For quite a bit of time I have been walking around with this need to learn to enjoy more my life and relax. Don´t get me wrong I have a wonderful life. I am self-employed, I have a beautiful family and a good balance between work and reward. Yet I have somehow lost myself in the process of making all this happen. My natural tendency of being overloaded with tasks and compromises and inclination towards (over)achievement is not helping at all. It is time for prioritizing and simplifying one´s life. It is time for rediscovering the joy!
Starting and running one´s own business can be extremely time consuming and demanding. Adding into that formula couple of babies/toddlers and the volume goes up. And then of course we tend to have many other additional variables (e.g. ongoing studies, demanding pets, construction works, relatives in faraway countries and so on) impacting our lives and demanding our attention. And then comes the danger of the digital era – all these gadgets with all this unlimited access to all kinds of information ALL THE TIME. If one does not manage and balance carefully all these aforementioned aspects of their lives, stress and lack (of opportunities and skills to experience reasonable amounts) of joy are easy to rise.
I am a recovering “outofbalanceholic”. I have been on this journey the last couple of years and only now am I starting to find more balance, more calm and more joy. And (re-)learning the concept of mindfulness has helped a lot.. I say re-learning since we start out in this world as babies by being mindful, by being present.. Couple of years ago, while wandering around an airport bookstore, I happened to stumble onto something interesting, a book called “The Happiness Project”. A book by Gretchen Rubin (www.gretchenrubin.com) that undoubtedly changed my life in some ways forever. The author dedicated a full year to analyzing and improving her own happiness, and all this mainly by carrying out little changes and establishing new daily habits. Being very inconsistent and quite chaotic, I have never before thought consciously about habits, their impact and habit creation in my life. So as one can imagine, in such circumstances, this book can be quite a game-changer! Me and her are in some ways very different, but there is something about her writing (and herself) that totally fascinates me. Maybe I wish I was just a little bit more like her (more organized and focused in my life)..
This book, together with some other sources of inspiration, life circumstances and internal desires inspired me to start out in a way on my own personal journey of happiness and mindfulness. Since I have always had a vivid imagination and unstoppable mind, I somehow knew that these two are interrelated for me (probably for everybody). Thus the will to embark on “my very own mindfulness journey”. While translating these concepts into my own “language”, I have also taken a lot of time to think about the basics. The core values and the guiding principles of one´s life. In this case MY OWN life. Although they tend to be similar for human beings in general, some variations do exist..
So the basics? Before action, one should have their underlying principles figured out, right? What is the purpose of human life? What do I want from my own life? And so on. I have always possessed a curious mind – awake, alert, analysing and observing the life around. I have not yet got to the conclusion if this is a curse or a blessing. Sometimes it feels “the less “of knowing/wanting to know “is more”. I know many people who live calmly and happily their life without the need to think too deep or the need to ask too many questions (or to over-complicate their life). However, I also happen to know some people more like me. People who unintentionally or intentionally opt for questioning things, thus experiencing more ups & downs on the way, probably ending up with more unstable but yet somehow more colorful experience of human-hood. Whatever is the truth, I do believe that the two types of people are crucial to one another. There has to be stability and there has to be (disruptive) curiosity, to enable the existence of both ends of the continuum, resulting in some sort of balance. And most of us lie somewhere there, right in between, we are more stable in some truths and more curious in others..
In the context of the “basics” I have lately come across with couple of ideas that keep lingering in my mind. Possibly I am trying to see how to apply them or benefit from them. I happened to listen to an interview with Shawn Achor, one of the famous American happiness researchers, who often raises in his talks a question regarding the connection between happiness and success. According to him we are taught since early age that “If you will be successful, then you will be happy”. He raises a question why aren´t we teaching our children exactly the opposite – “If you will be happy, success will follow!” He is so right. At least twenty five years ago in post-soviet country we did not speak that much about happiness. We had to study hard in order to get a good job. Everything was new at the time. Even freedom was new. And the truth was that happiness would not pay the bills. Times were different. Today the world is getting again more unstable and insecure, but people do speak a lot more about happiness. I know quite a few success stories of people turning their life around, stepping out from an office/corporate job and starting to follow their hobbies and passions. Seeing these real-life examples, one believes just a little bit more that it is possible to turn around the old principle of “success brings happiness” and believe in “happiness brings success”. All I know is that when raising my children, this is one of the principles I want to follow. For sure it will not be easy, and probably not even knowing from one´s own experience that success does not automatically equal happiness is not always enough. However, I hope that being open to this ideas is already halfway towards victory.
Shawn Achor also introduced me to the thought of the “ladder”, which must have been inspired by the famous quote from Stephen Covey “Most people spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to realize when they get to the top, the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall.” Shawn Achor encourages people to look at their lives and their professional careers in order to be sure that all the efforts have been done in the right direction. The sooner, the better. Although I am not yet there, I found it funny how he referred to mid-life crisis as a natural consequence for somebody not taking their time to reflect (in timely manner) about their life..
So let´s go for it, let´s try to reflect more about ourselves on the way! And enjoy more fully the ride.. breathing in every second of it.. with a big smile.. just like our childhood carousel rides..