Today I got an email from one of my tenants giving notice to terminate his contract. Nothing special about that, except that this forty year old man has been battling cancer for the last couple of years. Last month he was taken into hospital again but this time it was different, this time he was given the news that he was terminal. But inspite of this, he continued to pay his rent and say he was coming home. Until yesterday, finally given the news that he had two weeks to live, he has resigned himself to a peaceful ending. Sounds strange to be talking about this in the context of being happy right?
“It’s not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not” – Thich Nhat Han
It made me sad to think of this young man sitting in a hospital waiting for his life to end. However at the same time I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my own life. And in that instant I decided to just walk, go out into the fresh air, to smell the tree’s damp in the autumn climate, stand under the bright sun and soak it in and listen to the bird life right on my doorstep.
What’s the One Thing That Will Make You Happy in an Instant?
And in that instant I started to feel a little sorry for the people who can not see the miracle that is life, the privilege to be living and breathing. I felt sad for people who live in the darkness of their negative thinking. The one’s that chase more, more money, a bigger car, a bigger house, more, more stuff and all the while missing the essence of life. To be happy does not require any stuff, it requires a clear understanding that life is precious, this moment is precious and if we can just soak in the seriousness of this we are instantly happy.
It got me reflect on what maybe going through this young man’s mind right now, as he waits for his final hour. So I sat on the damp log in the middle of the local park, listened to the noises and tried to imagine what he may be going through right now. It takes great strength to come to terms with the ending, even though it is the one thing we are certain of. I took this video while I was sitting in the park, nature and peace through my eyes I guess. This is life.
And I made a promise to all those who are battling with illness, who lost their lives too soon and who are no longer with us:
I will live my life in respect for them, in respect for the moments they never got. I will live my life in honour of those that lost their lives too soon because that is the only way to live. When we do not take our life serious, when we do not love every moment we live, when we squander our life on meaningless things, we do not respect those who did not get the chance.
I apologise to those that find talking about death difficult but I guess for me it is vital to understand that death is what makes life so precious. To be happy we must savour every moment we are here to live.
Join the private group and share your thoughts – https://www.facebook.com/groups/freedominlaterlife/
Yes be proud of your mistakes, they made you who you are today. Can you accept that your mistakes are something to be proud of? It goes completely against everything we are taught as we are growing up. We do something wrong as a child and we are told off, then we get to school and punished for our mistakes.
Life is About Evolving
The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be – Oprah Winfrey
Without making mistakes we can not evolve. I remember when I was studying for my computer science degree, those endless hours spent trying to write computer code. The only way I could ever get the code to work was by making mistake after mistake, until finally it worked.
So why is it that we think we can get through life without making a mistake? And when we do why are we so hard on ourselves?
Surely we should be proud of our mistakes because ultimately what they lead to are our successes.
Life Begins Outside of Your Comfort Zone
The thing is in life we avoid making mistakes by sticking to the things we know. We live life on auto pilot, do things without really noticing and just go from day to day repeating the same thing. Because we think anything outside of our familiar world is somehow dangerous or risky.
But in reality to really taste life we have to come out of this comfort zone, we have to take risks and feel life at it’s core.
Does that somehow make you feel uncomfortable?
I speak to people all the time about getting out of their comfort zone, about pursuing their dreams because life is not going to last forever. This sometimes sparks a self protective reaction, like it’s a personal attack. It’s almost like they just don’t want to be pushed to see how they are limiting their life out of the fear of making a mistake. Unfortunately these people are usually the first ones to complain about life or to criticize people who don’t just settle.
Better an “Ooops” than a “What if”
So what exactly do we fear when we hold ourselves back, is it the actual mistake or something else? Personally I think we fear other peoples opinions of us. Our greatest fear is not being liked by others, not fitting in, not being part of the group and not belonging. After all we strive for a sense of belonging from childhood.
Perhaps we also want to be the good girl or boy, we grow up being told what is good and what is bad that by the time we reach adulthood it’s not questioned. We tow the line, behave as we are told and anything outside of that is deviant or worse criminal.
But really successful people don’t follow the rules, if they did they certainly wouldn’t have made it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a criminal or break laws, it just means learning to play the game, the game of life. And that requires a little risk taking, sometimes a lot, that depends on what you want out of your life.
