Have you ever admired someone and thought, they know how to live? The philosopher Socrates posed one very simple question about life: How should I live? Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we have stopped asking this question. Our consumerist and instant gratification society has turned this question on its head. We now ask: How do I get what I want? This question is so dangerous, we spend our whole lives chasing the things we want and as a result, we feel pain and dissatisfaction because we are waiting until we have everything we want. We never become truly happy. We delay our happiness because, we do not have the perfect body, ideal romantic partner, a fulfilling career or a certain cash flow. Our lives become dumbed down to an endless checklist of must have’s before we allow ourselves to be happy. All of this waiting has serious consequences, we become less comfortable in our own skin and less enjoyable to be around; these new qualities, stop us from having a spontaneous and charismatic personality, that people find attractive.
I want you to think of the people you admire most. When you think of the people you admire, you do not think about their possessions; instead, you think of the quality of their life. The people we truly admire, know how to live well. Think of the person you gravitate towards or want to be around when you are out with your friends. They are not the most successful or the most beautiful, they are the one who is full of life and energy, passionate, fun and have a unique sense of humour, they have a sense of adventure; they have the best character. It’s character, it’s magnetic. These magnetic people are full of passion and curiosity.
Oscar Wilde proposed that we should live life as a work of art; do we really live life so creatively? When you think of a painting, you see the layers of brush strokes, the variety of colour stretched across a canvas. Unfortunately, we do not live life this way. Instead, our lives resemble a monotonous and repetitive task, day in day out. How do we shift our focus from obtaining stuff to living a life rich in colour and creativity?
No matter what situation you are in, you have the capacity to start creating and living a beautiful life.
Create A Life List
How do you start creating a beautiful life? One of the most effective and fun ways to start the process of creating a beautiful life is through a life list; create a life list. A life list is more about, what you want in life as opposed to the things you want to have. A life list takes your focus of the things you want and refocuses you to strive to become the kind of person you want to be. We always want more, there are thousands of self-help and popular psychology books that teach us how to get the things we want, but fail to show us how to be truly happy. For me this is where self-help goes wrong, there needs to be a balance between a life full of amazing experiences and material possessions. The moment I stopped chasing stuff and focused upon becoming the best possible version of myself, I become happier.
What should go on a life list? Here are some examples of the experiences I have added to my own life list.
- Live in New York and London at least once in my life.
- Let the people I love know that I love them.
- Donʼt give generic compliments; be specific and tell people what I admire most about them.
- Perform an act of kindness for a complete stranger once a week.
- Tell people when they do something well and spend less time criticising.
- Go for breakfast with a great friend every weekend.
- Treat my body like a temple.
- Allocate time just to being creative.
- Stop wasting time worrying about things I can not control.
- Be more interested in other people; listen to their stories, ask questions and find out what drives them.
- Learn one Romance language (French, Spanish, Italian)
- Learn Chinese (Mandarin); I learnt this language at school for 5 years.
A life list is not a to-do list, where you check off or write done after the item is completed. Its purpose is to inspire, allow creativity, and to help you to become the best possible version of yourself.
I am not trying to be a spiritual leader warning humanity against its attachment to material things. There are great benefits to material possessions. However, an obsessive focus on material possessions and perfection is making us miserable. Our focus needs to be realigned and our possessions need to be put in their rightful place; to serve and make our lives better, not be the focus of our lives. Have you created a life list? What did you add to your life list? Let me know by using the comments box below.
Photo Credit: anouchka