If you are of a certain age, you might remember the occasional interruption we used to have when watching television. Unexpectedly, the show would stop, the screen would go blank, and then you would see and hear these words, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. If this […]
In life, you’ll find that others think that they know what is best for you. You might hear, “You should socialize more.” Or someone might tell you, “You should be more ambitious.” Or people might advise you to get married or have kids. Folks love to tell other folks what they should be doing with their lives.
I’d like to say that I have never told other people what they should do, but nothing could be further from the truth! From time to time, I have given my opinion on how other people should live their lives. But the older I get, the more I realize that what might be a good lifestyle for me is not necessarily a good lifestyle for everyone.
Frankly, once you become an adult, there are only two things you should do in life. You should be financially self-sufficient. Specifically, barring some sort of physical or mental disability, you should work and be able to provide food, clothing and shelter for yourself and your family. And you should be nice to other people – all the time. Outside of those two limited requirements for living, you pretty much can structure your life in any way that you would like.
The challenge for most of us is that we have to fight the outside voices. Those voices are the ones that might come from our friends, family or spouse. They typically are the folks who like to tell us what they think we should be doing with our lives and our time.
For example, I used to know someone who constantly told me that I needed to be more “adventurous.” (I don’t recall asking this person’s opinion, but they offered it up anyway.) Truth be told, I’m not an adventurous person by nature. I like to travel, but you won’t find me scaling mountains, hitchhiking or bungee jumping. Those activities do nothing for me. Nevertheless, for many years, I tried to be more adventurous. And it wasn’t fun. It was just draining.
These days, I only do the things that I enjoy. I’m not interested in what people think that I should be doing. I am interested in creating a life that make me happy. So, if others care to join me in visiting museums and going out to elegant dinners, great! If not, that’s just fine with me.
The key to creating the “right” life for you is to shut out the noise. Ignore the people who tell you what you should be doing, or who tell you what type of person you should be. Ultimately, you only will be happy when you decide to be your authentic self and do those things that you enjoy.
That is a tall order for many of us. Especially if you don’t fit in with society’s ideas about success. For instance, we live in a world that worships extroverts. So, if you are a quiet person who needs alone time, you will subject to scrutiny. There are people who will tell you that you should be more “outgoing.” Or they may say that you need to make more friends or go out more.
The problem is that having a big social life may not make you happy. So, you have to make a choice: Do you want to be happy? Or, do you want to do what other people think you should be doing?
Or, you may be a person who prefers to read books and live in a small, simple house. In a world which values money, big houses and luxury cars, you will be a black sheep. It takes confidence to live a simple life and not feel inferior because you don’t possess the traditional symbols of success.
So, creating the right life for you requires ignoring other people and listening to yourself. If you are seeking to create the right life for you, ask yourself the following questions: If I had a free day to do whatever I wanted, what would I do? If I could have my dream job, what would that be? What would my dream house, car and wardrobe look like? If I could travel anywhere in the world, where would I go and what would I do when I got there?
Your answers should reflect your authentic self. They shouldn’t reflect what other people think is a good idea. You aren’t trying to impress anyone. Spending your life trying to impress other people, whether it be your friends, family members or even your spouse, is a quick way to waste your life. You need to figure out what makes you happy.
It takes courage to be able to be your authentic self. But let me let you in on a little secret: What makes you different is what make you interesting. So, if you really enjoy knitting tiny sweaters for your cats, do it! That is interesting. Hanging out at bars and pretending you are awesome is not interesting. It is what 90% of single people do. Being average is not interesting.
So, be brave, be your authentic self, and do what makes you happy. Live a life that suits your personality – not someone else’s. And if your friends, family or spouse have a problem with that … well, then they are selfish. They aren’t interested in your happiness, only their own.
This week, think about small changes that you can make to your life that will make you happy. Do some soul searching. Consider what you can do to create the right life for you.
(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)
Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey (https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Success-Working-Mother/dp/1546329544 )