On Redefining the Metrics

A while back, I gave up living life the only way I knew how.

The way I knew served me, then it served me painfully, then it didn’t serve me at all. Only through my desert period — the wandering in the wilderness — have I come to know a new journey.

I love the second question — ‘what do you do?’ — because it gives me an opportunity to reposition the framework of what matters in my life. The details of the answer to this in regards to my work life are long & boring to most people asking this question for the standard evaluation of societal norms — respect, use, interest.

I do whatever, really. I write, I do communications contract work, I write some more, I work in my basement for a remote call center (not sure if I can say where, but the company shares its name with a rainforest in South America that we’re damaging and destroying at an incredible rate for purposes of greed, indulgence & ignorance, but I digress).

I recently attended a conference and a new friend asked a loving & inquisitive better version of this, asking ‘how do you spend your days?’ to which I responded ‘slowly & quietly.’ I love this as a guiding theme along my walk.

As I went through a process of evaluation, inventory & reflection in my life, I came to the realization that chasing the metrics that society today identifies as vital to one’s ‘successfulness’ & ‘happiness’ leads, for me, only to futility, pain & suffering.

I remember one time my grandma saying that money doesn’t make one happy, and at the time I remember thinking, well that’s great to say if you have it. And now I’ve had it, seen it, known it & felt it deeply.

What good does money do if you don’t have space in your life to live? What good does it do if you only use it to serve yourself? What do I do if I have everything I thought I needed and it’s still not enough?

At a certain point, I realized that ‘there’s never enough of what I thought I needed’ and ‘never enough of something that almost works.’

So, I changed the metrics. I still have a list that I wrote where I explored what I wanted my ‘ideal days’ to look like. This list redefined the metrics of what I wanted in life, my idea of success. They included things like a slow, leisurely pace, space & energy for reading, writing & spiritual growth, more nights spent sleeping outside, chasing sunrises & sunset, availability to serve others, energy to be able to connect & selfless, the ability to work from wherever & whenever I choose and on and on.

What matters to me is no longer the money, the status, the appearance — as the things of this world I chased and chased ultimately proved to be unfulfilling.

So, what do I do? How do I live? It’s a whole lot of stuff like this…and if any of this interests you, I’d love to talk with you more about how we live life.

  1. Live simply. My days are quiet & my burdens light. I’ve minimized all my expenses, and my leisure activities essentially cost me nothing (aside from initial investment in gear, gas & some super low-cost foods). I hike, I fish, I camp, I serve, I connect, I read, I nap, I sit, I write…gone are the days of going out to eat or bars or ‘buying stuff crap I didn’t need that I couldn’t afford to impress people I didn’t like.’
  2. Live quietly. Let me confess first off, noise really bothers me. So today I seek places & space for quiet & inner reflection. We live in a noisy, chaotic, fear-focused world. I choose to not live that way and participate in that way of thinking these days. I don’t thrive in places with large crowds, shiny distractions & over stimulation. I’m the guy with a book & headphones, plenty contented retreating into a story I’m reading or writing. I can sit by a lake for hours in a hammock or write in a library with headphones playing Calm (what? you don’t listen to www.calm.com? yet)
  3. Appreciation for the little things. When I almost died (a longer story for another day) my world flipped & everything that mattered shifted. Today, I appreciate the little things like watching wildlife (I am literally 15 feet from a deer as I write this), listening to creeks trickly by, talking to dragon-flies & butterflies…essentially, I try to practice being present wherever I am & whatever I’m doing. I chase sunrises & sunsets while reflecting on purpose & my ability to impact & serve others. I’m always looking to grow & become better at how I live.
  4. I try to walk with an open heart. I follow the urgings & directions that are deep within. By clearing myself of the noise, both internal & in the world, I’m more connected today than ever before to divine guidance in my life. I’m aligned, I follow, I listen and try to be a faithful servant to man & God. And through that, I’ve found a peace unlike any other, a contentment & usefulness unlike I’ve ever experienced. I’ve connected deeply with so many people over the past couple of years, my heart is full and I simply try to overflow into those I meet & spread hope & joy with others.
  5. A dedicated focus on my heart posture. I use to waste a lot of time & energy on things that I had no control over, things that just brought me angst & unease. Today, the focus on my life is how I walk, think & act. I’ve found there is no concern that cannot be solved through quiet, humble, spiritual development & focusing on the inside work.

When people want to talk about work, I can do that too. I try to do it with a heart posture of love and in a manner that’s supportive, encouraging and attempts to be provocative & incite inner questioning & reflection.

People are always commenting on how I get to spend my days, to which I always respond that we all get to choose how we live our days. I underwent a painful, intense process to become who & where I am today, the details of which I don’t recommend, but for me it worked.

My life changed. So can yours. We all have the same number of hours in a day, it’s just a matter of how we choose to spend them.

Are you fulfilled by how you spend yours?

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be
– Lao Tzu
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
– Matthew 10:39
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
– Mark 8:36
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