Happiness. Contentment. Peace. The holy grail of life’s state of being….millions of words have been written about achieving it, songs are sung about it, philosophers have well…philosophised about it. So closely examined by so many yet elusive – our happiness quest seems to be the bread and butter of a multi-million dollar self-help industry. With so much information out there and vague messages like ‘do what makes you happy’ and ‘be grateful’ we are left with words that hang in space but offer little in terms of actionable advice.
The following simple visualisation is my favourite shortcut to getting to the crux of this vague discontent.
Imagine your life likened to a sturdy chair. Chairs require four strong legs to keep them stable and steady. When one or more of the legs is short – you wobble. In this way, the well-lived life has the following four pillars.
Do you have love in your life? Do you practise love? I’m not just talking about the romantic kind of love but a love of family, children, friends or even pets? Do you give love out as well as receive it? Love is a verb and requires action – do something for someone you care about – it’s a great way to get the love flowing in your life! Haters and pessimists are love blockers! Cut them loose and get the love happening all around you.
In my opinion, there is nothing worse than feeling like you aren’t growing, learning or moving forward in any way. The great news is that achievement is one of the easiest legs to address. Some people set a fitness goal like a run, triathlon or trek. Others face a fear; learn a new skill or return to study. However, don’t be discouraged if that type of goal seems way too overwhelming. Achievement doesn’t need to be eye-popping or massive; in fact, it’s OK to have a ‘small-win’ mindset. With that in mind, take a look around you. You may have finally kept a pot plant alive, cooked a brand new dish and it worked or overheard your kids being very polite (yes, that’s my version of a win). Wins, be they big or small require the same traits; persistence, effort, consistency and planning.
Sometimes you’ve just got to schedule this in. Fun is an easy leg to neglect with our busy lives. We often forego outings or socialising in favour of hanging around the house in our PJs. Two strategies here…. ‘the YES principle’, and ‘bring your A game’. Saying yes to invitations, adventures and spontaneous events open you up to the possibility of having fun. And for heaven’s sake, if you do turn up, GET INTO IT!
For me, the most elusive of the four legs to keep topped up. Freedom feels inherently tied to finances and responsibilities such as children and work. Not many would argue that more money could free us up but aside from winning the lotto, how can we access more freedom?
We need to think of freedom in all its glorious forms. Do you have freedom of mobility using your body? If not, get moving/get stronger/get rehabilitated. Are you free to be the person you are? If not, work on setting stronger boundaries and practice speaking your mind. Do you have freedom of choice? Acknowledge that and make positive ones. Breaking down freedom across aspects of our lives allows us to work on small wins many times over.
What legs are a little short in your life right now? And, what are you going to do about it? Turn to this simple and realistic visualisation when you experience that vague feeling and start working towards your individual version of the good life.
Lindsay K is a mum of 3, Girl Trekker, blogger and media maven. Bucket list trek: Argentina. She is way tall and no, she doesn’t play basketball.