Choose Your Roles Carefully

One of the latest trends in social science is to study what makes people happy – instead of screwed up. As a sociologist I am most interested in how the society around us influences our chances for and attainment of happiness. Here I discuss how to balance some of the multiple roles – as well as how to pick the rights ones at different points of life. Hope you enjoy and leave comments!!

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.” William Shakespeare — From As You Like It (II, vii, 139-143)

As a sociologist we often view social life as a series of “plays” or “scenes” where we each play a variety of roles (parent, student, friend, worker,…). Most of the time people simply play out the roles that were assigned them by others – often without an audition to determine if we have the right skills and personality for that role. That is the reason so many people are alienated from their roles and generally disenchanted with their lives. Too many people are stuck in dramas or tragedies — when life is supposed to be a comedy of joy!!

As a tenured professor, I have been blessed to be the producer and director of my own starring roles in my life’s various comedies and dramas. I choose my “parts” carefully — only taking on those that really stir my passions and build on my strengths.

That is why I am now playing the role that has always been my dream – professional musician and counter-cultural opinion leader!! For many years I was playing roles that conflicted with each other. That led to what we call “role strain” that is a primary cause of stress. We often get overloaded with demands and drama from the people in our various “movies.” We often should step back and evaluate how well we are doing. If a role no longer fits you then you have two choices – change yourself to fit the role OR quit that drama and find a better role.

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As We Ebb And Flow Through Life: Changing Roles
February 28, 2007 — The Daily Om

As we bob and weave with the ebb and flow of life our roles change, but our true self remains constant. As spiritual beings having a human experience, we go through many aspects of humanity in one lifetime. Living in the material world of opposites, labels, and classifications, we often identify ourselves by the roles we play, forgetting that these aspects shift and change throughout our lives. But when we anchor ourselves in the truth of our being, that core of spirit within us, we can choose to embrace the new roles as they come, knowing that they give us fresh perspective on life and a greater understanding of the lives of others.

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As children, we anticipated role changes eagerly in our rush to grow up. Though fairy tales led us to believe that “happily ever after” was a final destination, the truth is that life is a series of destinations, mere stops on a long journey filled with differing terrain. We may need to move through a feeling of resistance as we shift from spouse to parent, leader to subordinate, caregiver to receiver, or even local to newcomer. It can be helpful to bid a fond farewell to the role that we are leaving before we welcome the new. This is the purpose of ceremonies in cultures throughout the world and across time. We can choose from any in existence or create our own to help us celebrate our life shifts and embrace our new adventures.

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Like actors on the stage of the world, our different roles are just costumes that we inhabit and then shed. Each role we play gives us another perspective through which to understand ourselves and the nature of the universe. When we take a moment to see that each change can be an adventure, a celebration, and a chance to play a new part, we may even be able to recapture the joyful anticipation of our youth as we transition from one role to the next.

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Bottom Line from Dr. Tom
Remember no critics’ opinions matter
Play only those roles you want to play!!

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Categories: Happiness | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Choose Your Roles Carefully

  1. chuck220

    Right on Professor, very insightful.

  2. Molly

    Too many people don’t realize that we always have a choice and, therefore, end up stuck where they are instead of looking for a different – and hopefully better – role to play.
    Victim/rescuer, top dog/bottom dog, etc. All result in negative energy for at least one.
    As long as you keep running over the same potholes that you know are there – having to re-inflate your high positive emotions, having to realign your life to compensate – then you need to find a different route.

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