As I’m growing older, I’m getting more and more comfortable with the idea of speaking my mind. I’ve come to terms with a lot of things I now realize that I have no control over (including aging). And I’ve also come into terms with being crazy, moody me! It’s been a 42 year old journey, where I had to learn many lessons along the way, and will definitely learn many more in the long run. But, I believe that the lessons I’ve learnt so far in combination with the realizations I’ve made, have helped me set 8 principles. These principles are not new year’s resolutions that so many try to set and commit to. (I must have read hundreds of those, by the way, from so many bloggers over these past two months).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against them but honestly, they don’t work with me…and I have serious doubts if they work for most; otherwise, why are they being-reset year after year?! Now, I’m no philosophy guru, but I think my life’s approach is actually working! The difference in my approach is that I’ve only set one long term goal: to live a “quality life” (most of the days, anyway). And that’s certainly one of the greatest achievements, because when you do have a quality life that’s when life is as good as it gets! This is the life mantra that helps me get through the daily problems, chores, tasks and projects and it’s based on the following 8 principles.
8 Principles for Living a Quality Life
Living a “quality” life has a lot to do with following certain virtues, principles or guidelines. More importantly though, I’ve come to realize that it primarily relies on one thing: reason. If there is reason, then the willpower follows and eventually everything will come naturally. Reason helps us think, interact and learn. So, we all need to use more reason in life (and a lot more common sense – a few of you may add)! 😉 But on a more serious note, reason is required to engage, explore, understand and appreciate.
If we reason things then it becomes more simple to build healthier relationships with other people without allowing being used, unappreciated or mistreated. Saying no to anything displeasing without feeling guilt trips, will become much easier. Setting better priorities will also follow. And that translates into a better time allocation on tasks. Therefore, reason is the cornerstone onto which a better life can be built. It is an absolute essential in order to find an inner balance and harmony, especially in a fast track Western type civilization that relies on “quick fixes.”
Worry about things that you can change, influence – the things that you control.
If you focus your energy there, then you can’t be sucked by the strain caused over things that you have absolute no control of. What if this or that, are all scenarios that we could do less with. No reason in self-torment or getting overwhelmed. Instead, use reason to change perspective and see the bigger picture for what the situation really is, re-evaluate it, and tackle it anew.
Invest in friendships.
These are the relationships in which we associate and affiliate with others and have a deep impact upon us. They can ground us and keep us in touch with reality. They can protect us and help us get through the rough times. Hence, it’s perfectly alright to let our guard down and allow ourselves to be vulnerable when surrounded by true friends. And it’s definitely alright to ask for their help when our focus needs tuning. Friendships need good listeners, trust, and leave no room for deception. They do need however, nurturing and care. (That’s the part I have to work harder on – because sadly, I tend to take some things for granted). But, the bottom line is that the bond of a genuine friend is priceless and well worth that extra mile. They give life a whole new meaning.
Do no harm. Give love and care enough to engage. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires getting involved even if it means getting messy and uncomfortable. Empathize. Not everyone has the same good fortune and not everyone is having a great life, a great job, or a good day. So, just be nice without passing judgement. After all what goes around, comes around. I truly believe that the more kindness you give, the more kindness you shall receive. One thing that motherhood has taught me, is that giving love and being kind are truly the ultimate feelings and both rely on being a non-egoist. That’s why the older I grow, the more I admire kind people, who invest in building patiently relationships rather than breaking them. The kindest people are the ones who, among other things, can truly appreciate goodness.
In experiences! Focus on collecting memories. Happy, meaningful memories. Free the mind and act. Money is necessary, but it is just a means to a lot of material stuff (that won’t buy you any real happiness). As if you didn’t know that. But lately, I’ve heard a lot of us argue that in these times we live in, money ensures a better living standard. Perhaps. My argument though, is that any living standard is subject to an appraisal. And any appraisal is based on various criteria. Having true friends for example is one such criterion, and money won’t buy any true friendship. Moreover, there’s a whole lot of people out there in this big wide world, happy with what they’ve got; totally oblivious to what material possessions they could have if they did have more money. As such, they couldn’t give a damn, but they are rich in experiences – life’s little moments where every struggle seems worth while!
Most of us common people (including myself, obviously) aren’t fortunate enough to have loads of money. We need to put some serious effort and work to earn our living. But getting rich in experiences doesn’t necessarily require too much effort or money. The key is to engage in experiences that are pleasing and meaningful. If you don’t have any hobbies, then I assure you that a great way to enrich your experiences is by giving a little of your time to others through i.e. volunteer work. An act of kindness, especially when appreciated by the receiver, resonates one of the greatest pleasures in life. How can money beat that?
Indulge in true pleasures.
Experience true pleasure, the kind that lasts. The aim is to experience pleasures that continue to give satisfaction, long after the act that creates them has ended. Usually, true pleasure lies in moments we share an experience with loved ones. Hence, being creative and acting out a hobby or the experience of travel may all give a lasting pleasure and turn into a true driving force. Thus, say yes to the things that spark your heart, at your own pace. And obviously, don’t waste time on pointless things.
…of anger. Let go of bitterness. Let go of regret. And most certainly let go of fear. It’s utterly liberating to simply let go of all the things that cause us distress, anguish and sadness. There’s no need to hold on to things that aren’t really worth it, in hopes that it will pay off in the long-run. Well, they don’t. No matter what we do, when something sucks and is causing us pain then, we’re better off if we let go of it. It won’t make us quitters. But letting go is the only healthy option, to keep our dignity intact (and sometimes our sanity for that matter)!
if you fear less, you’ll live more
End all deception.
That’s probably the hardest to do (at first). But once you get the hang of it, then you can humor yourself with it. You see, it’s in people’s nature to believe in things that are convenient to them, even at the expense of reality and truth. I’ve been guilty of this one time too many. Naturally, this can prove to be catastrophic and any decision making based on such misconceptions, will only lead to more troubles.
However, if you let go of any fears, discipline yourself with reason and listen to your true friends, then you can set yourself free. (Just remember that freedom is about acting on one’s individual rights, but never at the expense of others). It is a dual struggle that requires liberation from both external bondage, and internal self-deceptions that have us holding on to shady things and beliefs. So, break free from all that, by demanding more for your life! Shake off any outdated beliefs, and move on! I guarantee you that at the end of day, you’ll feel like your true, one-of-a-kind, amazing self!
Afterthoughts on a quality life
In closing, I’d like to make a note that each of these principles for a quality life relies on the other. I think of these principles as a pyramid with reason at the very bottom of it, deception on the top and all the rest in between. Start with reason and work your way to the top. At least that’s what I strive for and it’s given me peace. Peace of mind that my life is meaningful and not more complicated that it really has to be. That for me is a quality life; a life that is as good as it gets! Doesn’t that sound good?
I’m more than interested in learning what your thoughts are on this…so please share them in the comments below.
Live well and love lots, xo