“It’s not ‘What do I want to do?’, it’s ‘What kind of life do I want to have?’ “
― Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
Just this past holy week, we were at my sister-in-law’s soon-to-be house which was located in the province somewhere south of Metro Manila. I was astonished not only with the beauty of the place but also for its still fresh, unpolluted air.
The house is being built on top of a piece of land that sits on high altitude so it’s no mystery that the air was rather cold despite the intense summer heat we’re experiencing now.
I must admit I was kinda jealous and that if it was up to me, I would buy a house there too but my ultimate dream was to live in a house in the middle of a huge farm. I told my wife that upon retirement, I would like to settle down in a place surrounded by trees of different fruits. In the middle of the farm will be a small hut where I can lay down in the afternoon and read a good book then fall asleep to the fresh and strong breeze of the countryside.
My family and I will spend time together in afternoon strolls and from time-to-time, have friends come by and tell stories in front of a hearty meal. By that time, I would like to have my own business that I can do from home so I won’t have to go through the rigors of rush hour traffic.
For me, that’s what living a good life is all about. Having the freedom to do what you love, appreciating life’s simple pleasures, working for yourself instead of taking orders from a ruthless boss, doing work that doesn’t stress you out and living life to the fullest in the company of family and friends.
This is all just me though.
Unfortunately, for most people, the idea of success and fulfillment almost always equates to either money or power or both. There’s this wrong notion that the good life means having so much wealth that you can buy just about anything you set your sights on. Does it all boil down to material things when it comes to living the good life?
Perhaps the following questions can guide you so you can answer this lingering question:
Is the money you earn worth the stress your job brings?
So you have a high-paying job that gives you enough money to buy a new car and all the gadgets you could possibly have but is it really worth it even if you barely sleep and you’re always on call?
Work-life balance is extremely important in this day and age where stress has become an accepted diagnosis for people who suddenly show symptoms that doctors find difficult to explain. It’s vital for times like these when stress can actually kill you either through high blood pressure or heart attack.
This is probably the reason why companies like Google and Facebook are coming up with very creative yet unusual (compared to the traditional) ideas in redefining the workplace. Where else can you see an office space that looks more like a playground for kids in kindergarten school, not to mention the free breakfast, lunch and dinner the company offers?
HOW COOL IS THAT?
You can’t enjoy the money you earn if you’re always in the hospital sick or worse, if you’re dead because of too much stress from too much work.
When I say quality time, I mean pure, undivided, not-worrying-about-work kind of time.
While it is true that we all have responsibilities we need to fulfill for the company that helps put money in the table, it wouldn’t be bad to allot EXCLUSIVE time for your family once in a while.
Have you spent a vacation without bringing your laptop along? Have you gone out on movie dates without checking your mobile phone to check if one of your clients have accepted your proposal?
We spend majority of the day in the office. Two hours for travel, nine hours of work, then two hours again of travel. That’s like thirteen hours dude! More than half the day!
And what would you do when you reach home?
You’ll open your laptop again for one or two hours and then go to sleep. You get up early the next morning to repeat the same routine. If your kids barely see you anymore, you need to set specific boundaries when you are not at work.
Screen your phone calls, turn it off if you must, and go home early.
There’s an easy way to answer this question. If you suffer from Sunday night dread, chances are, you are doing something you don’t love at all.
We’ve all heard about the saying “do something you love and you never had to work a single day.
“Find you passion, or do something you’re passionate about.”
I used to think this was all BS but if you look closely, it is absolutely true. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work at all. It doesn’t become a chore because you enjoy doing it.
Finding your passion is a separate topic but one way to determine this is by asking yourself, what is something I love to do that I can do for free and I can spend all night doing without forcing myself?
If you can answer that question, pursue it. Learn more about it, make yourself an expert until such time when you can actually make a living out of it.
Do you have friends to have fun with?
All the money and all the power in the world would be for nothing if you don’t have anyone to spend it with. Life is much better when you have friends who support you. Friends who would always have your back.
If you don’t have friends who are loyal or if you used to have friends but now they’re gone, you may need to re-evaluate yourself.
True friends are hard to find. We all know that. It’s hard to find people you can trust and who trusts you back. People who are always willing to listen when you have problems or lend a helping hand when you need one. They don’t necessarily have to be physically present.
Most of my good friends are all abroad but we’ve always managed to have long chats from time-to-time via Skype or go out for coffee when they are in town.
No man is an island.
If you want a much sadder euphemism, imagine wanting to play tennis but can’t because no one would take the other racquet to play with you. You’ll probably end up playing squash.
Ooohhh, so sad.
Are you in good health?
When it comes to the subject of living life to the fullest, I can’t help but remember the story of Randy Pausch, author of the best-selling book, The Last Lecture.
Pausch was a computer science professor who had pancreatic cancer and was given three to six months of good health. On September 18, 2007, he delivered his infamous “last lecture” titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams where he talked about all his childhood dreams and how he achieved them while he still had the time.
This speech was the basis of the book which imparts the important lesson of living life to the fullest because we’ll never know when it will be taken.
Do you have to wait for your body to deteriorate before you start exercising, eating right and living a healthy lifestyle?
Randy Pausch was such an inspiration because he made me realize the importance of time and health. We have all the time we need to make a change. His time was limited yet he made the most out of it by spending his remaining days with his family and realizing his childhood dreams.
We are all on borrowed time and the best way to enjoy life is to be healthy and stay healthy not only for ourselves but for our families too.
Living the good life doesn’t have to center around money or power. It’s focus should be on the kind of life you want to have and the kind of people you will spend it with. Throw in good health and freedom and you’ve got yourself a wonderful life ahead.
Over to You
After reading the entire article, how would you answer the question, “are you living the good life?”
I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or share your stories below.
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