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At its basis, is life after all just a lottery ticket?

Well, that’s a good question. Seems like a cynical question, but it’s certainly a question I had at one time in my life. When my parents had died and I made some bad moves and ended up living under a pier. I remember asking a version of that question, “Is life, just a lottery ticket? Is this just luck of the draw? Is this what you get or is there something you can do?” Is there something that you can grab hold off to move your life in a direction of your choice. Now I’ll tell you how I came to understand that no, life is not just a lottery ticket. All right? There’s the answer to your question, but let me tell you how I came to understand, how I believe the answer is no.

And that is, I read biographies. And by the time I had read literally a couple of hundred biographies. Now obviously some of them were not long, thick, multi hundred page tomes of somebody’s life. Some of them were short biographies, but I read a couple of hundred of them. There were several things that I noticed about the lives of great people. In these successful people, these people who had accomplished so much and seemed content. One of the things that I noticed is that over and over again, they had incredible problems. It was just crazy. The situations in which they found themselves. The other thing that I found was that these people were rarely being bailed out by people around them. They were having to figure it out. Then the third thing that really hit me was that despite the fact that I found myself sleeping under a pier many nights, I was living on the beach.

The challenges that these great people had faced were much bigger challenges than I was facing. It was very apparent to me that the problems they had successfully navigated to become who they ultimately became, Those problems are so much worse than the problems that I was finding myself with. I began to understand that there are principles that a person can apply. That there are choices that a person can make. Basic responsibility tells you that you can’t always control the things that happen to you. You can control your response to those things. If you can understand that you can make choices, it’ll lead you to a place you don’t like. Doesn’t it make logical sense that you could also make choices that would take you to a place you do like?

The game is to make better choices. How do you make better choices? You make better choices by understanding principles and their application in your life. You make better choices by understanding, by gaining wisdom, by reading. There’s an old saying that says “Experience is the best teacher.” That’s not true. Other people’s experience is the best teacher. Why do you want to go through something if you don’t have to? Why wouldn’t you? If you’re going through a minefield, why wouldn’t you walk in the footsteps of those who have crossed it safely before you? This idea that life is just a lottery ticket. It’s just incorrect. There are choices that you can make or things you can learn to make your choices better. And as life goes on, it should get better and better. And with you, I’m sure it will.

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