I’ve always been fascinated by how little choice we really seem to have. We think we are free, but we are all conditioned to follow a path – and most of us follow it. We go to school, we go to university, we get a job, we get married, we have children, we move into a box, we move into a bigger box, the children leave home, we move into a smaller box and we sit in a chair until we die.
Obviously, I have massively oversimplified that, but in essence that’s what we do as a society. It’s also possibly why so many of us struggle to find happiness in our lives. We are constrained by an invisible ‘’one size fits all’’ formula. To use video gaming terminology, the skin might vary but the basic characteristics are the same.
And it’s getting worse. We are all plugged in to our phones, to social media, to a virtual world in order to escape our own reality – whether we admit to it or not. The lives and images we are bombarded with are fake – enhanced, cartoonish and grotesque. Desperately seeking the endorphin rush of a like or a comment.
The big question is if we are struggling to find happiness, how to we stop the ride and get off?
It’s not as hard as you think it might be…
- Feel the grass under your feet
Literally. Most of us have lost our connection to nature, so reconnect. Leave your phone behind and take a walk in a forest. Notice the sounds, the smell and for as long as you can, be in the moment (I can also highly recommend hugging a tree). Get out to the countryside, take off the Jimmy Choos and plant your feet firmly in the grass. Aaaaand relaaaax.
- Use the WHY question
For at least one day, every time you do ANYTHING ask yourself ‘why?’. Ask ‘why is this important?’ ‘Why am I doing this?’ Write down the ‘whys’ –you might not even be able to answer the why question but if you can’t - write that down too. Understanding the drivers and the reasons for the things you do is essential in the next step.
- Work out what REALLY motivates you, what do you TRULY value – and WHY.
Surprisingly this is one of the hardest things to do. What do you truly value? What is really important to you? Why is it important to you? Seek to understand your own motivations and your own needs. Once you’ve done this you can assess your current situation and understand whether your true needs are currently being met – in your career and in your life.
- STOP seeking likes
Most of us go through life (especially in our younger years) worrying about what how we are perceived by other people. We subconsciously start to change our look, our behaviour and in some cases everything about ourselves for fear of being judged by others. Learn to embrace who you really are and know that those who truly love you, love the real you. I'm not suggesting you rock up to work tomorrow in a unicorn onesie, but you have nothing to fear by being yourself. So be free - and be comfortable in your unique weirdness!!
- Re-write your OWN path
No matter how old you are, or what stage you are in life you can rewrite your path. If you want to take up powerlifting at 44 then do it. If you are head of a company but you’ve always wanted to be a teacher, go and be a teacher. If you are miserable with your partner - either work on it or end it. It really IS that simple. Re-evaluate everything against what you’ve discovered about yourself. If it doesn’t fit with your values, or meet your needs then do something to change it (It goes without saying that you can meet your own needs without disregarding the needs of others - lets be kind in this process).
So there you have it - everything you need to make a start on rewriting your life and starting something more meaningful, but before I go here's one final thought..
I’ve mentioned ‘path’ in this article a couple of times. We all tend to focus on a destination – of where we want to be, and we think the path we take leads to this ultimate goal and that once we reach this elusive end we will be fulfilled and happy. Know this. The only thing at the end of our path for all of us is death. Don’t focus on a destination – focus on the journey.
I’ll leave the last word to Atticus:
‘’I hope to arrive to my death, late, in love, and a little drunk’’.
Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach