So many times I've read that life is what you make of it. Especially in new age articles, but I've also heard it a lot from ordinary (non-religious) people.
I think that's utter crap. Sure, we make a lot of personal choices and I hope everyone makes the vital ones consciously. But you can't get around the fact that more than half of the stuff that determines your happiness is already predetermined at birth (being born in the West or 3rd world countries, skin color, looks, personality genes, childhood outlook etc..). Not to mention that the relatively small changeable part of one's life that remains is still influenced very strongly by surroundings and most importantly other people's action. It happens every day that people's life are ruined by being around the wrong jackass at the wrong time. Or accidents etc..
I think at the end of one's life cycle only very few people can say that they had the freedom to live how they wanted it and that shaping one's own life is generally a fairytale to keep us all going.