A set of common complaints most of us have are, ‘I have too many problems. I can’t deal with these problems. I wish I didn’t have so many problems. I wish my life were easier.’
But what is an easy life?
Is it a picture perfect neighborhood with white picket fences and perfectly groomed lawns? Is a life without problems and when they do arise, they’re solved like the ending of family sitcom?
Would that make us satisfied?
I think a life devoid of challenge, problems and tough times is far worse than any picturesque sitcom life. Such a life would not be satisfying mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Life is meant to be challenging, difficult and arduous. Without these integral characteristics of life, we would often feel unfulfilled and unhappy.
All of our growth, progression and perspective in life directly erupt from our challenges and experiences. In these moments, all our mental and physical strength is galvanized towards a specific moment, as we harness the hidden power deep within ourselves to overcome any feat.
The perfect life leaves us sedentary. If we don’t constantly chase never-ending improvement, we will eventually become unsatisfied with our circumstances.
Soon we will start feeling unsatisfied with the white picket fences and the perfectly groomed lawns. Without real problems to challenge us, we will lose the drive to improve.
Perspective of Problems
Our problems gives us the opportunity to grow and improve, but only if we view them as such.
When we are faced with problems, we can feel and think only one of two ways-The positive or the negative.
Who we choose to embody will inevitably change our perspective. Weighing the circumstances, which person – the negative or the positive – will produce the better result?
Which perspective will make us stronger, or, conversely, weaker? In the ultimate end, who we embody is completely our choice.
We can choice to be wholly negative and wish for the picturesque white picket fences, or we can be wholly positive, push through our problems with great stride and grow stronger.
When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by.
Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.
Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.
Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.
However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.
One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.
Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find attainable without ever stopping to truly consider it.
This is tough to believe mainly because one of the most frequent mantras for what is missing in most lives is, ‘I need more balance.’ We hear about balance so much that we automatically assume it’s exactly what we should seek.
We should be seeking purpose, significance, and happiness, the qualities that persist in a successful life.
Seek those important qualities and you will more than likely live a life out of balance, crisscrossing an invisible middle line as you pursue those qualities.
Think of balance as the middle line, and out of balance when we’re away from it. Get too far and we’re now living in the extremes.
The persistent problem with the middle is that it prevents us from making extraordinary time commitments to anything. Stay here too long and our lives will grow stale and ordinary.
Stray away from the middle and we could get reckless, marginally living a terribly hard life, devoid of relationships, fond memories and love.
Knowing when to pursue the middle and the extremes is true knowledge. Results are achieved with perfect negotiation with your time.
The reason we should never pursue absolute balance is because the magic never happens in the middle.
Magic happens at the extremes.
The extremes are where we are truly tested in will and guts. Our strengths are galvanized towards a lifelong dream. We naturally understand that success lies at the outer edges, but we don’t know how to manage our lives when we’re out venturing.
When we work too long, our personal life suffers. We unfairly blame work when we say, ‘I have no life.’ Even when work doesn’t pose a threat, our personal lives can be filled with endless ‘have-tos’ that we, once again, reach the same conclusion, ‘I have no life.’
When we get bombarded by both sides – professional and personal – we face an imminent breakdown and once again proclaim, ‘I have no life.’
Time waits for no one.
If we stray too far to the extremes, chasing our professional lives, we forget to cherish the middle, the simple.
Sometimes our work schedules become overwhelming, but our belief is that if we work hard now, we can enjoy the fruits of labor later.
Push something to an extreme and postponement can become permanent.
We seem to believe that we can make up for lost time.
But do we really think that we can get back a child’s birthday or bedtime story? Is a party for a five-year old with imaginary friends the same as a dinner with a teenager with high-school friends?
In Click, Adam Sandler has an epiphany before death where he says, ‘family first.’ Realizing all the time he spent at work instead of with his family, gave him his biggest regret.
He couldn’t make up for lost time. He couldn’t find balance.
Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.
Finding the right amount is essential to our personal and professional lives. Through careful deliberation of our activities, we can slowly understand where our time is best spent.
