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Opinion and Editorial

Practice often to play your part in life well

Alex Pattakos
Filed on February 3, 2020 | Last updated on February 3, 2020 at 08.15 pm

We all know that playing our part in life is not always easy.

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will be presented on February 9, 2020. Held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, the "Oscar Night" ceremony, once again, will be seen on television around the world and, like last year, will be conducted without a host.

Did you know that, like the actors who receive Academy Awards for their outstanding performances, each of us plays the leading role in our own life's movie? Yes, this includes you too! And, just like these Award-winning actors, we're responsible for assuming the role that has been assigned to us and playing it out to the best of our ability.

We all know that playing our part in life is not always easy. Even when we think that we've memorised our lines, we often find that they don't come out the way that we had wished. Or, we may say our lines in the 'right' way but our motions don't seem to be in sync with what we are saying. It's as if our mind is telling us one thing and our body is doing something else! Have you ever experienced a situation like this? Have you ever wondered if you were playing your part to the best of your ability? And, importantly, if you didn't think you were doing a good job 'acting' out your role, did you ask yourself why, and how you could improve?

Like actors intent on winning an Oscar for their performance in a film, you must be willing to work hard - 'practice, practice, practice' - at improving your knowledge, skills, and attitude about what you do all, not just some, of the time. And in real life, the challenge is even greater since our 'script' isn't as straightforward and changes over time! The story that is your life can change from one type to another - transitioning between drama, comedy, tragedy, or some combination of these story types - without warning or conscious intent. Consequently, we've got to learn how to roll with the punches and be prepared to improvise when things don't seem to be going according to script.

Some people think life has a way of letting us down. Or so they think. Believe it or not, by viewing life as something that just happens to us, and ourselves as relatively powerless in life as a result, we effectively lock ourselves into our own mental prisons. In turn, we lose sight of our own natural potential, as well as that of others. Viewing life as inherently meaningful and literally unlimited in potential, on the other hand, requires new ways of thinking and responsible action to deal in a positive way with the changes in our life's story arc.

Importantly, the potential for meaning exists in every moment of life; but this meaning potential can only be searched for and detected by each of us individually. According to the world-renowned psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor, Dr Viktor E. Frankl, "Life remains potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable." Dr. Frankl not only survived but was able to find meaning under the most horrific circumstances imaginable. During World War II, he spent over three years in Nazi death camps where his parents, his brother, and his wife perished.

Whether we choose such a path of liberation, however, is a decision that only we, as the "lead actors" in our own life's movie, can make and for which only we can be held responsible. When we search out and discover the deeper meaning of our life's experiences, as did Dr Frankl, we discover that life doesn't just happen to us. We happen to life; and we make it meaningful.

I'd like you to practise asking yourself the following four questions about different, especially challenging or stressful, situations or experiences in your life:

1-How did you respond to the situation or life experience?

2-How did you feel about the situation or life experience?

3-What did you learn from the situation or life experience? (New knowledge, skills, and/or attitude that you now possess)

4-How did you/will you grow from the situation or life experience?

You have to continuously learn and grow from all of the experiences, even those that they would rather forget.

By remaining aware of the need to detect and learn from the meaning of life's moments, you make sure that you do not become a prisoner of your own thoughts. At the same time, your "performance in a leading role" will also improve dramatically (no pun intended). And the Oscar goes to...YOU!

-Psychology Today

Alex Pattakos is an author

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