Imagine going through life angry at the world, sad at the general state of the world and frustrated at the cards you’ve been dealt in life. Imagine feeling helpless to improve your life, mad at the world and getting angry of any imagined slight simply because of misguided frustration. Imagine being jealous and taking it out on people who seem to be living a happier life than you. Imagine wasting your life in this way. Imagine waking up every day with a heavy feeling in your chest and the weight of a burden on your shoulders. Imagine waking up, dreading the day ahead. Needing countless cups of coffee to get you going until the evening when you wash away the day with dose after dose of alcohol to get you to sleep. On and on, this endless cycle happens until one day it just ends. Another life wasted away without much to show for the decades spent on this planet.
Stop imagining this.
Just turn your eyes to the people around you. The sad truth is that most are living this way.
If you ask them why, they’ll tell you it’s because of a myriad of reasons.
They will list the state of the world as the main cause – whether it’s the environment, the economy, the politicians or “the powers that be”, the flagrant human rights violations worldwide, and on and on and on. Others will tell you it’s because of their parents, their bosses, their health, their spouse, their family, their friends, their community and so on.
You’d almost think the world has conspired to make them this way. You’d almost think the world has conspired to make them this way.
Some people feel the need to be a champion in the victim Olympics. Who has it harder? Who was given the worst life circumstances? Who is to be pitied the most?
And if you dare point out in what ways they can improve things then you will probably be blamed for being callous and uncaring. You will be told “you simply don’t understand”.
You may be thinking I’m exaggerating.
It is true that this is a caricature of most people in the world. However, for some people, this is a very accurate description. But still, let’s focus on most. For most people this is an exaggeration. If so, why did I depict it this way? Because what it describes is something most people would recognize as being far from ideal. This is not the direction you should be going. If I described it without exaggeration you may not have easily recognized how problematic this way of thinking can be.
So now that we recognize this as being the opposite of what we should strive for, let’s describe what we should be striving for.
Imagine waking up in the morning, full of vigor and calm excitement. You know that the day will throw some challenges your way but you also know that no matter what happens, how you react to it is fully up to you. You have a deep sense of calm knowing that you are responsible for your actions and reactions. Things may not always be easy, but you have the tools necessary to overcome problems. And if you don’t, it is up to you to acquire them or to move on to something else. Challenges may be small or big but you are content knowing that you will do your best and that though some will require big adjustments, some will turn out to be a much bigger net positive than you initially thought. You know that your victories are largely determined by your actions and attitudes and so are your mistakes. And best of all, you recognize that this is great news. Because if it’s up to you, then it is up to you to fix whatever you don’t like about your life and to improve it wherever possible. Outside events and other people will affect you to a certain extent but they will not control you.
Does this sound more like the type of person you want to be?
If not, I can’t help you. Nor can anyone else. Until you learn to take responsibility for yourself, you’ll just be one of life’s punching bags.
However, if this does sound more like your ideal, then this is the place for you.
“Happy families are all alike;
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”
This makes it sound like being happy is the same for everyone. There is some truth to it if we look deep. But on the surface it would seem that that is wrong. Some people are happy in corporate jobs. Some people absolutely want to be entrepreneurs. Some have no desire to build something big but just want the ability to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Some people are happy always being surrounded by others and other people are happy when they have more time to spend alone. Some people prefer the city, others prefer nature. There is no one right way to live life and anyone who tells you an exact recipe for a good and happy life is not being truthful. Are there recipes for living better lives than average? Possibly. Is there a recipe for living your best life? No. And it’s good that there is no one way. This means we each have the challenge to find what it is that makes us happy.
No one, including myself, can’t tell you what you need to do to live your best life.
What I can do is give you some guidelines on which you can build a strong base so you can venture out and find what it is that makes you happy.
Welcome to The Good Life Manifesto!