Hand drawing a conceptual diagram about the importance to find the shortest way to go from point A to point B, or a simple solution to a problem.
Cover Image © Ivelin Radkov

Life is What You Make It: Stop Complicating It

I have always felt like Life (with a big “L”) is as complicated as we choose to make it. I know – I know – we’ve all heard the saying, “Life isn’t always black and white,” but… I really wonder whether or not that’s true on a personal level? And that’s the overarching question I’d like you to consider as you read this post.

A lot of us go through life in a “Semi-Chidi” state of being about most things. No, Chidi isn’t some famous ancient philosopher – although you’re kind of close there — Chidi Anagonye is one of the key characters on the recently completed TV series “The Good Place”.

To give you some sample of how he lives many of his moments on the show…

You get the picture, right? Chidi over-analyzed nearly every aspect of his existence. Many of us do that in our day-to-day about things that we probably just shouldn’t waste the time on.


Life Is Not Complicated

At its core, I don’t think life is inherently complicated, but I do think WE make it complicated. There is a difference between the two.

If you search for “Life is” on Google, you get 9.2 BILLION results back.

In an effort to simplify that, if you then jump to the Images tab in those results, you see phrases like:

  • “Life is like riding a bicycle.”
  • “Life is short.”
  • “Life is like a camera.”
  • “Life is Tough, but so are you.”
  • “Life is the most difficult exam.”
  • “Life is Simple.”
  • “Life is beautiful.”
  • “Life is a gift.”
  • “LIFE = a2 + b2

And that’s in the first few rows of imagery. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably beginning to think somewhere in the back of your mind, “How in the hell can Life be so many things and NOT be considered complicated?!”

Animated image of a woman looking perplexed with visuals of math complications floating over her.  Meant to symbolize complications.  Math Lady meme.

When you get caught up in that feedback loop, keep in mind that Life is indisputably one thing (potentially said two ways). Life, and your definition of it, IS subjectively determined by you and no one else. Said another way: Life is what YOU make it.


What is Your Mantra?

Taking a moment to recognize and check my privilege, because I know everyone doesn’t feel the freedom to say what I just stated — I mean what I said — “Life is what you make it.”

Not from the sense of, “If I believe I can be a billionaire – I’ll be a billionaire.” I just don’t think Life works that way when it comes to material possessions. I am referring to your mental state and how you perceive the world around you. Our feelings and reactions – the “calm of our spirit” and how well adjusted we are to our environment – are the only things we genuinely own in this world after all.

Even if your life is objectively difficult, and many lives are, you can still choose to adopt a mantra or creed that you live by.

Mantras are used throughout various philosophies and meditations in history to help people push beyond any self-imposed mental-barriers they may have. No, it’s not a religion or anything (feel free to have that belief system for yourself as well – I do), a mantra is a statement you repeat to yourself over time to assist with your mental state.

My personal mantra (and you’ll probably see me reference this at many points in this blog) is the Holstee Manifesto.

The Holstee Manifesto. This is your Life. Life is what you make it.

I first came across this visual a few years ago, and now I say it every morning (from memory) as I get dressed, and meditate on it throughout my day. Focusing on the lines of this manifesto each time I get ready to go through a new day puts me in the right mood to take on the world around me in a peaceful state. I sometimes simplify it to its first line, “This is your Life,” and I willingly allow it to influence my thought process through repetition.

Having a giant 5.5 x 4-foot wall cling of the manifesto (that they don’t even sell anymore) in my entryway (yes, that’s the actual entrance to my place) really does help keep this one on my spirit. It is also my screensaver on both my work and personal laptops, AND I used to have it set as my cell phone background.

If you do not have a mantra, I recommend defining one for yourself.


You Get to Choose

Life will present you different choices with every moment you’re awake.

A picture of a sign post showing one direction leading to "simple" and another leading to "complicated".

You owe it to yourself to determine a path that isn’t full of unnecessary complexity. I AM NOT saying that you shouldn’t do hard things. That’s not what I’m advocating.

What I AM saying is that if you are or aren’t going to do something, easy or difficult – fine, but commit. Remove the complexity and just accept that you are doing something you chose. Even if you don’t like it (which can happen) — accept that you don’t like it, and move on. Just do “it” (like Nike).

Hesitation, and rumination, are human tendencies where I feel like we introduce a lot of undue complications into our daily lives. We have a collective trait to worry about the “what ifs” of our choices, or to think about what we may or may not be losing or gaining with our decisions. That (again very natural) habit will make everything harder than it has to be!

It is natural to consider alternatives here and there — but it is a blessing to get to pick a lane you want to occupy and block out other things in the spirit of simplifying your time here on Earth.


Take a little bit of joy in the fact that you get to choose whether or not you will let those possibilities echo in your mind. You don’t HAVE to. Choose whether or not you will sulk at the thought of how unfair or unpleasant something currently is. You don’t HAVE to.

You may not feel like you get to choose some of these things, but I promise – in this sense – you do. YOU own your reaction.

It is also worth considering that whatever you’re dealing with, good or bad, is momentary. So why focus on a moment? Why let this single things weigh you down longer than it has to?

Things will not always be easy or hard. You will struggle in Life. You will have to make decisions that you may or may not like or appreciate. But… It doesn’t have to be complicated.

This brings me back to my original statement: Life is what YOU make it.


Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

 Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Ivelin Radkov (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © Holstee Inc
– Body Image 2 © Gajus (Shutterstock)

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Created by Alex Volkov