“On Fire: The 7 choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life” by John O’Leary


asteriaiconA friend of mine recommended this book to me. She had seen the author speak in person, and felt I would like it. John O’Leary was 9 years old when he suffered a terrible accident, receiving burns to 100% of his body. He was most certainly going to die, but fought hard to survive. He spent a grueling 5 months in hospital, receiving numerous skin grafts and having his fingers amputated due to infection. In spite of it all, he remained positive, and currently speaks to audiences all over North America about overcoming adversity to find what you were meant to do with your life.

The 7 choices he discusses in his book are:

1.       Denial v. Self-Acceptance

2.       Entitlement v. Owning it

3.       Indifference v. Purpose

4.       Victim v. Victor

5.       Stagnation v. Growth

6.       Success v. Significance

7.       Fear v. Love

The author goes in depth into each choice, and illustrates how he has done so throughout his journey. How you have to own your actions, rather than feel entitled to everything. How you have to find purpose in your life, rather than live idly day by day. How you have to be the victor of your own story, not go through life as a victim of your circumstance. One needs to grow from what they have learned, not sit miserably by and dwell on the past.

I really appreciated this book, and I am not one for self-help books. While the author is clearly spiritual and there is a religious undertone to the book, the message he was trying to convey still came through clearly. I believe much as O’Leary does; do not take your life for granted, be grateful for each day, learn from your mistakes, try to learn something new each day, and try to look at things in a positive light. My fiancé always tells me I am too positive, too nice, too forgiving, too ready to excuse people’s actions. I personally choose to look at the world in a more positive light, and believe in the good in people. If you want to see the good, you have to be the good kind of attitude. I am a believer that this is my life, I make no excuses, I own my mistakes. I am responsible for my own decisions and actions.  I am not a victim of circumstance, but rather a survivor, a fighter.

I have made tough choices, I have cut people out of my life who I felt didn’t have the same values or who made me feel like a lesser person. I have made new friends and surrounded myself with positive people who want to make a difference in the community. I may not believe in the power of prayer, but I do believe in the power of surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, help you through your rough patches, and show you how to stand on your feet. People who empower you, not belittle you. If it wasn’t for these kinds of people in my life, these lessons, this way of thinking, I wouldn’t have survived to adulthood. I wouldn’t live a comfortable, content life. I wouldn’t have been able to travel to Rome with my mom if I played victim and didn’t rise from my own personal challenges. I have a ways to go I think before I am living my life by O’Leary’s rules, but I feel I have made a very good start. I feel I am on the right path to a “radically inspired life”.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

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