‘What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?’

“What are you going to do with your life?” I asked in my commencement speech to the DeVry University graduates in the packed Shrine Auditorium, LA, CA, a couple of weeks ago. They have just completed one of the hardest, if not the most difficult thing they will ever do – attending University, working, and in many cases supporting a family, all at the same time. Now they are eager to move forward with their shiny new diplomas to better their lives. And what about you? You too can graduate from whatever you’ve learned in the last year and to take your hard earned lessons and tools to better yourself in the new year.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. — Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Last year you did the best you could at the time, and you won some and lost some. With your new hindsight, knowledge and skills, you can make this new year better than last. Do you know what was the most valuable thing you gained from last year? It’s the ability to think more strategically. No matter whether you felt like you had a successful year or not, you can take the lessons and skills you learned from your experiences. What worked? What didn’t? Did you act too impulsively? Or did you deliberate too long and lost opportunities? How can you do better next time? What are the insights you’ve gained from them?

I told the graduates that they were entering a world fraught with many challenges and dangers; the problems they encounter are often not of their making. It is a lesson in life to accept that life sometimes just doesn’t seem fair. However the way we deal with our current situation is up to us. We can moan and berate the world for being stacked against us, or we can figure out how to navigate the life maze and forge a path that best serves us and humanity at large.

We are in a turbulent and uncertain social, environmental and economic time. We are inheriting the world our ancestors left us. They did what they felt was best with the knowledge and skills they had. We have more information, tools and perspective now and it is up to us to do our best to remedy the challenges that the world is facing. Today’s interrelated world demands that we work for the common good because our personal wellbeing is intrinsically tied to the rest of the world.

As you look over the untraveled road in front of you, remember how you regard the situation, and not the actual circumstances, is what determines how you feel and how you deal with life. Trust that you will prevail. You have made it this far through many other complicated and trying times. Use what you’ve gained from your life and from the wisdom and support of others to advance now. Listen to your inner guide and Spirit; they will keep you in good stead through every opportunity and challenge. Each day is an adventure. Know that you have the inner resources to empower you to keep moving ahead with equanimity and comfort that indeed you will make it through the obstacles. You are growing, learning and enjoying the excitement and rewards of this life journey.

Happy, healthy and fulfilling life to you and your loved ones. I am holding you in my heart with blessings of all good. Here’s to a truly happy new year! For my full DeVry University commencement speech, please go to this webpage.

This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. — George Bernard Shaw

Originally published at Huffington Post