It took me a long time to be at peace with myself. For many years, I pursued things and people I thought would make me happy. The ending of this saga was not good for me as you can imagine.
Understanding what I wanted
For a year and a half, I systemized as much as I good in the business so as to be able to spend a lot more time introspecting on what it was I truly wanted. I read a lot. I studied a lot. I stared out into space A LOT! It was worth it, I started to learn who I was and what it was that made me tick. I started to feel deep inside what it was that would make me happy and I started to rediscover the person in me that had been hiding for so long.
Unfortunately, I spent many years unhappy. From the age of 8 until 32 I had happy moments but I wasn’t ever really happy. When I first said this to my therapist she asked me if that made me sad. It’s a good question. I spent so many years unhappy that I could say that I wasted those years. I could say that the best years of my life were lost in and to sadness. I could. But I’ve chosen not to. Instead I choose to believe that, like Edison, I discovered many ways of living that were not right for me and I wouldn’t ever know it for sure unless I tried it. And so, I tried it and it wasn’t for me.
Also, it is letting me appreciate the good in my life even more! I have become one of the more serene people you will find. Not because I’ve won the lottery (I’m still a hustler at heart), not because I’ve found my human partners in crime for life (my little flock) and not because of any external reason, but simply because I have found inner peace.
How to find inner peace
I went on a journey that ended very close to home. First I read. I always loved reading and discovering new worlds that had no boundaries in my imagination, so I went back to that. I read the classics – Dostoyevsky, Dumas, Shakespeare and the ever endearing Twain, amongst many others. For me those are magical, they transport you to other lives, other cultures, other times, other thoughts.
Finding your own path
Some people use drugs to leave their lives temporarily and discover other worlds. Me, I read classics. I also read books and musings of more modern successful people. I wanted to see what they had to teach me about life and business. Thanks to them I learned the tools I wanted to make my business be more systemized and efficient. I learned what they did as successful CEOs, investors and consultants. I appreciated the success they had and realized what the pros were if I chose to follow that path. I imagined myself being one of them. I imagined myself leading the life they had on a day to day basis. And I felt, that though I could appreciate it, it wasn’t what I wanted.
In addition to reading, I would take a walk by the sea every day. The air by the sea is always so pure and refreshing. I loved it. While there I would think about everything I had read during the day. I would imagine myself in different situations. These walks started to open something deep inside of me. I have always had a love/ hate relationship with the sea. It terrifies me just as much as it calms me. I can’t explain it but I love it. It’s always exhilarating and serene at the same time. Maybe it’s the duality of the water that I like. Maybe it’s because in it, I will find whatever it is I need, no matter what it is I need at that time.
My readings brought me to Seneca. I loved the Stoic philosophy. I could find in it ideas that I felt were compatible with my way of seeing life. Be thankful for what you have for no matter how little you have because it could always be worse. The simplicity of the Stoic philosophy is attractive to me.
I found contentment in simplicity
Recently, a girl I was seeing opened my closet and turned around to stare at me in shock. Her first question was “How long has it been since you’ve done laundry?” I answered it was only a few days ago. “So where have your clothes disappeared?” You’re looking at most of them. “Do you want me to go shopping with you for new clothes?” Nope. I’m good.
Thank goodness she didn’t open my fridge. That may also have shocked her. I eat simple food and I don’t deviate much from day to day. I have the same thing every day for breakfast, the same thing every day for lunch and the same things every day for dinner. Once in a while, I’ll change it up. Aren’t I bored? No. The meals I make are nutritious and the simplicity of it makes my life much easier. Let’s be honest, I’m no chef. So as long as my meals taste good, how much better will it get if I start to change things? Maybe a little bit, but not by much.
This simplicity is such a calming idea and leaves so much more room in my life for the more important things. I absolutely fell in love with it. I started testing everything in my life based on this new standard. You know how sometimes you can’t put your finger on something until someone else spells it out for you? Exactly what happened here. I was testing everything in my life to check whether it would meet my needs yet still be simple. And then one day my aha moment. I was again reading, as always, and I came across Pareto’s Law.
Quick reminder of it’s definition – 20% of the input (actions) bring 80% of the results. So I decided right then and there to focus only on the 20% that would bring me the 80%. I spend a lot of time testing things to see if they are part of the 20%. A lot of people may assume this is a waste of time but the idea behind it is that even if at first I spend more time finding out what is the 20%, ultimately this will save me a lot of time and effort in the future. So I started putting everything to the test.
Test, analyse, plan
Work, processes, relationships, nutrition habit, training habits, etc. Everything was put to the test. Incredibly enough I started seeing more results than ever before with less effort. This was a far cry from my perfectionist days in the beginning but it was such a freeing feeling that it was incredible! I was enjoying life more, earning more, keeping better relationships and all by doing less and doing it more simply.
Coming back to the source
One of the relationships that became stronger throughout this time was with my grandmother. I am very happy that she is living a long and healthy life otherwise I never would have had the chance to have this relationship with her since for a long time we weren’t close. One day we were talking and I told her about this new philosophy of mine of keeping things simple and making sure they were part of the 20%. She was quiet for a second and then said “Tout ce qui n’est pas utile est inutile” and in English “Whatever is not useful is useless”. This little phrase is a phrase I grew up with. It was our family motto. My grandmother’s grandfather used to say it all of the time (I have no idea if he came up with it or got it from his parents and grandparents). This phrase was a part of who I am but for some reason it’s meaning was lost on me until I rediscovered it by wandering around other people’s minds and cultures with my reading. Right under my nose this entire time was my life philosophy. So if you too are a searcher of truth, may I suggest you first look closer to home, you may be surprised at what you find there. And if it’s still not satisfying, the world is great, big and full of wonders and wisdom. Go forth and enjoy.
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