Don’t take yourself or events around you too seriously. Laugh with life. A sense of humour is the path to joyful living.
We are all so busy and put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve success. We are told as children that we must do our best, that the world is a competitive place, we have to work hard to be the best, to stand out in the crowd. We carry this belief system within us and we try to be the person we think the rest of the world wants us to be turning ourselves inside out and upside down to please others. We set the bar high.
Society has taught us what success should look like – we should find a job that pays well and continue to rise up through the ranks, buy a house with a yard and garage, be married with children by a certain age, have 2 cars, a big screen TV, a smart phone and all the latest technology, a holiday overseas every year. The house should be clean and tidy, home cooked meals on the table, the children should be well rounded. The list goes on an on. If we haven’t achieved all of these things by our deadline, then we brand ourselves as failures. We feel unfulfilled, depressed and our sense of self worth suffers.
As a counsellor I hear people all the time say they have failed in one way or another, sometimes in every area of their lives and as a person on the whole. I see the depression and sense of hopelessness. I watch people putting so much pressure on themselves to reach that bar that is so high up and punishing themselves when they just haven’t been able to no matter how hard they have tried.
So what is success anyway? is there only 1 formula and if we can’t make that happen then we have failed? Is that really true? I don’t believe this for a minute. There are many paths to success and there are many different kinds of achievements that are just as valuable, if not more so, than those proclaimed in our society.
There is not one of us alive that hasn’t achieved a multitude of successes throughout our lives. Yet we often discount them. We are not being fair to ourselves. We are not all the same and we are not all here to achieve the same goals. Each of us has our own unique path and we should be finding and following this rather than trying to be like everyone else and compete with others ideals. We were not meant to be the Jone’s next door or we would have been born in their shoes. We are individuals so lets start living our lives for ourselves and doing what makes us happy.
When we set a goal, there are often many successes along the journey if we pay attention. One example of this that I often give to my clients is
“2 men decide to climb to the top of Mount Everest, they both have the goal to reach the apex, however, for 1 of them, this is the only goal there is. The 2nd man has many goals. He would like to learn as much as he can about climbing on the way. He wants to improve his physical fitness, to enjoy nature and his surroundings on the way up and see if he can stay in the present moment. On the way this 2nd man enjoys the scenery, he notices how much stronger he feels on this trip, he learns more about how to use his climbing equipment efficiently and feels he has really gotten a lot out of the trek. The first man powers up the mountain stopping for nothing with his eye on the top of the mountain all the way. He feels so much pressure to keep going and as he watches a storm rolling in his stress increases as he worries they might not have the time they need to reach the apex. Finally, they are told that the storm and winds coming up make it too dangerous to continue and they will have to turn back.
Both men feel disappointment, but the 2nd man soon turns his focus to all he did get out of the day and feels very satisfied with the journey He is able to feel that there were many successes achieved. The 1st man, however, says to himself, “I did not achieve my goal, if only I had been faster or left earlier, now I will have to do it over again.” There was no joy for him in this attempt. Which of the 2 men would you rather be?
Success is about life satisfaction. It is all about figuring out who you are and what you love and accepting yourself. It is about finding the joy in life, how often we smile and laugh, those times when we are just being in the moment and allowing ourselves to drink in our surroundings, gain everything we can from our experiences, learn and grown.
I have learned that there are no mistakes, there is no right or wrong, there is only experience and perspective. Every experience we have is actually neutral, it is we, who attach meaning to it. We decide whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad, a struggle or a learning opportunity. It is up to us. Our belief systems tend to dictate this and where do we get those? from other’s around us, family, teachers, friends, the workplace, the media, our social learning. Where did they develop these? from their social world. From what I have learned there are many unhelpful and, in fact, inaccurate beliefs in the world and there are many flawed people who pass on their flawed ideas to others packaging them up as absolute truths. Therefore, I would ask that you question and challenge the values and beliefs that have been passed on to you. Are they really helpful? do they fit for you? do they enhance or detract from your life satisfaction? You can choose what you believe, what resinates with you as truth and what makes you happy. The only law that is absolute and must always be followed is that of “do no harm” to the self or to others. If your beliefs and actions pose no intent to, or conceivable risk of, harm to others (physical or emotional) and you feel intuitively that this is a path that will bring you satisfaction and joy then have a go. If it doesn’t turn out the way you would hope then ask yourself, What did I learn from this? how did I grow? what would I change or do differently next time? and move forward.
Most importantly, have fun with whatever you do, laugh with yourself. The older I get and the more experiences I have, I am able to do this more and more. I own the things I feel were a “mistake” or that I felt a embarrassed about and have a bit of a laugh about it. Therefore I can say that it really does help. I laugh all the time and I feel joy a lot. I find that most of the time this comes, not so much from the big things in life but rather from the small. I would say therefore, that my biggest successes often come from the smallest things because they provide me with the most joy.
I love to laugh, especially those long loud belly laughs that have you almost rolling on the floor, your stomach and your jaw aching. It is such an amazing release and leaves you feeling so light and relaxed afterwards. Many people talk about crying as a release and I would agree that this is true and that it is important to let the tears fall too. However, I have done both and the difference is that after a good laugh, I feel lighter and relaxed, after a good cry, I often feel heavy and drained. So I know which I prefer.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to have a good old belly laugh? I challenge you to do something this week that you find fun and funny and if something doesn’t go to plan, try to find a perspective that allows you to laugh about it.
Chase the joy people, life is too short to spend it feeling stressed and miserable. Chase the Joy!!! Your body, your mind and your soul will benefit and thank you for it.