Living a life on your terms
Life is fleeting, fragile, and none of us know what’s round the corner.
And yet…most people live it as if there’s always tomorrow – to plan, to create, to change careers, to make ourselves happy.
In short, the life we dream about is just that – a dream.
Ask yourself, if you were living a life on your terms, how different it would be?
Would you be working for someone else?
Would you live where you do now?
Would you have the same interests?
Would your income goals be the same?
If the apogee of human existence is happiness (not self-actualisation), then why do we rely on such fleeting moments of happiness in living by someone else’s rules? It may well be that the trade-off between what you have and those few moments of happiness are worth it to you. However, there’s a risk, if we’re not careful, that we switch off from living and instead devote ourselves to the status quo. Is that you? (Osho talked about us acting as somnambulists – I don’t think he was wrong.)
Of course, the elephant in the room is fear? Yes, but what’s so fearful about fear?
Again, if you were to write down what you fear i.e. “I fear losing my job, having no money, losing my house and being made bankrupt”, you would find, even in the act of expression, your mind would coalesce in one of two ways; namely you would either apply a fixed mindset or one of growth (see Mindset by Carol Dweck).
In the fixed mindset, you would resolve that the risk of change wasn’t worth the potential pain, heartache and loss of esteem. In the growth mindset not only would you see the risk/reward through a different lens but, in time, you would challenge the status quo sufficient to get a proper feel for living a different life. (Ask yourself this question: Why is it in the face of death or loss, we seem able, at a moment’s notice, to make monumental change? Perhaps it’s only in that moment that we see (our) life for what it truly is.)
The truth is, you either want to change or you don’t.
As I opined the other day, I don’t see many books written about ‘success’ books. In any event, they always seem based on personal experience not a universal truth.
But, in any event, you don’t need to read a book to recognise what you need to do to change. All those conversations you have inside your head tell you everything you need to know.
How about you addressed just one of the areas that you know you need to change? It could be to take more exercise; or to stop drinking; or to stop lying to yourself (how many times have you said you will do something, only to ignore the plaintive cry?).
One final point. In writing this post, I’m acutely aware that even to suggest change could be the ego’s way of keeping you from a more aligned process of self-inquiry (see Who Am I? by Sri Ramana), but I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll arrive at a place where you understand the innate quality of happiness until you’ve worked out whose life you’re living. This isn’t meant to sound tendentious, but, fundamentally, we need to work out a lot more about our lives – e.g. why this as opposed to that? – before we can dig deeper in our quest for self-illumination or enlightenment.
Remember, your life is your life, not someone else’s.