Small Lessons Can Be Learned by Addressing Big Issues

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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The year 2020 will mark stories of history for generations to come. This year continues to call attention to areas of opportunity, shortcomings, and perhaps failures across many areas of life — from global economic concerns to neighborhood-specific best practices. 

Of all we can and will learn from our experiences, at the very least I hope many of us take note of what we dislike or don’t want to be true for ourselves. Sometimes, noticing things that bother us can help us clarify what we want to accomplish and how we might do so.

Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not even referring to overarching social or economic topics. I’m talking about the day-to-day behaviors and habits we each demonstrate. We all take actions regularly that either hinder or advance our efforts toward reaching an objective or making progress toward a goal, either short-term or long-term.

Lately, I’ve been working through a process designed to help clarify what I want to do with my life and how I want to do it. If you are a regular reader here, you may remember a recent column of mine that serves as a significant starting point in this process. 

Although invigorating and insightful, this process also has been challenging at times. It is easy to want to be successful, but what exactly does successful look like for me?

To help narrow things down, I take note of what I might consider a lack of success. I can quickly identify what I don’t want and what bothers me, which actually helps give identity to things I consider successful.

I’m currently reading “Dream Big” by Bob Goff. He encourages readers to work through a series of questions to hone in on our ambitions and begin living them out. In my journaling, I found myself struggling to identify things that make me happy or bring me joy. However, when I began asking myself, “What makes me unhappy?” I was quickly able to list dozens of behaviors, choices, and habits I engage in that often leave me feeling regret.

Identifying things that bother us isn’t merely an effort to choose a political party or a social cause to support. Knowing what leaves us feeling regret actually sheds light on the behaviors and habits we’ve developed in our personal lives that keep us from being the best version of ourselves.

There will always be an overabundance of things beyond our control. However, the things in our control require a concerted effort to move closer to our objectives.

If you aren’t sure what you want, start by identifying what you don’t want and develop habits that help you avoid the things on that list.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


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