We have to spend our time on what matters most to us, instead of scrambling with minutiae. We have to accept the fact that not everything can get done in our days, weeks, months, years, and lives.
We need to realize where our true passions and priorities lie in life. We need to separate all the important activities from the things we think are important.
Professional and personal success are measured equally. If we do not treat bodies with respect, our families and friends with respect, we suffer immeasurable in the latter.
If we do not achieve professional success, we feel defeated and depressed, bringing those feelings into our personal lives.
We must crisscross the invisible line, while simultaneously chasing purpose, significance, and happiness.
We must spend a little extra time sharing memories with our families and friends and being mindful of ourselves – our bodies and minds.
We must also focus on our professional goals by working our hardest – but not longest – and giving our entire being in that singular moment.
Balance cannot be achieved.
The art of counter-balancing is a more realistic goal. With everything that we do in our professional life, equal time must be spent in our personal lives, and vice versa.
When I die, I want to have the shortest list of regrets possible. With that in mind, making sure to be mindful of my body, treasuring my relationships and chasing professional success are goals, which are strived for equally.
Habits control every aspect of our entire lives. What time we wake up in the morning to what we consume daily to whether or not we binge eat those cookies are all governed by habits.
What is a habit?
A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
As we continually do the same activities every day, our brain becomes accustomed to the same stimulation. It forms strong neural connections, which makes the activity easier and easier to occur.
Eventually, our brain conducts itself automatically. It chooses to take the shortest, simplest path to immediate gratification.
Binge eating cookies is just an automatic habit because our brain knows we love cookies. Smoking cigarettes when we’re stressed are automatic patterns that our brains use because at one time we used cigarettes to cope with stress.
Building strong effective habits are the foundation for a stable healthy lifestyle. But today, we’re not going to focus on my unhealthy addiction to cookies or someone’s unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Instead, let’s talk about the Recalibration Technique
Everyone has goals and aspirations that they want to achieve. We have dreams that garner all our attention and energy but over time we dwindle, until our dream is left stranded.
But when was the last time we sat down and consciously thought and put purposeful energy towards our purpose?
From time to time it’s worthwhile to stop and take stock of our lives. But it seems we only do this practice towards the beginning or end of a year.
To deepen our understanding of our purpose we must first learn lessons from the past and move with purposeful action towards the future. We must continue to refocus our lives and slowly build clarity of our purpose.
The Recalibration Technique provides a framework to build focus and clarity. Through these two simple questions that we developed, we are able to recalibrate our minds when we falter.
1) Am I purposefully using my time and energy towards my dream?
With the constant hustle of life, it can be hard to focus on our purpose and ourselves. We get lost in the fast lane, as life passes us by.
We should ask ourselves this question to refocus our life and make small steps towards our passions. Aim to move towards your goal by just 1% each week.
If you want to write a book, write just one paragraph (or page) a day. If you want to paint a masterpiece, just do a few strokes a day. If you want to learn, sing, or act, just make some small moves by reading, humming or roleplaying every day.
Every day is a new day to move closer to your dreams. Use it appropriately.
Without a clear understanding of where our lives are heading and when we will achieve it, we are just wasting our most precious resource – energy.
2) Where can I expend less energy to spend more on my dream?
Everyday we are constantly bombarded with mind-numbing tasks. People want our energy and time and we allow them to steal it without batting an eyelash.
Refocus your spare time and energy towards your goal. Ask yourself where you frequently compromise your time. Where do you frequently consume negativity because you feel like you are stuck in a situation?
We are never stuck in any situation. We choose to be in the current situation through our mindsets and perceptions.
Which situation or action can we desist to pursue more purposeful actions towards our happiness and dream? When can we say a resounding ‘No’ to the negative energy, people and situations in our lives to pursue the positive counterparts?
Your choices and decisions make up whom you are. Chose them wisely.
Here is your mission if you choose to accept it:
Ask yourself these two simple questions once a week and slowly move towards once a day. Take some time, find a quiet spot and write or type your way through the answers.
