How I went from just living a life to creating my own life… (3/30)
A while ago someone asked me if one of my books was available as PDF. He wanted to read it on his tablet. I realized I didn’t offer it as PDF. Stupid me!
He told me he’s currently on a sabbatical, traveling the world and thinking about what he could do next in life.
He said he was trying to think about what work he could do so that when he wakes up every single morning he would feel energized.
He was trying to figure out what would make him smile every single morning.
But he couldn’t figure it out. There are just way too many things going through his head. Too many things to think about. To worry about. And not enough time. Never enough time! Arghhh!
Look. I think that’s a problem many people have. A problem that I had myself for a long time, too. And I strongly believe that the only way to solve this riddle, to solve your riddle is to stop thinking.
Constantly thinking about things won’t do anything. You will never find a solution just by thinking about it. Especially when it comes to something complex like finding your passion. Finding your calling. Or finding something you might enjoy doing. Something that makes you smile when you get up every single morning.
The simple truth is this…
You don’t know what you enjoy doing, what your calling or your passion is, what you should be doing, simply because you stopped trying. You stopped experimenting. You stopped searching. And most importantly you stopped doing.
Some time in our early twenties or maybe even earlier we stop experimenting. Because everybody tells us we need to know what we want to do with our lives. You have to be something. Or someone.
But the truth is that no one is able to know what to do for their rest of their lives at that age. At any age.
Now in my thirties, I start to realize that you will never really know what you’d want to do for the rest of your life. Simply because the rest of your life is a hell lot of time. And you know what? That’s totally fine.
What’s not so fine though is the fact that we were and are being pushed into a system, into a way of thinking that kills pretty much everything that defines most of us. It kills the explorer. The hunter. The gatherer.
A system that wants us to choose what we want to do for the rest of our lives. When our lives have barely even started yet. It’s just impossible.
So instead of continuing to explore, we settle. We settle for the things society and people expect from us. And then somewhere along the way some of us, not necessarily all of us, get stuck.
And some of us just don’t know what they’d love to do so they’d be able wake up in the morning with a smile on their faces. Some of us need more time to explore. Not more time to think. But more time to do.
And I think that’s the only way out. You need to give yourself some time. Some time to try out things. To test new things. To figure out what you enjoy doing. And getting away from all the thinking.
Too much thinking never solves anything. Only doing does. And thinking every once in a while about what you’re currently doing, what you might have done wrong and what you could do to improve what you’re doing might also help.
Look. You can think about things for years and years and years. But if you never do anything, then you’ll still be stuck at the exact same spot you’ve already been many years ago.
And the one thing that’s responsible for all the thinking, for all the fear based decision making, for making all the decisions that ultimately hold us back from doing, from experimenting and experiencing life is the so called lizard brain. That part of the brain that’s responsible for our survival instinct. It’s been there for tens of thousands of years. Maybe even more. I’m no expert. But today, we call it the amygdala.
Even though we gave it a new name, it’s still pretty much useless these days and only holds us back from living the life we truly want to live. The life we deserve to live. To tap into our strengths and to unleash our potential.
The lizard brain has basically been responsible for our survival for the past tens of thousands of years. It’s an instinct guided part of the brain that starts to kick in whenever we are in a potentially dangerous or life threatening situation.
And back in the days when we were still cavemen and cavewomen pretty much everything was life threatening with all the wild animals out there. So we really needed it. But today, not so much anymore. Back in the days we needed it because whenever there was the tiniest bit of uncertainty about what that sound back there in those bushes could have been, it pushed us to run away. After all, that sound could have been a tiger.
But today, most situations aren’t so life threatening anymore. But it still operates like this. And to increase its chances of survival that lizard brain still wants us to avoid every situation that’s even just a tiny little bit filled with uncertainty. It feeds on certainty. And craves safety. And that’s why we’re always shooting for the safe thing. Because the lizard brain is playing its trick on us. It wants to survive. It wants us to think about the negative part of everything. To protect itself.
And the only way I’ve been able to tame my lizard brain was by performing what I like to call „the grandpa test“. It has helped me over and over again to get the lizard brain to shut up and get going. It has helped me to stay focused on my end goal. Over and over again.
And the first time I used it was when I decided to go to China, instead of looking for a job like all my fellow classmates did back in 2009. It didn’t make a lot of sense and I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision. Some part of me said I should be reasonable and look for a job. It was probably the lizard brain trying to protect itself.
I don’t know how I came up with the grandpa test back then. I certainly did not read about it in a book. Simply because I read less than 10 books in total back in my first 27 years of living on this planet. So it must have been something else. Anyways.
So here’s how the grandpa test goes…
In every situation I find myself in and am in doubt about whether or not I should do something, I imagine my 80 year old self sitting on my veranda (or the street corner, who knows?) reflecting about my life. About all of the things I’ve done. And all of the things I didn’t do. And if the thing I’m currently not sure about doing is something where my future 80 year old self might ask himself “How would my life have looked like if I did it? Would it be any different?“, I just do it.
Simply because I don’t want to look back on a life full of regrets. A life where I didn’t do many potentially life changing things, just because I couldn’t get that damn lizard brain to shut up.
Look. I don’t know if this is a good way of living life. I don’t know if it will work for you. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But it worked for me. Over and over again. And that’s really all I do to get going. Over and over again. That’s all I do tame and fight my lizard brain. To do the things I’m scared of doing.
And that’s what got me to China and ultimately to where I am right now.
That’s how I went from just living a life to creating my own life…
P.S. Did you know that I’m writing a new book? This post is a part of it. You can now pre-order the entire book so you won’t miss a thing. To conveniently read it on your e-reader, your tablet or your phone. It’s pay-as-much-as-you-want right now. Learn more and get access here…