wish to go and, more important, our understanding of

who we are and who we wish to become.

Most people don’t know what they want. Most people don’t

know who they are. Most people don’t know who they are capable

of becoming.

These are three very large statements. Are they true? You decide.

In any depth, beyond a little more money, a new car, and the

vacation of a lifetime, do you know a lot of people who really know

what they want from life? Do you know a lot of people who

know what they want for themselves? How many people do you

know who are intimately aware of and in tune with their legitimate

needs? Do you know many people who are connected to the

deeper desires of their hearts? Would you say most people know

what their genius is and are using it as a guiding principle in their

lives? Finally, do you think many people have a clear vision of what

the-best-version-of-themselves looks like?

These are tremendous disabilities. When we don’t know who

we are, what we want, or where we are going and why, we are very

susceptible to becoming pawns in other people’s schemes.

Knowing who we are (strengths, weaknesses, needs, talents,

and desires) and what we are here for (to become the-best-version-of-

ourselves) is the knowledge that liberates us from the modern

enslavement of a life of meaninglessness and gives our lives back to

us once more.

Millions of people have lost their lives, and they don’t even

know it.

Matthew Kelly

From The Rhythm of Life

Click Here to get your copy.

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