Everybody seems to have an opinion on what we need to do in life in order to be happy. Some people will tell you that the formula for happiness involves a certain type of career or making a specific amount of money. Others will tell you it is about the type of car you drive or the house you live in. Still others might say it revolves around your marital status and the number of kids you have. For some it will relate to your education, while for others it will be all about your experiences. So who’s right? – Society? Your family? Your friends? Your co-workers? You? Whose formula will really bring you the life and the happiness you desire?
Maybe a better question is, does any of that really matter? Is there is a one size fits all formula for happiness? Does the formula for happiness even remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime?
Just as life is not static, neither will the formula for a fulfilling, happy life be.
So how can we cultivate an approach to life and the happiness we desire that is uniquely our own…a path that lights us up and gets us excited about who we are and what we are doing? How can we remain comfortable with our own path and stand strong in our choices if/when our path differs from what “everyone” says we should be doing? These are questions some people spend a lifetime struggling with, but the answers are out there. You just need to have some tools to help you successfully navigate that journey. To that end, here are 5 ways you can mindfully create your own unique approach to life:
- Meditate daily: Taking time to quiet your mind and silence the voices that repeatedly tell you what “everyone else” thinks you should be doing. Give your own inner voice a chance to speak its mind. Daily meditation is a powerful way to clear out the stuff that is inconsequential and to focus on what really matters so you can make clear, intentional, and meaningful decisions about what you want and how best to go about getting it.
- Be true to yourself: If something makes your soul sing, then you should do it. Whatever you choose to do in life, let it be something that feels good and true to you…and know it will not be what others will choose to do and that is okay. Don’t sacrifice who you are in an attempt to meet the expectations of others. Our individuality and unique personalities are what make each of us special and important in this world – remember that.
- Create a Board of Directors: Who do you trust most for honest feedback? It could be a family member or a long time friend. Maybe it is a mentor or colleague. Whoever it is, identify a few core people (no more than 3-5) and make them your Board of Directors. If you find yourself in a space where you aren’t sure what is the best choice for you, seek counsel from those trusted individuals who know you well and who will be honest with you. Often they can help you see things you cannot about a situation and with that clarity you can then move forward with a mindful decision for yourself.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people: Take a good look at the people with whom you interact daily. Choose to be with those who reflect the good in life…those who are positive and supportive. And while you may not get to choose some of the people you have to interact with on a daily basis (i.e. people you come across in the course of your daily routine at places like restaurants and shops, co-workers, etc.), for those you do have control over (the ones you choose to spend your free time with) choose wisely. There is enough negativity in the world without adding to it by inviting negative people into your life. Work on limiting your exposure to the negative people in your life and focus on sharing your space with people who have a good and positive energy to them – it will undoubtedly rub off on you and help you to cultivate an approach to life that brings you great joy and happiness.
- Embrace change: Life is ever-changing. Regardless of the mindful approach you choose for your life, things will come along and derail you. It will happen, but when it does, don’t allow that change or unforeseen circumstance to stop you from living life in a way that is true to who you are. Look at it for what it is, a change. What can be learned from it? What do you want to do next given these new factors? Mediate on it. Seek counsel from your Board of Directors. Embrace it. You can’t change it, but you can control how you allow it to impact your approach to life. And remember, since life is not static your approach to life will likely change numerous times – it’s part of the process so embrace it and allow it to become a catalyst for great things in your life rather than a road block.
Sadly, so many people work their entire lives trying to meet society’s expectations…trying to follow the formulas for success and happiness that everyone else says we should follow. And often, in doing so, they fail to meet their own individual need for happiness. It is a sad state of affairs that leads many to a life filled with unhappiness, stress, disappointment, lost opportunities and potential. Be brave and break that chain in your own life. Dare to create your own unique, mindful approach to life.