Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Balancing Act.

All of our lives, as human beings, we become absorbed with the 'pursuit of happiness' & the drive at winning the 'rat race' of life. We compare ourselves to those rare people that seem driven by a deeper mission, who move effortlessly towards their goals fueled by an internal passion. And then we continually wonder why we are unable to find such a drive & mission.

During this process, we develop a misunderstanding of what true happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment are. We begin to believe that more money, power or personal items will make us happy. In fact, we actually tell ourselves that we are not happy, when in fact, we are most likely already quite happy. Think about it? Most of us that are reading this live in a free country that minimizes life threatening poverty, are currently employed in an environment that is way above average, and have a surrounding support from family or friends.

The reality is, when we pursue our goals, like a higher income, a promotion or a new house, sooner or later after obtaining something, we will rapidly become accustomed to the new reality, and then it will soon cease to provide much pleasure. So looking for the answer of happiness in these exact items - will in fact, push you further away.

When we come to terms & finally realize this, we automatically change our focus to find a deeper reason for our 'unhappiness'. We look at ourselves & have a focus of self-interest. We try to understand the person that we are, why we do the things that we do, and what our underlying mission is. This in itself, will allow us to understand why we are not happy & satisfied with who we are & where we are at. Unfortunately for some, this self-interested focus can result in a full circle of change and lead to self centeredness and becomes all about 'ME'.

So how do we make the focus on ourselves and our own personal awareness & growth, yet avoid the tendency towards self-centeredness? In other words, how do we find our true selves without being obsessed with ourselves?

Here are some starters:

1. Find the Worthy Challenges of Life.

As humans we like challenges, particularly those that play to our strengths. We respond to the positive feedback of early successes, so choosing something that we do well will give us the confidence to charge ahead. Whether it be a sports activity, solving a business problem, or taking on the challenge of a new hobby, as long as there is a challenge, with a sequence of activities that require skill to complete a sense of 'flow' will occur. And when we establish this 'flow' we become so absorbed in the execution & completion of the task that we lose the track of time. The concern for self disappears.

2. Find the Relationships of Life.

Realize that a relatively small group of family members and friends will satisfy our long-term memories. So, consciously choosing who to invest in relationships with, makes a difference. If you want to be better, surround yourself with good people as close friends will have the most positive effect on fulfillment. Another suggestion is to have friends of a variety of generations: a generation below you will add freshness & energy, your generation will add companionship & understanding, and the generation older than you will add perspective & wisdom.

3. Find the Purpose to Thank, Appreciate & Pay it Forward.

Firstly, if you choose to see life as a gift, most likely you will have the daily passion & positivity to create positive actions. Remember, positive thoughts bring positive actions - it's NOT a secret.

Secondly, don't compare yourself to people who you believe are 'more fortunate'. Comparing upwards & believing that life is better 'up there' will only bring you further down.

Lastly and most importantly, don't make it about YOU. Because in fact, it isn't all about you. It isn't about you being 'better than' anyone else or trying to be better than the person next to you. It isn't about trying to keep up to or compare yourself to what the person next to you is doing / having / experiencing. It is about being the best that you can be & at the same time helping others to be the best that they can be.

Truly, the ultimate reward & fulfillment in life comes through paying it forward. However, as we can all see, it takes a person to be in their own 'right' place to not only pay it forward but to see & feel the reward and fulfillment in doing it.

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