“Life is too short to be in a hurry.” If we are always on the go, we are reacting to the exigencies of day-to-day life rather than allowing ourselves the space to create a happy life.” If we simply react to life, how can we possibly feel satisfied? How can we ever feel happy and connected to the present moment? For me, reading is a wonderful way to focus on the present moment. I have so many things to juggle currently my teaching job at an English language college here in Australia , building my online coaching business and supporting the coaches that I mentor to start their own businesses, running my challenge groups and connecting with people to help introduce them to the programs that have changed my life, teaching classes part time in Korea via Skype, not to mention trying to save time for my blog, my own fitness, my personal life, keeping up with cooking healthy meals and squeezing in fun time, too. As I have mentioned numerous times before, no matter what stage of life I am in, I’ve always been someone who fills up their life with TONS of responsibilities, activities, commitments, and people. “We must simplify our lives; we must slow down. The good news is that simplifying our lives, doing less rather than more, does not have to come at the expense of success.”
Keeping things simple in the 21st century seems like an impossible feat. Since I run an online business which is based out of America and there is a 15 hour time difference I often feel like I have to be constantly connected to properly stay in contact with my coaches and my clients. For someone who is an extremely outgoing, social person and someone who is building an online health and fitness coaching business; it seems crazy to think that I hate being so connected, but I do. I have many aspects of my personality and passions that lend me toward the hippy free spirit life. Being free is my absolute favorite feeling. But, the old saying “with freedom comes responsibility” proves itself to be true time and time again. You can’t be free without taking the time and effort to allow yourself that luxury. Luckily, I have learned to satisfy my desire for freedom through more immediate avenues; like traveling the world, moving abroad, hiking near the ocean and doing yoga. “Being enslaved by the exigencies of life and by our constitution does not preclude the possibility that we can feel free. We experience freedom when we choose a path that provides us both meaning and pleasure.” Although life itself is full with responsibilities (especially this whole adult gig) when we are choosing what life we make our own it is much easier to feel free and satisfied.
Since we live in a world that is constantly connected, one of the most pure and surefire way for me to disconnect is to read. Reading requires all of my attention and focus and I really feel like I can get lost in good book. The most recent book I read was “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar and it was one of those books you read and want to shout from the mountain tops so that everyone can read it and be enlightened. Ben-Shahar tackles the monumental question, “Can you learn to be happy?” For someone who has been actively pursuing happiness for as long as I can remember, his message and research really hit home for me. In this piece I have included some of my favorite quotes because I simply could not have said it better myself. I had so many “Ah-ha” moments while reading this book and I felt reassured that my desire for happiness, meaning, and purpose are something to be celebrated not chastised. “Time is a zero-sum game, a limited resource. Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.”
We have to do what we want to do. We have to first figure out what we want to do. We have to dream big and chase our dreams and fight the good fight. MAN, this is EXHAUSTING. Why is it that we can easily pursue things that are deemed normal, acceptable, or prestigious by society and we can easily dismiss the single most important factor that constitutes a successful life, the ultimate currency- happiness. “Being an idealist is being a realist in the deepest sense- it is being true to our real nature. We are so constituted that we actually need our lives to have meaning. Without a higher purpose, a calling, an ideal, we cannot attain our full potential for happiness. While I am not advocating dreaming over doing ( both are important), there is significant truth that many realists- rat racers mostly- ignore: to be idealistic is to be realistic.” As an idealist, I LOVE THIS. I want to scream it from the mountain tops. Never let someone else’s view of what you SHOULD do with your life steer you away from what you want to do with your life. Even if that means you are saying you don’t know what you want to do. Why is everyone so scared to admit they don’t know what will satisfy them in their career? Why can’t people just say they haven’t found it yet, but they are still actively searching? I respect someone who is constantly trying to better themselves, taking risks, making mistakes, pushing themselves to live a life that fills them with passion much more than someone who pretends to be satisfied by mediocrity.