Time is like a river. You can not touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life.
Living Life According to Others
Living your life according to what others expect will guarantee you fit in, that you are part of the group but over the years it can build up into deep resentment. If you never connect with your true desires, keep them bottled up and cover them up thinking they will pass, then one day you may look back on your life with regret.
Problem with regret is, it can become soul destroying.
If you fear making a mistake because you may disappoint someone, then perhaps you need to reassess your relationships. Real love means unconditional acceptance.If they love you they will want to see you happy. And they will be there for you even if it doesn’t work, even if you make a mistake.
Stop letting other people define you – Be yourself and Be Proud of It
Be Proud of You – Be Proud of Your Mistakes
I guess I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had a sense of self worth and self confidence that’s been difficult for anyone to break. Even after my marriage ended I didn’t lose sight of who I am, it’s a sense of self belief that I developed as a child and having to rely on myself for most things.
I’m proud of who I am, I’m not too worried if others like me or not because I enjoy, no I love being alone. And that’s why it is important to first be comfortable with who you are, comfortable with your own company and enjoy just being you. Then you live according to you.
My mistakes have been the most important teachings I’ve ever received. Don’t ever regret your mistakes but do make sure you learn from them.
It’s a real privilege to help people going through difficult and challenging times in their lives. I am humbled by the cancer patients I work with, they teach me the importance of living life now. However I see that even with such a life threatening disease they still don’t grasp the need to just live. In a recent session I asked the group “What are you waiting for?”
“I’m waiting for my children to grow up”
“I’m waiting to earn more”
“I’m waiting until ????”
What Are You Waiting For – When the Only Moment is Now?
Perhaps people have become so desensitised to the present moment that they can’t even recognise it? Perhaps we have become so accustomed to always doing, always looking forward or analyzing the past that we are never present in the moment?
Waiting for Permission
During our discussion it was evident that so many of us hold ourselves back, put things of and mostly ignore our own needs for others. We don’t want to upset others, we don’t want to let then down so we put others before ourselves. But surely self neglect is a serious matter? After all isn’t our main responsibility to make the most of this one precious life we have been given?
Society unfortunately has us believe that to look after ourselves we must be selfish. To put ourselves first is selfish but the that is the absolute opposite of the truth. We owe it to our loved ones to put ourselves first, so we are happy and healthy. Isn’t that what you would want for your loved ones, to be happy and healthy?
Or perhaps we are just good at making excuses to live a life less than amazing, maybe we’ve given up on the idea that life is more than what we experience it as?
I took the risk to ask the ladies at the cancer workshop if life would be better if we lived forever? Would we really be happier if we didn’t die? And all of them said no because the truth is that we do expire, it’s exactly knowing that life will end that should make us all realise the preciousness of life, every minute of it.
Next time you find yourself running into the past or the future, feeling a disconnect with life or looking for something better then try this:
STOP – BREATHE – SMELL THE AIR – AND JUST BE
Grasp that moment because the next breathe is a new moment which you never get back
In this video Sam Harris talks about living in the now as he says “we only have now and now and now”
The official definition of the word limit is “a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass”
Of course there are some limits in life, like we can’t fly or stay underwater for too long without suffocating. So I guess we could assume there are some physical limits. Note the word assume because that’s all we can do, nothing is ever a certainty.
The only limits are the ones you place on yourself.
Oh that lovely place we live in, the one we call the mind. It works 24/7 and busier than Heathrow Airport. It doesn’t stop telling us what we can and can not do. The more we allow this mind to rule our life, the less able we become to explore life to its fullest.
You have only one responsibility – Self Actualisation
Bruce Lee was one of the great philosophers of our time, he shared some important words of wisdom with us. He spoke of self actualisation and becoming the best person we can be. How often do we go through life not knowing why we are even here, what the point of our life is? Even though th answer is simple, self actualisation.
“Using No Way As Way, Having No Limitation as limitation” – Bruce Lee
Self Actualization means becoming the best we can be, pushing our limits, exploring the world and our place in it. And like it or not, unless we remove the limits we place on ourselves on our life, we will never venture into the places we fear.
