A muscular young man at my gym the other day gave me the inspiration for this blog. He was wearing a muscle shirt that allowed him to display the carpet tattoos covering both arms. They were beautiful, intricate and colorful. The combination of good looks and tattoos elicited the attention of most of us gym rats in the place.

Not all were pleased. There was a man close to my age lifting weights on the bench next to me who kept looking at the tattooed young man and then rolling his eyes in disgust at me (I was pretty sure he was reacting to the young man’s tattoos and not to my puny body, but you can never tell). His reaction made me harken to my teenage years when my parents gave me a hard time about my long hair.

I like tattoos 

I used to turn my nose at tattoos, but not anymore. They are appealing and, sometimes, very sexy. The reason I don’t wear one is that I don’t enjoy body pain and watching the needle jabbing required for a tattoo provides me with adequate deterrent.

However, I see tattoos as a necessary part of self-expression, just as growing long hair was in the days of my youth. They are a reminder a conscious, inquisitive, creative and always growing source made us. This Higher entity created us to be unique and, therefore, works with us to establish our authenticity whether it is with our ability to create a work of art or with our desire to wear long hair or a tattoo.

Things to remember when doing what you want

It is our right to do what we want. This is how we know we are alive and that we matter. This also means we must acknowledge and support the same right for others. We might not like what they do, like wearing a tattoo, but it is their right. Knowing this makes it easy for me to accept others just as they are. But doing what one wants comes with accountability. The following is a list of what I mean.

1)You have full responsibility. When doing what you want, the buck stops with you. Whatever you do, you must accept that you alone control and are responsible for your actions. You can’t claim your circumstances or others forced you to do it. You are at the wheel and you have full capacity to exercise your free will.

BTW, as long as you are under the care of others, like a teenager living with his/her parents, you may not have the means to exercise your will just yet.

What you control also limits you. For example, you might decide to borrow money from a bank or a parent, but the entity you asked may not want to lend you the money. Here, the only thing you control is your ask. Your parent or the bank do not owe you compliance.

2) You have the ability to carry out your desire. This statement connects to the message of the previous paragraph. Having the capacity to do what you want is paramount to doing it. Using the tattooed young man’s example, he chose and, although he probably didn’t do the work himself, found the means to carry out his desire. He controlled his destiny from start (wanting to have it) to finish (tattoos in place). You decide, you carry it out and you don’t manipulate others into doing it for you.

 3) You don’t need permission. This was a hard one for me. In the past, I was so wedded to what others thought I would not take action unless I had unequivocal approval from them. Let me tell you, living this way sucks. Others don’t live inside your skin, they don’t know what it is you want, they can only reflect an opinion shaped by their experiences. The only approval you require is the one coming from within you.

 4) You cannot hurt yourself and others. Willfully hurting others is not ethical. You might want to punch someone out, but just because you want it doesn’t give you the right to do it. This example can be shown on a bigger stage. You may want to launch a nuclear missile at another country if they don’t do what you want, but you don’t have the right to do it. It is not unusual to entertain thoughts of getting your desires by force, but they are not ones you want to choose.

Hurting yourself carries similar thinking. It is one thing to feel the temporary pain from getting a tattoo than it is to feel the excruciating pain and permanence of cutting your arm off. Deciding to do something like cutting your arm off is sick, if this is you, you need therapy.

5) Understand and accept the consequences. Self-expression may provoke the disapproval of others. It may not matter to my tattooed friend that an old guy was rolling his eyes at him, but it might matter to him if displaying his tattoos in a job interview costs him the opportunity. Knowing and evaluating consequences is an important part of adult decision making. This is not the same as seeking others’ approval, it is just acknowledging others may not like or accept what you are doing.

One can run down an easy list to see what I mean. If you want to buy a new car, then you must understand what the payments are to ensure you can afford it. I am a classic case of a man with Champaign taste and beer budget. Eventually, I have to accept I cannot afford what I want. If I persist, then I may need to get a second job to make the payments. Another example good example is choosing to be a musician for a living. Doing so may mean you have to travel a lot and accept low paying gigs to get started. None of these things are bad, it is about understanding the consequences of your decision so you can adjust your expectations or define your level of commitment to your desire.

6) You are deciding for the long term. I believe good decisions are long-term commitments. If you want to be a musician, the beginning may be rough—as I mentioned before—but if you stick with it, you may break through. Nothing worth having is ever easy. But don’t worry, if this is something you truly want, you will have the internal resources to do them.

Your life becomes better and more fulfilling when you follow your inner desires. Pursue them with all your heart and your spirit will fill you with passion and joy. If you keep these six things in mind as you decide, you will be fine.

As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash