Whoa – with a title like “Your Destiny”, you’re bound to give pause. You’ve probably thought about your destiny at a few points in your life. Is destiny pre-determined? Is it a well-defined path that you just plod along? Or do you have something to do with the unfolding of events in your life? And how do the events unfolding in the United States, with a new and controversial president, affect your destiny?
Destiny is, in my opinion, a misunderstood word. We often associate it with the definition of “a pre-determined course of events.” Sometimes, destiny feels like that, as if things had to turn out a certain way, and there was nothing we could do about it.
But destiny is far more than just a fixed roller-coaster ride that you’re committed to and at the whim of as soon as you buckle up. No, destiny is a co-creation that has everything to do with your choices and your attention.
Fatalism vs. Free Will
When we think of something as “destined” to happen, some believe that there was no other choice – it was meant to be. As if our lives were some book that was already written, and when you turn to page “January of 2017” it is declared there what happens, period. This is a fatalistic point of view.
Others believe more in free will – that we determine the course of our lives and make it happen. This is also referred to as manifestation. We create exactly what it is that we want. You may remember the phrase from your high school US history class, “manifest destiny”. This was the idea that there was a divine sanction to spread across the lands of North America and settle on them. In reality, this was using a belief to manifest what people in the newly formed nation wanted: to expand their territory and acquire personal property. They created this destiny through free will by heading west, purchasing territory as well as forcibly acquiring land.
It’s Not That Simple – Yet, It Is
Destiny, in my view, isn’t so cut and dry. It’s not completely pre-determined, set in stone before we were born. Nor can we simply create whatever we want whenever we want it. If we could, we’d all be magically living our ideal lives like an avatar in an online game.
I like this definition of destiny: “the power or agency that determines the course of events”. If you’re more fatalistic, you can view that power as outside yourself. But on the spiritual path, we discover that power is within us. And when we harness that power, we can see that charting our course, to a certain degree, is relatively simple – but not necessarily easy!
You Have the Choice
I recognize that there are a lot of things that influence my life – the weather, my daughter’s moods, and currently the transition of a new president coming into office. These varied external circumstances are not in my immediate control and can definitely affect my life. But they don’t determine it. It’s up to me to decide how to respond to my daughter’s anger, although it’s certainly challenging not to react. When I’m able to respond with patience and calm, rather than blowing up, the result is usually very different. I may not be able to control her moods, but I can determine myself to shift the energy by shifting my own.
You and I have the power to choose, always, how we respond to what happens in life. A recent sermon given by one of my inspirations, Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, summed up how I want to approach this shift in our nation right now. He asserted to be “aware of situations, but you don’t allow them to determine your destiny.”
There are situations in your life, and in mine, that we can’t avoid and we need to be aware of. But they do not have to determine how your day or your year unfolds. Most importantly, they don’t have to determine how you feel inside, what you believe, and what you create with what you have. You decide that.
Where You Put Your Attention
We can choose to obsess over situations, constantly watch TV and follow the media, and get all in a hissy fit about whatever happens. We can be in fear, or anger, or feel righteous. We can be excited and anticipate change. We can take action, or sit in meditation, or a little of both. What we choose right now will have an impact on our world and our experience.
I’ll repeat myself – your destiny is not determined solely by these events unfolding around you. You can give problems a lot of attention and suffer a lot by ruminating over them. Alternatively, you can focus on solutions and making a difference, on creating something beautiful in your life, or helping out others less fortunate. Where do you want to put your attention? That is the simplest, most important aspect of determining your destiny.
What You Believe, What You Think – Therefore What You Experience
No matter how things unfold in the external world, this time ahead of you can be powerful, transformative, and opening you to new possibilities in your life.
What do you believe is possible? Perhaps this is a time to step out of your previous limitations and see what you are capable of. Perhaps it is a time to step out of complacency and move into action, no matter how small. To realize your potential by stepping forward with visions that have called you for a long time. It starts from determining what you believe, what you value, and standing by that. If you believe it is possible and your thoughts, words, and action align with that belief, then you’ll begin to manifest that destiny.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny
As we embark upon this new phase in American history with the incoming president, let this guide you and your destiny. Clarify what you really believe, aligned with a Higher Power. Practice faith in that belief. Support your beliefs with self-awareness in choosing your thoughts, words, and actions mindfully. Develop positive habits that support what you believe, value, and intend in your life. Don’t give up when the weather turns bad – see it as everything else, temporal and changing, and keep your rudder steered in your intended direction. You determine your experience of what is, and can see this unfold into a destiny – that you co-created – beautiful to behold.