Many days, I sit with an invisible struggle that has plagued me a lot since I traded my frantic corporate life for a somewhat less frantic business of my own. The question I tussle with often is, “does a better life mean more?” While working today, I stumbled on this article at Psychology Today that shed some light on the battle being waged in my head and heart. It declares that Life Is Series of Trade-offs. It’s a great article that I highly recommend reading after you’re done here.
As Americans, we’re trained to believe that if we don’t have all the trappings of success, we can’t possibly be happy. Great job. Perfect kids who will eventually become president. Fit bodies adorned with thick, beautiful hair. Vacations that make all our friends jealous. Social lives that belong on the pages of magazines.
Today, I’ve concluded that it’s all LIES driven by the titans of consumerism. Which I imagine comes as no surprise to anyone.
I’m not poo-poo-ing consumerism. I myself am a serial consumer. What I am trying to do is bring awareness – mine and anyone who’ll read this – to the fact that we judge ourselves based on factors determined by forces that don’t have our best interest at heart. The trade-off is that we shortchange the things that actually do make us happy – if we even know how to recognize them anymore.
As I sit here among my trappings, I still feeling like something huge is missing. If you feel the same way, I urge you to try this on for size.
Get to know what truly makes you happy. You’ll recognize it when you’re experiencing it. Your heart will feel like it’s glowing when you’re engaged in it. Maybe you feel the glow when watching your child achieve something. Maybe it’s when you’re with friends and family. That’s what does it for me. Maybe you get off on being in the spotlight. Or when you’ve accomplished something you thought was beyond you, or when you’re taking on a new challenge.
Once you identify a source of your glow, take it in. Be present in the experience. For most of us that’s a foreign concept, but I offer this instruction. While there, don’t send your mind ahead to the next task. Honor this moment by looking around you. Breathe in the experience and smell your surroundings. To help quiet your mind, take at least 5 deep breaths that fill your entire torso. Close your eyes and listen to the place that makes you happy. Feel the air on your skin and your body making contact with it’s surroundings. Acknowledge that glowing feeling in your chest without judging it. Do this and you’ll be meditating on the moment – your moment and no one else’s.
So I say a better life does mean more – more moments that make you feel like that. Money in the bank, a roof over your head and kids you can be proud of are definitely important, and we will always make trade-offs to secure those things. But genuine happiness lies in trading less of your glow for more “stuff” that we’re brainwashed into believing will serve the same purpose.