Imagine you are approaching the end of your life and the first thought that pops into your mind is, “Hell yeah, I did that shit right! I lived, I loved, I forgave and I failed so many times that I grew into an amazing person.”
This is a resolution I made with myself a few years ago.
Many of us make resolutions to lose weight, change jobs, find our soul mate, blah, blah, blah. All of those are short term goals with the pursuit of happiness as the end goal. But it never comes because we’re never truly content with ourselves as we are. To live well is to have the end game in mind knowing that by living fully in this moment, you are psychologically and biologically setting yourself up for success.
I imagine my future self reflecting on life from this perspective:
“I made a conscious choice to enjoy each moment, even when life presented challenges I was able to find inner stillness. I wasn’t scared to take risks and fail because I knew the experience would grow me as a person. I chose to be patient, kind, loving, respectful, understanding, adventurous, spontaneous, open-minded, super-crazy sensual, and full of life. I didn’t fall victim to circumstance because I was fully aware I was the creator of my reality. I chose to constantly rework my limiting beliefs and call bullshit on my invalidating stories and sabotaging habits. I didn’t let my old self-concept of worthiness stand in the way of using my voice in service of the voiceless. I caused a ruckus. I helped open hearts. I rocked that shit!”
The biggest complaint I hear from people facing their own mortality is their regret for the things they didn’t do when they could. The few truly happy departing souls I’ve encountered who had a “hell yes” attitude threw caution to the wind, followed their dreams, chased aliveness, laughed often and gave back to others. I watched them let go with a smile on their face and trust in their heart that they did everything they could, even if it took 50 years to begin their journey towards wholeness.
Every day I make choices that ensure my 85 year old self will be neurologically wired for true happiness. Her perspectives are optimistic, her thoughts are loving, her actions are kind, her heart is giving, and she isn’t holding onto resentment, regret, or old hurts. All of this starts with the small steps I take today, and each day to come.
This isn’t about having everything in place right now to be happy. I don’t need everything perfect before I can enjoy life. I don’t need to wait until I retire to travel. It’s about making the most of today, whether that means reading a great book by the water, working on a creative project, or going on a wild and crazy exploration, it’s all relative.
The major shift in adopting this perspective was that I slowed down. Life isn’t a race. I’m not busting my ass to achieve something one year from now because that’s what I think will make me happy. I’m it for the long haul. I threw my metaphorical rock of success 50 years into the future. I will ensure everyday is lived so my 85 year old can have a truly happy heart and know she doesn’t have to fear death because she’s lived so damn well… by design and with intention.
On days when I feel down or in a funk, I realize it’s simply old programming rising to the surface from my subconscious mind so I can see it more clearly. I don’t run from it or get down on myself because I’m not feeling positive. I allow it to be okay as it is without self-identifying with it because without my labeling it as good or bad, it’s just sensation. When I still can’t seem to get out of my own damn way, I pretend I can look through the eyes of my 85 year old self and almost instantly I hear her say, “My love, just let that shit go. You’re doing great. Keep following your heart and everything else will follow. Be that which you desire to become- now. No need to wait until you’re me sweetie.”
Some additional tips:
- Find your people and love them hard. Not everyone is going to understand or like your unique brand of crazy and that’s fine.
- Meditate EVERYDAY. Just do it. Your brain and your body are not disconnected and everything you want already lies within your reach. Learn to hack your brain, clear out the stuff that brings you down and your life will change. (For more information about the science of meditation, check out my article “Your Brain on Meditation”)
- Choose curiosity over judgement. Our brains are loaded with cognitive biases and filters that keep us disconnected from another persons reality. Humble yourself and step into the other persons world and just notice. You might actually learn something about yourself — which is why we’re here in the first place.
- Be good people. Don’t step on others or put them down because they don’t abide by your manmade rule book. Take time each day to lift up another person and celebrate their successes. We all need cheerleaders. (If you want to be an effective leader and role model for others, read my article, “Authentic Role Modeling”)
- Do anything and everything you can that makes your heart smile. This is the portal to your soul. If your heart is happy you’re probably rocking life. If your heart if closed off, you’re probably missing out on some very critical cues for which direction to go in.
- Lean into your edges, take those monumental leaps, fly, fail, and repeat. THIS IS HOW YOU GROW.
- Forgive easily, but remember the lessons learned. Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison hoping it kills the other person (Thanks Malachy McCourt for this analogy!)
I didn’t fall in love with life, which is often based on circumstances and is wavering. I fell in love with the fact that life even exist and I get to co-create with it. Viva la vida!