Beware of Taking On Other Peoples Points of View
So here we are with this mind of ours full of thoughts, full of ideas of who we are, what we can and can not do. Then we pile into that already full up mind the ideas and opinions of others. Wow no wonder we go crazy!
Starting when we are children. The opinions of our parents of who we are. The good girl or boy, the pretty girl, the naughty boy, the artistic one, the talented one and who knows what else we have planted in our mind. Then we start school, here goes for a whole new view of the world. The academic one, the sports talented one but the worse one is “the average one”. Oh dear, who grew up being average? Yep I think I got that a few times.
Now as adults, we live in the confines of these limiting beliefs and then we add into it the “shoulds and should not’s”.
There’s no such thing as should or should not, it’s your life remember. Forget the “At your age you should be doing this or that” or even worse “A woman should ???????”
Is it time to delete, erase and permanently disregard everyone else’s opinions? Perhaps even time to ignore your own limiting beliefs and see what happens?
What happens when you have no limits?
A few things happen when you remove limitations:
Life starts to flow naturally
When you let go of control in your life, let it flow, then the people and things you want start to flow naturally. Believe me, it’s true.
When you learn to let go of limiting beliefs you begin to trust that life gives you exactly what you need, when you need it.
And finally, when you knock down all those limits, you start to experience life on a whole different level. That’s living, being present in your life and feeling every single minute of it!
The definition of selfish is “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure” Such a negative connotation, not many words hurt as much as being called selfish.
The most recent topic we’ve been discussing in my group practice has been self love, self compassion, taking care of our own needs, being our own best friend and being kind to ourselves. Often people will respond with reactions such as “It sounds so selfish”
How can looking after your own needs be selfish? Why is it that we have lost our connection with ourselves and become totally focused on fulfilling everyone else’s needs?
Selfishness is the very nature of our human existence, without our instinct to look after ourselves we would not have survived.
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “if we wish to be truly selfish, then we should be wisely selfish rather than foolishly selfish”
When is being Selfish Not A Good Thing?
When we commonly talk about selfish people it’s usually in a way that is hurtful. In other words their behaviour has hurt us or others. But I’d argue that this is more to do with them being deeply unconscious of their place in the world or in their relationships.They have no regard for others.
This is very different from being selfish, it is much more to do with self awareness or more like lack of self awareness and how it impacts on others.
Selfish in this sense is:
Ego Centered – Only looking to protect or satisfy one’s own ego
Self Protection – People who have been hurt and close themselves off to protect being hurt again
Skewed interpretation of Strength – yes usually people act in a selfish way because they think this makes them appear strong, when in fact it is exactly the opposite.
When is being Selfish A Good Thing?
So now we come to why being selfish is a necessity. Simply put because if you do not look after number one, you are neglecting the one reason you are living. Your life is precious, it’s priceless and you owe it to yourself to value it as such.
The difference is that being selfish does not mean you step over others, treat them badly or disrespect them for your own gain. Actually it’s the complete opposite; to really love yourself means you will go out of your way to do good for others because it makes you feel good. That is selfish compassion, it’s not the only reason you do something good but ultimately it is what makes us all be kind towards others.
Selfish in this sense is:
Looking after yourself because you want to be happy, being happy has a positive impact on those you love.
You love yourself because if you can’t love yourself how can you expect anyone else to?
You put yourself first because when you are meeting your own needs, you do not need others to meet them for you. This liberates both you and your loved ones. You release those close to you from obligation, feeling they have to do something. But when they do, it’s because of their own desire to make you happy.
We look after our own needs so we don’t become resentful. When we expect others to fulfill our needs and they fail to do that, we become resentful. Or if all we do is do things for others, sooner or later we will resent it.
It is ultimately your responsibility to be “consciously” selfish – To be a fulfilled and Happy Individual
I know that as adults we are supposed to be in charge, have all the answers and definitely know better than children, right?
However I think we are mistaken to think that children have nothing to teach us. If we stop, watch and listen maybe we can find a way back to what we already know.
How to Stay in the Present Moment
Children live in the present moment, they do not know past and future. I’m no child psychologist but I am a mother, grandmother, aunt and once was a teacher. As such I’ve watched many children growing up, they live in the now and they want what they want, now.
