Life can only be what you make of it. We’re born into a certain family, of a certain race, with certain grade of hair, with certain features and during a certain time. We can’t change those cards that we’re dealt. Sure, we can complain about what others have that we don’t, but what really is the point? There will always be someone who looks like they have a “better” situation than you. They could, be a different complexion, live in a different neighborhood, have more clothes, appear to have a successful marriage, have a “great” job, be single and fabulous, get better grades or go on more vacations.

Oprah Winfrey was born to poor teenage parents in poverty stricken Mississippi where she was primarily raised by her Grandmother. When she was older she moved to be with her mother, but was molested by relatives and eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to quiet the demons. Oprah very easily could have looked around at the life others lived and continued on in her pity party. She did no such thing. She pulled herself up by the bootstraps, moved to live with her father and began her work in journalism as a reporter. As we know, she has had an amazing run in television and film, and continues to blaze the trail.

Perception is usually not reality. It’s because there is always more to the story. We have this habit of judging facts instead of simply acknowledging that it is. Someone who goes to church is not necessarily a “good” person. Someone who has a high level title, is not necessarily wealthy. Someone who works really hard isn’t necessarily doing well at work. You get my drift.

Remember Bernie Madoff? If you need a refresher, he is the operator the a Ponzi scheme said to be the largest in U.S. history. Given his stature, contributions and appearances, it was assumed that his investment banking business was solid. The conclusions people drew, based upon their perceptions, caused them to abandoned their usual process of due diligence.

Love really is everywhere. Yes, it is. Often times, we only give “Love” credit, when it’s romantic, parents, friend, siblings and children. However, love is in so many places. Love shows up when a stranger shares their umbrella with you in the rain. Love shows up when a co-worker goes for a coffee run everyday and leaves a cup on your desk, as well without asking. Love can be the friend who lets you wear his or her favorite hat because it looks better with your clothes. Love does not have to be a grand gesture for a lifetime. It can also be small acts of kindness throughout the day.

I once heard a story about Donald Trump (which he confirmed on the Apprentice) having a flat tire while he was being driven in his limo. A man driving down the highway noticed the limousine with the flat tire on the side of the road and stopped (without knowing who was in it). He spoke to the limo driver and offered to help. He changed the flat tire and would not take a tip, however the limo driver did ask him for his information and said that his passenger would like to thank him. A week later, someone showed up at the man’s house, who changed the flat tire, with the deed to his home and the house was now paid in full. One act of kindness in love.

Your truth will set you free. Yes, your truth will set you free, which is different than “the truth”. The truth is subjective. People, often times, get to a truth about someone based upon incomplete information. It goes back to the comments on perception earlier in this article. It is less important what others believe your truth to be and much more important that you are fully aware of your truth. If a person appears to be happy and well adjusted, but they are dying inside, they may try to convince themselves that they are what other people believe them to be. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. An acknowledgment of your truth, in the moment, allows you to address it, if necessary. This is an alternative to continuing the exhausting work of keeping up the front for yourself.

Samuel L. Jackson, who has had an amazing career full of highs and lows. He developed addictions to alcohol and cocaine early in his career which cost him work. As his career progressed, his drug addiction worsened to the point of overdosing on heroin. Jackson’s family eventually intervened getting him into rehab and giving him much needed support. He also took responsibility for his truth and decided to confront his demons. I can imagine that he still struggles with them, but more importantly he is no longer denying them.

When you stop to think about it, we’re all spirits on this earth having a human experience. At every turn, we have a choice to make about our lives. What we believe about ourselves, who we are and what we deserve will determine the kind of life we live.

When you stop to think about it, we all have opportunities to be great.

Monica Cost is the Founder of Evidently Assured, brand strategy firm  and the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensation.” Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.  www.monicacost.com.