Presented as “deep thoughts” for 2010 graduates who are poised to make decisions and take action about their lives, this conversation between CBS Sunday Morning contributor Ben Stein and his shrink is astounding and crystal clear. No matter what date is on your diploma, read it. It could change the direction of your life.
Ben Stein’s segment (CBS Sunday Morning, June 13, 2010) transcribed:
I asked my shrink, a super smart guy, “How would you divide up the people who are happy in life and those who are not?”
He answered like a shot.
“The unhappy ones,” he said, “are people whose parents, family or loved ones talked them into doing something for a career that wasn’t really them.” They are people who wanted to be writers or performers but instead, chose to take the cautious route and they ended up in accounting school, law school or dental school.
Now they are well into their middle age and make a decent living. They just don’t like what they do. What they do, you might say, is not them. It’s not who they are or who they wanted to be.
It’s too late for most of them to try to change. They haven’t built up experience or contacts in the field they want to be in.
So, they just come into my office and complain.
And, what about the happy ones? What did they do?
My shrink answered this, again, like a shot.
They made a decision to live – my shrink’s exact words. They decided to do what their hearts told them to do. To do what was in them to do. They took risks and they took chances and they tried a lot of different things until they got to where they wanted to be.
This very often means working incredibility hard and living on the edge but it gets you to where you can look back on your life and say it wasn’t wasted.
I left the doctor’s office with my brain on fire. His advice is spectacular.
Unless you are born rich or even if you are, you have to earn your keep, that’s for sure. But to decide to live. That makes a lot of difference in this difficult world.
That’s it. Choose to live a life you want to live, not one that’s safe or what someone else wants you to do.
Decide to live.
I disagree that those in middle age and beyond are impossibly stuck. Every stage of life holds chances to change the trajectory of a life. Be alert, cultivate awareness and choose well along the way.