"What's the photo of?" you might ask.
I typed “paradise” into Unsplash, and this spoke to me.
It’s an unnamed road in Laos that Simon took this magnificent shot of.
I’ve been lucky enough to go on a motorcycle adventure through Laos, experiencing a world so different from home. Throughout the country, scenery as gorgeous as this exists.
The thing is, I’ll eventually tire of this photo and want to replace it with maybe a beach scene, or mountain ranges.
The same principle can be applied to the apartment I’m currently living in. It’s a nice place in a fantastic location with great views that many would love to call home.
But just like those squeaky new pair of shoes, that brand spanking new car, accompanied by the fresh scent that comes with all things new - the novelty slowly but surely fades and before you know it, you’re searching for that next thing that tickles your fancy.
What’s wrong with what you’ve got? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Others want what you have and can’t for whatever circumstance. But for you, it’s become your new normal, and it’s no longer good enough.
Like many, this was me.
I’d obsess about something - a car for example. Read all the reviews, watch all the YouTube videos, join forums, test drive the car until the day came I finally owned it.
I was stoked.
Whilst it wasn’t my dream car, it’s the next stepping stone on my list (my dream car not being one in particular, but multiple I’d love to own 🙄).
And for a few, maybe six months, it was fabulous, and then sure enough I soon found myself looking for the next one I wanted.
A lot of you will say, “You should be grateful for what you have. I could only dream of owning the car I want because (enter reason here).”
Life isn’t fair and we all don’t have the same opportunities. I realise that, but it’s only human to want more.
And there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. It’s what motivates us to succeed in whatever we do so we can spoil ourselves once in a while, be it a nice meal or a new aircraft. To make our efforts worthwhile.
But don’t let your desire to take the next step up the ladder of success hinder your realisation and contentment with what you already have, otherwise you’ll never be happy in life.
Be grateful for what you’ve got because it’s a lot more than many others in this world less fortunate than you.
I remember seeing the documentary, “Happy,” which included a man from India, Manoj Singh, living with his family in conditions we in the first world consider poverty.
Yet, he is the happiest guy you would meet. A smile with missing teeth, beaming from ear to ear.
Hear his story:
The Clock is Ticking...
Nothing is permanent. We only have a certain amount of time in this life and never know when it’s up.
Don’t wait for “retirement” to enjoy it. Enjoy it right now.
Who like me is all about getting to the destination on a road trip?
Someone needs to take a toilet break and you’re like, “Can you hold it another hour?”
“Enjoy the journey as much as the destination” - Marshall Sylver
And that doesn’t just apply to what you own.
Your relationships, your working life, your un-sagging body.
Because life goes on. People move away, get married, have children, fall ill. Kids grow up.
And life is never certain.
The earlier in life you realise this, the more you will do to get the most out of it.
To squeeze every last bit, so you’re not at the end wishing you had done all these things, but instead reliving your experiences through fond memories, as well as thinking what a fuckwit you were and if you were to do it again, you’d do it so much better.
But it’s never too late. You’re aware of it. Make the most of everything right now and ride this train into the sunset like there’s no tomorrow.
The Power of Now - If you’re unfamiliar with this book, it is most certainly worth a read.
Eckhart Tolle is a German-born spiritual teacher and practitioner.
How many of you get caught up with thoughts in your head - of the past, of the future?
Or distract yourself constantly - with your device, listening to music, playing video games, watching television?
There are two intersections in Sydney with red circular lights on the ground to prevent pedestrians from stepping onto the road into live traffic.
Why the fuck are we paying for these morons who aren’t paying attention in the middle of a busy city?
And by the way, I’ll warn you now, if you’re going to be so rude as to walk towards me with your head in your phone, not looking where you’re going, I’m not moving out of the way for you.
You’re effectively telling the world, “I’m more important than you,” and I disagree.
Here’s some insight into how I operate.
I divide the footpath into thirds. I will (in most cases) stick to the left third to give room for two people walking in the opposite direction. So, for our international readers, and those with their heads in their phones, when uʍop ɹǝpun, stick to the left. It works when everyone does. 😉
When was the last time you recall being present? Living in the moment?
“Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.”
There’s no point always living inside your head.
The past is the past and the future ain’t here yet so why worry about it?
It’s easy to lose sight of that - I still find myself inside my head, fabricating stupid stories when something I expect doesn’t happen or beating myself up when I fucked up.
“There are two levels to your pain: the pain that you create now, and the pain from the past that still lives on in your mind and body. Ceasing to create pain in the present and dissolving past pain - this is what I want to talk about now.”
“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
The Growth Mindset has summarised the book beautifully through words and animations:
Now, the book does go off into deeper concepts that not everyone agrees with. So, take what is good from the book, and apply it to your life.
Steps You Can Take
I won’t address issues like depression and PTSD.
We all experience life differently, and I can only base these measures on my experience of it.
Professionals exist who can and are willing to help those of you in need.
Assess your circle of influence
“You are the average of the 5 people you most spend time with” - Jim Rohn
Let me ask you a few questions:
Does your circle of influence hold you back from starting something, an idea you have - maybe they call you stupid for thinking of starting a business or wanting to try something you know yourself will help you grow?
