Life seems so hard these days and often like it’s spiraled out of our control. It shouldn’t be this hard, I’d love more time to do the things I enjoy, there’s so much to worry about and so much other stuff that needs doing.
It’s almost as though we’re stuck on a treadmill that someone else controls and we can’t seem to get off. Does any of this sound familiar? Many of us leave our homes and families every day to go out and earn a living but how many of us actually make a life as well?
I spent the last 3 years of my life rebuilding what I thought I knew about how life worked to find the way to creating a life I love. Not with a lotto win or a soul mate but in my ordinary day to day, working 9-5, living alone, paying the bills, general ‘real life’ stuff but in a way that felt good, where I had time to do the things that mattered and could live in a way that nourished my soul.
Growing up I wished I’d been offered some advice for life but instead I figured this out through my experiences and sought out those who could help me learn. From my personal journey and the resulting book, here’s my advice for life:
The happiness in our lives depends upon wanting others to be happy. Doing good makes us feel good but quite often we lose sight of this as we get caught up in our own desires, looking after number one and ensuring we finish first.
Learning the art of compassion ensures that we feel better about ourselves, we promote a better environment in which to live and the chances are if we’re a kind person we’ll receive kindness back from others too. Helping others makes us feel good, it gives us a sense of purpose and an inner contentment.
Everyone has tough times at some point in their life, that’s life. It’s how we bounce back from these tough times and weather the storms that impacts our happiness and this is our resilience. As we go through life we face our fears, we get uncomfortable and we often have to take steps out into the unknown.
Sometimes we fail and sometimes it gets hard, bad things happen out of our control. Facing this and learning to deal with unhappiness, failure and things not going right are critical components to living a life we love because there’s no avoiding these things which is why it’s important we learn to deal with them, learn from them, face our fears, grow stronger and never give up.
In our busy lives it’s all too easy not to make time for us. To be too busy to exercise, the eat right or to take time out to relax. Ensuring we look after ourselves is so important for living a good life. It’s very difficult to do this without our health and it’s the foundation on which everything else is built.
It’s also a sign of self respect and self love that we look after ourselves. It keeps us at the top of our game and ensures life flows better if we focus on ensuring we’re ready for the challenge of life.
We are surrounded by opportunities to compare ourselves with others and it’s something we get very good at. We see celebrities in magazines and feel like our own lives fall short. We look at facebook and think everyone has a better life than me, we look at our friends who might be richer, prettier, clever than we are (there will also be people who are less than us in all those areas too – they’ll be comparing themselves to you in the same way!)
Much of what we compare to though is the shiny side of the coin and we don’t see the full story. Add to this our expectation of being perfect and it’s a recipe for unhappiness. Know that where you are is where you’re meant to be and that you are always enough.
Perfect is an impossible dream, we set ourselves up to fail by expecting it. True perfection is always imperfect, this is what makes us human, unique and special, our authenticity, who we are, the good bits and the imperfect bits!
Focus on watering your own grass and it will automatically become greener, it’s not about how others live or what they may or may not be doing. We just have control over our lives and our job is to make those everything we want them to be, regardless of what other people are doing.
The mind is such a powerful tool. Everything begins there, what we think becomes how we feel, then how we act. We spend a lot of time resting and training our bodies, looking after the physical with diet, exercise, beauty products etc but what do we do for our mind?
Regular meditation is key in helping calm our mind but also keeping it clear and therefore sharper, resting it, recharging and giving it a break from the constant stream of thoughts. Like a musician with their instrument, if they don’t keep it clean, tuned and well maintained it’ll make a crap sound, our minds are no different.
It’s all too easy in our consumer driven society to focus on what we can get and wanting more. This leads us into a constant craving which is never fulfilled, like a bottomless bucket, we always want more.
I learned that happiness is not about getting what you want, it’s about loving what you have. There are many things we are lucky to have yet take for granted; fresh air, clean water, warmth, shelter, family and food. It’s not until these things are taken away that we realise how fortunate we are. Gratitude helps us remember our priorities and focus on the things that matter.
We juggle many priorities in life but how many of these things really are priorities and how much of our priorities are in the right order? What is it that makes your heart sing? Maybe it’s spending time with the kids, loved ones, being by the ocean, playing with the dog.
How much time do we devote to doing the things we love. So often there are passions in our life that remain on the back burner until we have time, maybe when we’ve retired and are less busy with life. But these things are our life, they are what we value and what makes us come alive so why don’t we prioritize them? Perhaps it’s baking, drawing, surfing or making music. What ever it is that makes your heart sing, do more of that.
We feel we have to ‘have’ things to be free when in fact it’s the opposite, our struggle to hold onto things brings the very pain we are trying to avoid, we are terrified of letting go for fear we’ll have nothing but this is the true path to living.
When I went from a corporate job and material wealth to having nothing and living very simply it put things into perspective for me. After all, everything material we have can be lost tomorrow and the irony is if you’re asked what you most value it’s likely to be the things money can’t buy, things like love, health and family.
Being human is an amazing privilege, we have so much potential and in the modern world so much opportunity. When life gets out of balance we can feel like we’ve lost control but it always starts and ends with you. Whilst we can’t always control what happens to us we can control how we react to it, we are empowered to create our own happiness.
Yet we often lose perception of our ability to make light of the dark. We are in control of how we think, how we react, what we do about situations, how we chose to feel.
We chose whether the glass is half empty or half full and every day we have the power to make choices in life.