“It takes conscious and concerted effort to find our calling, because we are usually encouraged to pursue what we do well rather than what we want to do.” This really got me thinking. Is our “calling” confused to simply mean something we do very well? Should our calling be what we want to do? Is a calling a specific career or simply an action or ideal; “to teach”, “to inspire”, “to write”. Those feel like my callings, but in what capacity I will exercise them and make a living, a career, and a life is an ongoing question and a work in progress. But I definitely have concrete goals that keep pushing me to the next level and continue to inspire me day in and day out. “If we have a destination in mind, if we more or less know where we are going, we are free to focus our full attention on making the most of where we are.” I continue to love learning and embracing change. I change my life on purpose because it is best way to find the core of who we are. “The most successful people are lifelong learners; they constantly ask questions and never cease to explore the wonder-filled world around them.” The world is absolutely incredible. People are fascinating and delicate and battle through so many storms to rise to the top. It is a shame to be so closed off to the world around us that we don’t notice how magical it really is. “The potential for happiness may be all around us, but if it goes unnoticed- if our focus is elsewhere and we fail to perceive it- we risk losing it. To turn a possibility into a reality, we first need to realize that the possibility exists. Happiness is not merely contingent on what we do or where we are but on what we choose to perceive.” So many of us spend half our lives in autopilot we just fail to realize how good it really can be. How good it should be. How good we deserve it to be.
This is one of the greatest lessons I have learned from living outside of the United States(in both Thailand and Australia) and backpacking through several countries in Southeast Asia; living a fulfilling life is not determined by how many digits are in your salary, how much money is in your savings account, how many fancy vacations you go on, what degree you have or what neighborhood you live in, you don’t need to forgo your social life and your family time and work seven days a week and take two weeks off a year to be deemed as “hardworking” or “motivated”. Americans thrive on the mentality, “No pain, no gain” and while I completely agree that anything in life worth having takes hard work, I don’t think that the majority of your life should be lived in a holier than thou, workaholic, time poverty stricken alternate universe. Life is for LIVING people. “While some pain is necessary for growth-be it of a muscle or of character-the notion that we cannot grow and prosper while enjoying our lives is blatantly false. Research on flow, for example, illustrates that peak experience (enjoying ourselves) and peak performance(doing our best) go hand in hand.” What this book has reminded me is that we can’t say that we are seeking certain things from our life and then have our actions completely contradict those beliefs. People who find happiness are those who are living according to their philosophy and definition of happiness, who are constantly seeking to better themselves and to help others in some shape or form. “A happiness revolution will come about when people recognize, in theory and in practice, that happiness is the ultimate currency. While many people would agree, in theory, that this is true, a closer look at the way they lead their lives reveals that in effect they are driven primarily by factors other than happiness. Happiness perception can help us, as a society, emerge from the “great depression” in which we currently find ourselves.” With everything that is happening in today’s world, I truly believe that taking two steps back before we take any steps forward will do our society a world of good.
But ultimately, we can’t change the world overnight. But we can, in fact, change ourselves. Ask yourself; what gives me meaning? what gives me pleasure? What are my strengths? Am I doing things that make me happy? Is happiness the ultimate currency I am using to measure my life? If not, what is? What diverts me from seeking and attaining happiness? “As one’s focus turns from the trivial diversions of life, a fuller appreciation of the elemental factors in existence may emerge: the changing seasons, the falling leaves, the last spring, and especially, the of others. Over and over we hear our patients say, “Why did we have to wait until now, til we are riddles with cancer, to learn how to value and appreciate life?” When it comes down to it, life gets really complicated, but I think we can all agree, very ordinary, simple things are what manifest the greatest joy. “To realize, to make real, life’s potential for the ultimate currency, we must first accept that “this is it”- that all there is to life is the day-to-day, the ordinary, the details of the mosaic. We are living a happy life when we derive pleasure and meaning while spending time with our loved ones, or learning something new, or engaging in a project at work. The more our days are filled with these experiences, the happier we become. This is all there is to it” Focus on the little things, do more of what makes you happy, unapologetically. Live right now, because this is it.