What does it mean to ‘get ahead’ and who defined that for you?
Whenever I go running in an area where the average daily wage is $2, I am reminded of this privilege. For me to participate in an activity that might burn 800 calories in one hour when surrounded by people who may only consume one 600 calorie meal per day is a mind-bender. Still, I run past smiling faces, joyful singing coming from the churches, people busily sweeping the streets with such pride, sharing “salaama” greetings (peace), and I think “who is happiest?” Many would agree that finding meaning in one’s life, or feeling purposeful, is perhaps the most important factor in true happiness. Why do so many of us Westerners exercise more so we can eat more or weigh less? Work more so we can earn more or have less time? Schedule more activities so we can be in more places or take on more responsibilities and thus have less rest? Buy more so we can have more stuff to store, more debt to finance and less cash on hand?
I studied micro and macro economics and have started some businesses. I understand opportunity cost and wealth creation, and I too can fall prey to the common ways of Western living (don’t get me wrong – we’ve got some good things going!) No doubt I will be jumping back on that wagon soon, but I hope it will be with more intention and awareness each time I return to stateside living. I do believe it is important to have a ‘rainy day fund’ and to some extent planning for the future makes global sense. However it can also take us out of the present and often is based in fear, equally counter-productive as the attempt to fill some void through constant consumption. I will not waste my energy or create unnecessary stress by living in the ‘what-iffs’. As always, it is a balance.
Thank you to all of my mentors and guides who are showing me what it means to lead more from heart than head. I affirm today that there is plenty of everything to go around, it is simply a matter of (re)distribution and shifting one’s mindset.
Addendum: One day after drafting this post I was presented with the following TedX presentation. I encourage you to check it out if you are interested in shifting your living from ‘more’ to ‘enough’. https://youtu.be/GgBpyNsS-jU
The White Picket Fence Syndrome is what I call the illusion of happiness. Things look good on the outside but it’s a thunderstorm inside. The lawn is manicured, the house is freshly painted, and there might even be children’s laughter in the distance. The Facebook page is in order, with all the right photos and engaging discussions, and our daily routine is representative of a balanced (jam-packed) life. We are “keeping up” and “getting through the day”. We are living for our next vacation, the next raise, the fancier car, the weight loss, the phone call, the soul mate, the uninterrupted sleep, and oh boy won’t it be so great when we can retire at age 63.5 and “get by” on what we’ve saved and what we hope the government will provide. This looks like survival mode to me.
But HOW ARE YOU REALLY? Sometimes it is productive, effective and even authentic to fake it ’til you make it. Sometimes it is just fake. Can you be real, honest and positive at the same time? Do you ever hear yourself talking and wish you would just shut up already? When you are sick and tired of the story you are telling yourself and others, let me know and I can guide you toward a new way. I hit my bottom of all bottoms in 2006 but I have still have times when I hit emotional bottoms, and now it is clear to me when it’s time for a shift because I don’t even want to be in the same room with myself. Yikes!
Here’s the thing – it’s an inside job. The seeds might be planted by other people or external forces but only you can make the choice to go deep. I remember when I was pregnant with my son and I put on 50 pounds. When I went into labor I tipped the scales at 180 pounds, and I was full of fear about how that weight would come off. Since I’d never had a baby before I had no frame of reference. I learned about Brown Fat. It protects our baby in the womb, cushions our body and covers our muscle tissue when we mamas are pregnant. It also stores rich nutrients like omega 3 so that we are ready to feed and grow a new human! Our bodies are using so much energy that we need new stores of it and once our baby is born, the fat is used for fuel and food. It peels off quickly and I was back to my normal weight within three months.
In order to get past the white picket fence we put up to present a certain image, and to make ourselves feel like we are living a fulfilling life, we must also shed this brown fat that is protecting our heart and soul. I know it is scary but you will notice a difference instantly, and you will be astounded at how every area of your life begins to shift into a flow state. When your true self feels heard, it will respond with so much gratitude and love that you will start to trust yourself again. You will be reminded that you have all the answers within, and life becomes easier, more fun and less rushed.
To learn more and to tap into your true self, consider an introductory Thrive Guidance session with me. I book one month out so email me now to schedule: sara(dot)firstname.lastname@example.org.