Do you feel as though life is one endless drama after another? Are you constantly wishing all your problems would simply dissolve into nothingness? Surely you know the feeling – you’re on vacation on an island resort without a care in the world. It’s as though time stands still and all your mental and emotional concerns simply vanish while on holiday.
I’ve spoken with many people over the years who vowed their life would be different once they returned from vacation. They would create more time to unwind, relax and not take life so seriously. Given their well-meaning intentions, sure enough the speed of life takes hold and they find themselves back to the same old routine.
Certainly there must be a way to reclaim life while not allowing our defeats and struggles to define who we are? I was discussing this very topic with a friend last week who was lamenting his recent toils. My friend brought up a point which fixed itself in my mind. As one who has struggled financially over the years, he was looking for a way to leave his meaningless job. He sought to run a business which allowed him more free time to pursue other interests, but most importantly a job which offered mental and emotional satisfaction.
He refused to be defined by his strive for a better life any longer. He felt when and if success finally arrived, he would be incapable of appreciating it since he had become preoccupied with worry and strain for most of his adult life. In some way he had learned to become a victim to the pain. The notion of living a purposeful life was now an elusive dream.
Have you ever experienced a similar situation?
Pain or Pleasure Anyone?
Reclaiming life is not defined by an external change in circumstances, rather it requires a resetting of your internal compass. The decision to create a new blueprint for your life must come from a deep desire to change for the better. The Freudian psychological principle known as the pain – pleasure principle states that humans have an inner drive toward seeking pleasure or conversely running away from pain.
You either attract opportunities that serve your highest potential or equally get stuck in a painful cycle of undesired outcomes. The downfall of the pain cycle is that you learn to model the behaviour of mice within a lab experiment administered electric shock. It has been reported that over time, mice become addicted to pain as a result of the electric shock and thus a vicious circle ensues.
In order to reclaim life, take ownership of your thoughts, choices and actions. We are solely responsible for steering the course of our destiny. As to which channel your ship ventures into may depend on the forces of life. Your task is to orientate yourself in the right direction while continuing to advance forward, despite the consequences of life.
Many success and leadership experts speak of the need to reframe failure if we are to attain success. I recall early in my career how debilitating failure was to my personal identity. As time passed and with a number of failures under my belt, I let go of the need to attach failure to my personal worth. In fact when I let go of failure as a negative consequence, I began to view it as something which had very little power over me.
You may wish to view failure as an opportunity to advance closer to your goals; not further away. Do not attach failure to self-esteem, since doing so will halt and derail your progress. Transform your frustrations and fears into enthusiasm and passion. People who are enthusiastic and passionate are more inclined to enjoy the journey through life. In doing so, they seldom focus on the end result. If you love what you do and do what you love, the process can be more rewarding than the final result.
Pursue that which resonates with your deepest self. Everything else is extraneous when you identify what is most important to you. Far too many people focus on superficial pursuits while neglecting the bigger picture, hoping that trying everything will return a favourable outcome. This may be akin to painting a masterpiece by throwing paint at a canvas, wishing it will transform itself into a Rembrandt!
Mostly importantly don’t let life pass you by. Take life by the reigns by being in command of your choices. Whilst you have little control over the outcomes of those choices, you still have power in how you respond to them. I love this wonderful quote by the poet Maya Angelou, “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.”
Reclaiming life then becomes an extension of one’s inner state of being. Once you attain this state, your inner and out worlds will collide in blissful harmony.
Founder of The Power to Navigate Life, Tony is one of Australia’s leading self-empowerment speakers, authors and coach on Mind-Body health.
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