Anyone can give advice on something. The default answer is always something like ‘read more’ or ‘run more’. All you have to do is ‘this’ and everything will magically happen. ‘It worked for me!’
I have been sharing my thoughts, my Notations on Life, over the last year. It’s hard for me to piece together everything that runs through my head and present it into a clear, focused message. I’m getting a little better at it as I write more, but it’s still a struggle. So I’m going to try something new and interview myself. This is not just advice, it’s tangible steps that work if applied.
*This is not a post about the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is temporary. Fulfillment and purpose should be pursued. Everyone’s level of contentment or fulfillment/purpose in life is different, so take from this what you want.*
I’m having trouble with my relationship/s. What can I do? — My wife and I have had our ups and downs like most relationships. It’s inevitable to butt heads when you live with someone and are around them all the time. The biggest problem with any relationship is unmet expectations. We are so self-centered, always asking ‘what’s in it for me?’. A husband comes home and expects supper to be on the table from a stay-at-home mother. A wife expects a little free time from the kids and for the husband to help out more. Family and friends expect you to conform to whatever their agenda may be. How much do you expect from everyone in your life? When we all can be of help to one another without having the subconscious thought of ‘what’s in it for me’ or ‘what will I get in return if I do this’, that’s when we make meaningful and lasting relationships.
I’m struggling to find purpose in my life. — That’s something only you can answer. Nobody can tell you how to find your purpose in life. I felt the same way not long ago. I know others do too. Go work a job that you don’t feel appreciated at, come home, eat dinner, piddle around the house, watch a show and go to bed. Do it again the next day and countdown to the weekend. I thought that having kids would fill the hole that I felt. It did in knowing that I had a purpose to raise and provide for my children, but I still felt the hole. There had to be more to living than work/bills/weekend. I wanted my kids to believe that they could do anything. How could I believe that but not live it? That’s when the seeking begins. When you feel that there must be something more out there. Not a magical Disney fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after, but one that you can put your hands on. One you can touch. Personally, I think there has to be some sort of spirituality involved as well.
So I know there’s something missing. What’s the next step? — Read and Run. It’s cliche advice, I know, but it works and here’s why. It’s two things that most people don’t want to do. Each requires sacrifice of time/energy. Reading expands the mind and ignites all the connections in the brain that lead to empathy and innovative ideas. Running positively impacts the entire body and forces you to get outside your comfort zone. I’ve said before that comfort zones need to be tested, improved upon, and retested constantly. Those are things that maximize potential for purpose in life, but are not the purpose. Only you can find that. The best advice I can give, and I know others have said from Marcus Aurelius to Casey Neistat, is this; create. Make something. Try something new. Maybe blacksmithing. Build an obstacle course. Restore a truck from the wheels up. Write a novel. Create content. It is creation, the act of putting something real into the world, that cultivates feelings of purpose. With each completed task, confidence builds as does the yearning to create more. The real thrill comes when you put that meaningful work into the world and others benefit from it.
I think I have an idea on my purpose. What now? — Now is the time to ask if it’s really worth it. Are you committed to it? You’d better be because it’s not easy. There isn’t a hack for it. It takes dedication and perseverance. It takes patience. If the answer is yes, then you know you’ve got something you can put your hands on.
It’s worth it. I’m ready, but I don’t think I have the time for all of that. — Look at the hours in each day. Without sacrificing sleep, how much is wasted on consuming other peoples’ content. From TV to social media, how many minutes add up that could have been spent doing something productive? Get rid of anything that is a distraction to your work. I gave up Clash of Clans on my phone when I decided to take my writing seriously. Remove all toxic things from your life. This may include social media, alcohol, friends, a job, even family. Don’t let these things control your joy or trajectory that you are wanting to take. Set up an environment that aligns with where you’re wanting to go and center it around growth. For the most part, look at what the majority of people are doing, then don’t do that. Look at your daily routine, then change it to benefit the life that you want to live. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish in a year.
I’m doing great now! Everything is clicking like clockwork. — Now give it back. Remember, it’s not about you.
I have health issues. I’m tired of suffering. — Take a pill for this and two more for that. It’s today’s answer for everything. Doctors Google whatever symptoms you have and write a script for anything from high blood pressure to diabetes. It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to live that way. Again, the question must be asked; is it worth it? There isn’t a hack for it. It takes sacrifice. It will take a multitude of things; changing your diet to one that includes more fruits and vegetables, quitting drinking/smoking, exercise, meditation, breathing practices that optimize O2 intake, even cold showers. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Strength and health equal freedom and happiness.
Below is a list of resources:
Here’s a piece I wrote about optimizing sleep.
My post on Fear and Change.
Here’s a great source of information that really ignited my inspiration to do more — Rich Roll’s best of 2014. In my opinion, he’s got the best podcast out there.
Tim Ferris’s new book, Tools of Titans, should be a staple to any library.
Steven Pressfield has written one of the greatest books of our time. I recommend it to everyone.
Jeff Goins is a great mentor when it comes to understanding and finding your calling in life.
Lastly, let us not forget to be grateful for everything we have. When you think about it, we’ve got it made. Let’s learn from each experience that comes our way and use it to gain knowledge and understanding. It is through our experiences that make us who we are.
I am in no way an expert on advice. I struggle with life, relationships, anxiety, fear, frustration, and vices like everyone else. I still work full time and am trying to create a life where I can write full time. This is just a collection of what I’ve learned so far and tangible steps that can be taken to increase fulfillment and purpose. I hope that it might help someone who struggles with any of the above mentioned. I will frequently reference back on this and update it as I go — I’m still learning on my pursuit of more.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius