Many of us in the West have very acceptable lives, if at times a little mundane.
We have partners who love us, a job that isn’t too onerous, enough money to live on, regular holidays to interesting places, cable TV, good food, ample wine and yet for some of us it isn’t enough.
We can’t overcome the feeling that things could be better, a sense that we’re missing out, a conviction that life could some how be more interesting and more fulfilling.
Contrast that to the undeveloped world, where access to clean water and enough food to feed your family is often a challenge, let alone disease and war, and you wonder why we feel the way we do.
I believe that for many of us, the system in which we live demands of us that we have a steady job that consumes most of our waking hours, that we own our own home, a flat screen TV, the latest electronic gadgets etc, etc. The end result is that we are so busy consuming that we don’t have time for spiritual reflection on life.
I’m not talking about religion, far from it, I’m talking about taking time to focus on stuff that feeds the soul rather than the body, stuff that truly makes us happy.
For many, I suspect, if you examine the things that truly make you happy, it won’t be stuff you can buy at the Apple store (or any other aspirational lifestyle shop) it will be something simple like the laughter of a child, dinner and conversation with friends, having someone who you love and loves you in return, someone with whom you can share your fears with, family, sunshine, birdsong, bluebells, the list goes on.
For sure, we all need to have enough money to feel safe and to live a modest life, but do we really need to buy in to the illusion that life would somehow be better if we tore down all we have and grasp for a media fuelled unrealistic vision of life.
Better to make small changes in our lives to feel more content with ourselves. My list would include
- Eliminate personal debt. Debt is usually incurred in acquiring stuff that you though would make life better, but miraculously, your life still feels empty, Debt is a bad thing.
- Get healthy. Losing weight is a simple process of eating a little less and exercising a little more. It isn’t a fad diet, and despite all of the marketing to the contrary it’s not a quick fix. Eat more fruit and vegetables, lean protein and go for a 20 minute walk at least three times a week. That’s all it takes and being healthier and looking better makes you feel good about yourself.
- Pay attention to your relationships. It’s all too easy when you’re feeling dissatisfied with your current life to overlook how your partner is affected by your negativity.
- Love your family and try to spend time with them. They will probably be your best means of support should times get tough and, hopefully, won’t judge too harshly.
- Never stop learning. We are a naturally curious species and to learn new things gives us a sense of achievement and fulfilment.
- Be honest with yourself. Admit your failings, but recognise and celebrate your strengths.
Life has taught me many lessons, the fact that the grass isn’t always greener is probably one of the most painful.
‘You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’ ~Buddha