The Recalibration Technique is intended to help you live with greater purpose and more passion. As the habit is solidified, your brain will constantly refocus your life and will take the shortest, easiest path towards it.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Before, 2HelpfulGuys, we’ve failed at everything. We started organizations that tanked and projects that flopped. But that fear of failure never stopped us.
Each time we failed, we’d try something else. Everyone possesses the power of perseverance – the power to push forward to the very end despite failure.
Failure is necessary.
But the fear of failure prevents us from ever starting. We foresee the future and all the horrible things before we even take our first step. We get scared and run away.
In achieving our dreams, we must overcome the fear of failure. We possess the power to look beyond failure and persevere.
It is these moments that our concentration was galvanized, our best efforts called upon, and our strength, will and courage tested.
Quotes have the ability to impact our lives. We read quotes every single day for an inspirational recharge or a motivational boost. We can place ourselves in the author’s mindset and experience their feelings.
When we allow the quote to set within us, it changes the way we perceive life. We’re more open, engaged, present and fulfilled.
I wonder if our work has impacted anyone out there yet. I doubt it. But maybe someday, someone will read something we write, and it will resonate with them as much as TheAlchemisthas resonated with me.
Reading this novel has made me want to delve into other fictitious works. So if anyone has any recommendations, feel free to leave a comment.
We cannot control every aspect of our lives and we shouldn’t even attempt to. In fact, most of the misery people feel in life comes from attempting to control the uncontrollable.
We can’t control the economy or the weather. And we most definitely cannot control others.
All we can control is ourselves – our character, our outlook, our actions and contributions.
Everything else, for the most part, is largely uncontrollable.
But still, we try. Why?
It is an instinctual desire to have a larger sense of control over our inner and outer worlds. We want control over our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. We want to control our outcomes and the relationships we have in the outside world. But we mustn’t stray to far.
Control is a double-edged sword
If we have too much control, we can become rigid and inflexible. We start expecting things to turn out exactly as planned and lose our ability to adapt when things go awry.
On the opposite end, if we have no control in our lives, we can feel like we’re in a tailspin. No control means little choice over our wills, paths and life purposes. We are left to the whims of luck and chance.
We can’t tell you how much control is sufficient. It varies from person to person. Our levels of control might be someone else’s definition of too much or too little. We all need different levels at different points in our lives.
Although, through our many experiences, we have figured out one thing we can control, without wandering too far in either direction.
Control our inner world
Sometimes the bus arrives early and we miss it by a few moments. Or someone close to you hurts you. Or it could be as trivial as your roommate drinking all the milk.
Regardless of the problem, most of what happens to us is completely out of our control. However, our ultimate response – how we react – is directly under our control.
How we perceive each situation determines how we feel. But, a positive outlook is tougher than we might expect. Our perceptions are informed by a compilation of what we consume on a daily basis.
Almost everything we see or read is some form of negativity or chaos. The average person watches four hours of television and then spends another few hours browsing the Internet.
Between the television and the Internet, we can’t escape the clutches of negativity.
If we want to control our inner world – our thoughts, feelings and actions – we have to consider the information we consume.
Perhaps we should use the extra ‘TV time’ purposefully consuming positive and empowering information. Or meet with friends that will lift us up. Or work through and tackle new challenges that remind us how strong we really are.
We have to safeguard our outlook to control our interpretations of the world around us. We have to seek optimism with urgency.
Being an optimist means that we are able to find the glimmer of good in every person, situation, and problem. We able to be hopeful when things go awry. We are able to adapt when things don’t proceed as planned.
Optimism, like pessimism, is a choice completely under our control. Given the choice, which should we choose – a life of positive experiences or negative expectations?
Which way shall we steer our lives today and every day?
What will we stand for today? Will we allow petty situations to overwhelm us? What kind of positive values and beliefs shall we release to the world every day?
When we align our positive outlook with diligent intention, we can begin to take control of our internal worlds and feel happier and more fulfilled.
We can face the worlds’ challenges head-on and become an unshakeable fortress.
So today, when everyone is tryingto control the bus schedule or trying to stop their roommates from drinking all the milk, spend your time purposely with the intent of controlling your unshakeable optimistic outlook.