Archive for September, 2011

Who are you?

September 26, 2011

Who are you really?

Do you know who you are?

No longer an impressionable teenager, indeed now on the high side of forty, I’m expected to know exactly who I am, what I want and how to be ‘comfortable in my skin’. But I rarely feel that way. Try as I might I’m continually bombarded with instruction on how I should live my life.

The world has a plan; what we should be doing in our twenties, what thirty looks like, where we should be by forty, and a different set of expectations for when we’re over fifty. Each decade nicely packaged like the days of the week – seven incremental steps to the final curtain call; and a celebration at each transition point, that reluctant stepping stone of birthdays ending in a zero.

Life’s like the days of the week. We start on Monday fresh and new, hoping the next few days hurry on by. Wednesday is mid week and we reflect on what we have done and what’s left to do. Thursday is our most productive day and Friday the most enjoyable, where the work is done and we can relax. Saturday is time off for us and our family and Sunday is a day of rest.

And each decade of our life means something different. As we grow we proudly proclaim ten, finally a big kid, double figures. We rush to twenty wanting the world; thirty is the checkpoint for what we’ve achieved and what’s left to do. By forty we feel the loss of youth and reflect on which of life’s boxes we’ve managed to tick. Fifty is to see if we’ve made it, sixty is time to take our foot off the pedal to reflect and seventy is Sunday, the day of rest. If we’re really lucky it’s a long weekend so we get to enjoy another day off to sleep in; eighty.

When the world dictates how we should live our life, it becomes harder to be true to our authentic selves. How exactly do we align ourselves to what we’re meant to be?

Advertisements

My lesson on happiness from a wise 13 year old

September 13, 2011

The wisdom of youth

I arrived home last night feeling exhausted after a full day at the office and battling the traffic on the freeway. When I got inside my son came running up with a huge smile on his face and told me how glad he was to see me. That always gives me a big lift. I asked him why he was in such a great mood. He said it was because he’d spent the day doing lots of things that made him happy.

Good answer.

Since getting home from school he’d played tennis, had a friend over and made popcorn, jumped on the trampoline, played computer games, watched his favourite show and he was looking forward to the dinner his mum was making which smelt delicious. Life’s great when you’re 13.

This made me think about the things that I really loved to do and had slipped off the radar in recent years. So why do we let that change? If you want to be happy, then do more things that make you happy!

Do you remember the best days of your life? Are they now? If so, good for you! For most of us, though, our best days are probably times past, with fewer responsibilities, more adventure and perhaps a greater a sense of freedom.

I love my life now and don’t want to live in the past, but my son made me think about the things I used to do that made me happy. And some of those things still would today: spending an afternoon in a beer garden with friends, taking my wife to a dinner and a movie, playing guitar and driving to the beach on a warm evening to eat pizza.  Enjoying the simple things can easily get lost in the maelstrom of life. I hadn’t done any of these simple activities for ages.

So now I will. Life’s a journey and we grow and enjoy new things but wouldn’t it be fun to add some good times from the past just to break the routine; to make you even happier. And perhaps share with new friends or your kids.

Make a list of things that you love to do, the things that make life exciting and that you’ve haven’t done for some time. Highlight the ones you could still do now with your current commitments. Pick one or two that are easy and program them into your schedule for the next month, and every month. Share the experience with those you love and be happy.

What is the great order of life?

September 5, 2011

How do you see life?

There are so many pressures in life. There is pressure to succeed, to conform, and to live life by what is ‘expected’. But expected by whom; society, church, parents, peers?

Soon after we’re born we are slotted into the system like carriages on a railroad, all rumbling along the same line, in the same direction without really knowing where we are going: school, work, marriage, mortgage, kids, retirement and death. A cycle repeated over and over, largely ignoring the individuality of the participants in life’s game.

This process largely dictates that we defer happiness until some undefined future when the time is ‘right’. But it is ever? There’s always something about to happen, that’s the nature of life! We have the opportunity to embrace change and enjoy the journey.

So much of what we do has been subconsciously programmed from birth.

Our behaviour can be reactionary, unresponsive and often not responsible. We’re constantly reacting to what is imposed upon us from outside, rather than just being able to take the necessary action for what is most essential for ourselves and our well-being.

But when dependency on outside forces is diminished it becomes easier to adapt and grow. Taking responsibility for ourselves also makes it easier to change.

So take the time to question, assess, and evaluate your core beliefs and start enjoying every uncertain day.