The problem is that we teach them that this is wrong, we instill fear for the future if they don’t behave in a certain way. It’s a sad day when you see a child lose that innocence and begin to contemplate what lies ahead, not with curiosity but with fear of failure.
Perhaps it’s time we looked at our children with an open mind, let them live without our fears and learn from them. After all they are correct, there is no other time than the present moment. The past and the future are just thinking, not real.
How to Make Friends and How to be a Friend
How many times do we hear children say “I don’t want to be her/his friends anymore, I don’t like them anymore”?
How many times do we watch children fight or argue and step in to tell them how to make up?
Of course as adults we can share our experience with a child who is having a problem with a friend. But why do we insist on telling children to cling on to friendships that may no longer serve them?
We find it uncomfortable to say the truth to others because it might hurt them. Children on the other hand lack diplomacy and usually just say it as it is. Who’s got it right here? I think perhaps it’s better to be honest with others, in the long run it’s far healthier.
What about arguments? We should never condone violence, it is our duty to teach children how to settle any argument in a peaceful way. But there is nothing wrong with children arguing, it’s life. Adults argue all the time, worse adults create wars and violence in the world. Perhaps we should be teaching our children how to have a good argument, without feeling bad about it and without the need to get angry, resentful and violent.
How to Love – Children Know What Adults Have Forgotten.
Watch a child in the presence of someone they feel safe with, someone that gives them love and attention. It’s the greatest lesson in love that we as adults will ever learn.
They trust, they give everything in return and they give love unconditionally. All they want is to feel safe and loved in return. They don’t judge you, they don’t look at your appearance, they just love you for who you are.
Children don’t try to change you, they are totally accepting and loving. Adults tend to go into a relationship then spend the rest of their lives trying to change their partner. Strange way to behave I’d say, don’t get me wrong I’ve been there and know it’s not healthy. Surely if your partner needs changing then they are not for you or you need to change your expectations.
So let’s watch our children more, let’s learn from them and maybe we can get back to loving life a bit more.
The other day someone told me they thought I had too much passion for life. I don’t understand what that means, how can anyone have too much passion for life? Perhaps what they really wanted to say is that at my age I shouldn’t have so much passion for life. That by now I should settle for a life of ordinariness because time has run out for anything more. Personally I think it’s never too late to live life to the full, no compromises and no holding back. Why should life be anything but amazing?
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist” – Oscar Wilde
If this is what having too much passion looks like, then I’m guilty:
Every second I live is a gift that I do not take for granted. It’s a privilege to be living this human life and I will not settle for ordinary.
Living in my comfort zone for too long is stagnation. I’d rather be uncomfortable for a while so I can experience life fully, than be comfortable forever and never really experience real life.
I am going to die one day that’s a certainty. And because I know this I will live my life to the fullest. It’s my one chance.
No fake timelines. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to live to society’s deadlines. Work like a slave all my life so I can enjoy life after I retire at 65, 66 or whatever it now is. I got ride of the retirement figure and added years to my life. I’m not looking forward to retirement, I’m looking forward to life.
I am building a life around the things I love doing. Look at all the people who spend their life doing what they love, do they retire? People like David Attenborough 89 and Dame Judi Dench 81 and countless others still “working” because it’s their passion.
You live longer when you love life because you look after yourself. You spend time doing the things that nourish you and less time doing things that deplete you. And you don’t fear getting old because that is just the consequence of living longer.
I will not apologise for having passion for life because it’s the only life I’ve got and everyday is a chance to start again, with fresh eyes and open curiosity.
Sometimes I struggle to understand why we take life for granted, how we can become so complacent and not appreciate this miracle of life that we have been given.
It might sound cliche or even soft but one thing I do know is that life is precious and the older I get the more I realise that I have already missed so much of my life.
This week two famous Brits died, leaving me feel even more aware of the fact that death is inevitable. If it can hit the likes of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, then there’s no hiding from death for any of us.
Perhaps then given that we don’t know when our lives will end, it’s time to accept the miracle of life and live every moment.
This video shows just how much of a miracle our own life is.
Just remember that you out of all the millions running to be created, you won!