Most of us have dreams and aspirations but too often we muddy the waters by mixing our wants with our needs without being the architect of that union.
Some folk are lucky in their surroundings, living comfortably with the support of family or given a bunk-up by friends with good contacts. Others may not have that support network or safety net, stuck in jobs that are unfulfilling or not conducive to achieving their goals.
But there is a way out, and its name is letting go.
Ask yourself ‘what problems do I want to solve?’
Happiness is a problem worth solving. We must make peace with the fact we are not where we want to be as the first step in getting there. If you’re reading this at the desk of the job you hate, ask yourself ‘why?’; why do you hate that job? What took you to it in the first place? Necessity? If necessity is the mother of invention, than perhaps it’s time to reinvent yourself. Not only is killing yourself to live an oxymoron, it’s a fool’s game.
Manage your expectations
We’re not all going to become Hollywood actors or rock stars or Pulitzer prize winners, much less likely will we be the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. It doesn’t mean we should abandon the things we love, it means we should absorb them. Seek out your transferable skills. More often than not there are ways of combining wants and needs, it just requires a little organisation and lateral thinking. Perhaps you’ve crushed yourself under the weight of your own expectations but there’s grace in letting go. Don’t toil to save face, let alone with yourself. Trying should be rewarded just as much as achieving.
Live within your means
Our modern society is centred around coveting of physical goods or stature. The creation of happiness depends on your quality of life and that in turn depends on what you do in your life. Many of us will have friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs, constantly at odds trying to make ends meet, giving up their time to make money and spending that money trying to better the quality of what little time they have left. By all means, have a blowout with your loved ones but think of the money saved by not drinking every night, not tying yourself into an extortionate contract to have the latest smartphone or moving somewhere that isn’t “cool”. Less focus on owning things, more focus on owning your life.
Know your body
The human body is both amazing and amazingly neglected. You don’t have to join a gym or become a triathlete but start small. Go to bed earlier. Take hourly breaks at your office job, stretch your legs, stretch your arms. Cycle to work, take a yoga class. Drink more water, eat better, learn to cook more efficiently. A tasty, healthy meal doesn’t have to be an arduous task or an epic event, it can be a 20 minute affair and your body will thank you. No medication can cure a heavy heart, but a stronger body will help carry it.
Praise, forgiveness, ownership
British culture is not the biggest proponent of praise and encouragement. The Americans seem to have a healthier attitude of self-belief and are more willing to put in the extra effort. Put yourself out there, praise yourself for trying, forgive yourself should you fail, try again. You are not a failure. Everything you have learned so far is a part of your fabric. Own your mistakes, build yourself up, better yourself. If what you are doing with your life is a source of misery over joy, work to change it. Own yourself, surround yourself in joy and life, not misery and money.
Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. (SN 45.2)