Do they conduct themselves in ways you are uncomfortable with - maybe doing immoral or illegal activities and egg you on to do so yourself?
Are they positive individuals who have dreams and aspirations, talk about long term goals and what they want to achieve, or do they live a miserable day-to-day existence, hating their job and living for the weekend (when they can get fucked up)?
Are they materialistic, superficial; who only care about brand labels, their appearance - living paycheck to paycheck and have an outstanding, accumulating credit card bill to match?
Do you look up to any of them because they possess qualities you admire?
Comparing each one, are you the smartest of them all?
One of my early posts which didn’t make the blog was on tall poppy syndrome - a part of our Aussie culture.
Your circle of influence - including your spouse/significant other or work colleagues - may judge you harshly or negatively for your achievements or having aspirations.
Do not let them stop you. They’re holding you back because they don’t have the courage or drive to become better versions of themselves.
Don’t listen to the haters. They’re negative because they’re living a miserable existence.
Believe in yourself - always.
If you’re in your teens or early twenties, you may not have ever thought about the people around you this way. You may think you’ll be friends for life with the circle you grew up with. But, as the years go by, friends will come and go.
Everyone is looking out for #1 - themselves, and you should too.
You need to be critical about your influencers.
Listen to your intuition, that voice inside you - your gut feeling, that tells you or gives you a notion about something or someone. It’s almost always right. Develop and let it guide you through life.
It’s not easy to let someone go, especially when you’ve developed a bond over years, but you don’t want to waste time or worse, live your life in regret, especially when you know at the time something ain’t right.
It doesn’t have to be “see you later” and they’re out of your life.
Slowly pull yourself back, become less available, and eventually, it’ll become the new normal.
You don’t have to eliminate them from your life completely. You can still be mates - catch up every now and then, but you want to surround yourself with people who will help you grow to become the best version of yourself.
All of this sounds harsh, but it’s the honest truth, and if you don’t do this, one day it may be your best mate who does it to you and you’ll be left behind.
So how do you find new friends?
That’s a tough one and doesn’t come easy - more so if you’re introverted. Your town or city may be cliquey which makes things more difficult.
Find an activity you enjoy or always wanted to try. Maybe it’s a sport or a hobby like dancing or a course you want to enrol in.
Why not give back to the world and volunteer?
Do it for yourself first - because you want to do it, not because it’s a way to meet people.
One of the best places to start - Meetup.com
Stop comparing yourself to others
There’s always someone doing better than you - it’s a fact of life.
Social media is one of the worst things for your self-esteem because most people only show the good things in life - not their daily grind.
We all go through it, especially the most successful people - those who can say “I did it my way”.
It’s not sexy or glamorous but done correctly, hard work pays off.
Like starting anything new - a new job or business, a side project, diet and exercise regime - you’re going to encounter challenges.
These challenges exist mostly within yourself - test your motivation to persist; to keep going no matter how difficult.
If I can start a blog - with no background in writing, having no knowledge of building a website, nor the intricacies involved to grow it for this message to reach you, all whilst working a full-time job, what’s stopping you?
There’s a post with a message that resonates with me - that I’ve lived by since starting this venture. I’ve referenced it multiple times throughout this blog.
Some people stick motivational notes on their wall, pictures of their dream job, house, or car.
I read this post.
The score is always 0 - 0.
Find and do what works to motivate you every day.
Practice being present
Try starting the day with meditation. It’s not some hippy shit - it works for many people, especially those who have a lot going on in their head. It helps quiet the mind.
Take a walk without listening to music or a podcast.
If you commute on public transport, try not using your phone and instead observe and listen to the sights and sounds around you. You may find you’re the only one not staring at a screen as I’ve discovered in the past.
Limit your screen time, especially playing video games. You don’t have to give it up completely, but ask yourself - how will this benefit me in the long run?
Unless you’re destined for a career playing video games, they’re meant for entertainment. Most of you won’t sit at a pub for hours every day achieving nothing.
It may be enjoyable at that moment, but all you’re doing is procrastinating and stopping yourself from being productive.
Just as it’s difficult to feel sad when you’re smiling (try it 😉), practicing gratitude will help you feel better about yourself.
Ciara has outlined forty ways to practice gratitude in her post.
Find simple pleasures
Find other sources for happiness that don’t require your wallet.
Instead of catching up with a friend over lunch, why not go for a walk by the beach or park?
Exercise! Sometimes you just don’t want to, but you’ll feel good afterwards because of the endorphin release in your brain. Plus, it’s good for your overall health.
And don’t wait for the weekend to spoil yourself. Allow time during the week to take a break from the grind. That’s where volunteering or having a hobby can help.
If you are going to spend money on yourself, consider experiences over material items.
When you look back, you’re not going to remember and appreciate those expensive pair of shoes as much as that awesome road trip or overseas adventure you had.
At the end of the day, we’re all looking for the same thing in life.
“Once you learn to create your own happiness, no one can take it from you” - Robert Tew
Make a conscious effort to put yourself on the right path in life.
Doing so will lead you to a healthier and more productive one - a life where you look forward to each day, every day.