The Key to Enjoying Life
Having the Patience to Wait for the Best Things
In our fast track, everything-needs-to-be-done-this-instant style lives, we've trained our minds to have to think and focus on one thing for a maximum of 3.2 seconds. We have microwave dinners, turbo jets, drive-throughs, high-speed rail subways, instant messaging, e-mails, automatic everythings, and even 'speed dating' and 'webinars', for pete's sake!
Perhaps, if we would take the time to stop our mad rush to Eternal Stressville for one moment, we may just see that the best things in life are not only free, but worth waiting for.
Think about some of life's most fantastic events...
- A baby takes 9 months to form in the womb.
- An oak tree can take up to two years to be full-grown.
- A pearl can take up to a few years to form.
- The Mona Lisa took four years to paint.
- A good book or film script sometimes takes decades to write.
- The Great Wall of China was rebuilt and maintained from the 5th century BC through to the 16th century!
Often, the best part of something wonderful is its anticipation! Even meeting someone and growing to like and love them takes time. Like John Leonard says, "It takes a long time to grow an old friend."
But patience is one of the hardest virtues to maintain. I'll admit that I personally have a difficult time waiting for people or events. My younger years were spent as a hyperactive and determined teenager and young adult. I was always busy going somewhere, even if in circles. That changed when I had an accident with my knee, and I was forced to sit in a wheelchair for almost a year. Spending time alone proved to sharpen my mind instead of dull or bore it, and I learned more about myself, my dreams, and what makes me happy in that year than in the ten before that! I can truly say that I am thankful to have gone through that waiting period.
Slowing down and taking a deep breath is the first step towards learning to enjoy your gift of life.
How Do I Learn to Enjoy Life?
No one can really write a manual on 'how to enjoy life'. Enjoyment varies from person to person. Only you can decide what makes you happy. Finding that key is what I want to help you with.
If you don't like what you're doing, stop it. Don't give yourself or anyone else excuses as to why you must continue on the path of self-destruction. Sit back, stop for a second, and just take a look at your life and your journey. "Where have I come from?" , "What am I doing?", and "Where am I going?" are good questions to start with. Note the highs and lows of this journey in your mind.
Once you've done a mini-evaluation of your life, it should be easier for you to see what is more important to you personally. The importance you place on issues and situations, or even on emotions, largely determines your path in life. The 'highs' represent your happiest states, and the 'lows' obviously represent the opposite states.
Now, you can start to understand what makes you happy and how you find enjoyment. If you can't seem to pinpoint what makes you truly happy, start with naming something that makes you unhappy? Could it be something like, 'being in debt', perhaps? Then, now think of the opposite of that: 'being debt-free'! So, now you know that staying out of debt makes you happy, correct?
Spend the majority of your time doing those things that make you happy, and if you must do some things that don't (as we know we all have to do sometimes!), picture your end goal in mind. Does it correspond with your unhappy task? If the end goal of that task does not help to further your journey of happiness, then switch your tasks. Just because the dreaded task brings in money or helps somebody else, does not mean that it is the only choice available. You would be surprised to find out how many options you have!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Holstee Manifesto:
(You can also find the Holstee Manifesto here: http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about)
How do you feel now? Do you think that you are still in the right job? The right relationship? The right frame of mind?
The great thing about being happy and content with where you are is that you then become the richest person on earth. You realize that money does not actually measure wealth. The riches of life are found in the little things that make us happy.
If we could place more importance on the things of life that cause us to smile, instead of dwelling on everything that goes wrong, imagine what happy people we could all be! Sometimes we can put so many requirements on our happiness. We say to ourselves, "If only I had the perfect house, AND the perfect spouse, AND intelligent and disciplined children, AND a well-paying job, AND a considerate and generous boss, AND dependable friends, AND, AND, AND...THEN I would be happy..." And then when it comes to the things that make us unhappy, they can be so small and trifle. We say, "If someone snaps at me, OR if I can't find my keys, OR if my phone battery runs out, OR if I'm stuck in traffic, THAT'S IT! I'll be angry immediately!" But the trick to remaining in "The Happy Zone" is to reverse that thought process. Let's pave ourselves short roads to happiness, and make it almost impossible to ever reach a point of despair!
As I was thinking of finding happiness in the little things, this fitting story came to mind:
The Mexican Fisherman
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "only a little while."
The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15 - 20 years."
"But what then?" Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"
"Millions - then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
So, Pop a Chill Pill
The fact is that life will go on without you. The way I see it is that you can either continue to frantically run alongside with the rest of the rat race, OR you can get in the driver seat of your life, turn off your hell-bent cruise control, and learn to apply the brakes once in awhile - or even take the scenic route.
In essence, the key to enjoying life is different for each person, and it's found inside of you.
Learning to relax and enjoy life is easier said than done, I know. But every journey starts someplace. I hope I have helped you to find that starting point.