A principle I hold true is that one of the key purposes of life is to be happy - to find true joy.
I don't know about everybody else - but saying "no" to that rootbeer float calling my name from the fridge every night isn't getting any easier. The problem with rootbeer floats and so many things - one is AWESOME but can also be "habit forming". As it turns out rootbeer floats every night won't make me happy. Finding true happiness proves to be pretty difficult.
I'm just like anybody else - when my friends post lavish photos of themselves in Bora Bora (a destination that is on my bucket list) I can sometimes feel envy. I wish I was there. I wonder what did I do wrong in my life that created the circumstances that make it so that I'm NOT in Bora Bora - and they are.
A wise friend and mentor has been teaching me the secret to creating the life and LIFESTYLE I'm seeking. Here's a quick checklist to break down the things gleaned from my buddy who lives a phenomenal lifestyle. Hopefully you find it useful.
- Live empowered. We are the product of and accountable for our choices.
- Figure out what you (and your family) truly VALUE. Drill down into this list. What types of activities do you value? How do you want to spend your time? If you died what would you regret NOT doing? Recognize that there isn't enough time to do everything. Create a written list. Firmly grasping what you value is the first step toward aligning your activities with your priorities.
- Choose to ELIMINATE things from your life. Spending time, energy, and money on things that aren't high on your list might provide you with fun today - but it won't create the fulfillment you are seeking. They are DISTRACTIONS. Be on purpose. It is easy to get caught in the trap of "this is just what you do", or "this is what we've always done". Competition dance or soccer for the kids can be gratifying for some - but terrible for others. It's easy to spend our time and resources chasing a dream that isn't your dream - before you even tried enough different things to know what your dream is.
- Surround yourself with people who will make you better. The most important part of this is the reality that we are always changing - and becoming more like the people we are closest to. Actively seek out opportunities to be close to the people you want to become more like. Another part of this point is to eliminate people from your life that make you feel bad. Do so with love and forgiveness in your heart for them - but choose not to be weighed down by haters and trolls.
- The principle of SACRIFICE. Giving up something you value to give someone close to you something they value is always a path to closeness and love - and happiness. Teaching my son to choose between 2 things he loves is a sure way to help him appreciate what he loves most. This principle is so important I would tell you that if you aren't sacrificing something in your life for something else you value more - you are missing a huge opportunity for happiness.
- Work daily and weekly from little to big. If you spend an hour a day figuring out your list, and then an hour per day on the little things - giving yourself permission to be flexible - you'll soon make discoveries. Write these down as well.
- Work yearly on one or two BIG things. There is no time like now - and before you know it time will be gone. So many people express that they didn't think they could do something until they just decided to do it - and then did it.
- Remember that while what you value in your life can change over time - but it is important not to allow yourself to be fluid with your core values. Few things are as guaranteed to destroy your happiness - and potentially your family, children and your future as buying into the lie that values are subjective. There is no substitute for just being good.
- VARIETY. Mix things up and try new things. Ordering the same thing every time at that restaurant because you love it is fine - but throw yourself a curve ball every once in awhile. It will lead you to appreciate what you know you love more, and you might just discover something brand new.
I've got such a long way to go to create the life I want for myself and my family - but I'm grateful for the life I've had so far. I feel truly blessed.