[AS SEEN ON THE HUFFINGTON POST] I often teach about building a better world by applying common sense on steroids. What has become glaringly obvious is that our society is set up to push us to extreme levels of frustration.
A new science is emerging linking happiness to our well-being, which in the final analysis translates to human sustainability. According to the World Happiness Report 2015 published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the United States ranks 15th in the world, just below Mexico.
Whether residing in a developed country or not, there are some key components to living the good life that tend to be overlooked as they run contrary to our consumer-driven culture. But, we are re-discovering economics is only part of the equation.
Losing everything during my child’s cancer treatment for a brain tumor a few years ago, I’ve learned a few things about what constitutes living the good life, and you know what? A warm shower and a walk in the woods with my family are right at the top.
What are the driving forces behind dissatisfaction? What is the common thread of personal well-being, or even ever-elusive personal fulfillment? How can you successfully navigate life when things take an unexpected turn?
The difference between achieving personal fulfillment or heart-breaking disillusionment ultimately begins with you and where you are placing your focus, regardless of circumstances.
Here are 7 reasons why you might be frustrated with your life.
- You feel you have failed at something.Feeling cynical or defeated, or that your hard work is not paying off? Life continuously places road signs in front of you every day, guiding you along your journey. Are you listening and watching, or are you insisting the world conform to your demands on your schedule?When there is disappointment in life, seeing everything as an opportunity will keep you invigorated and challenged in a good way. The ability to adapt and learn are vital to living the good life. If you don’t evolve, you die. And then you die anyway. Consider changing course or starting something new. Age is not important. Follow your bliss.
- You play the comparison game.
Making a living becomes complicated when you wish to live like someone else. Materialism and title are fake substitutes for real affluence—the ability to inspire people.What do you really value? Time, family, freedom, creativity, helping others, or maybe you just want to live a simple life. Make a list and then begin to devise an action plan. Our limited definitions of success are expanding to include less is more.
- You’ve mortgaged your life.You’ve paid with your freedom for the illusion of security. Economy provides us with sustenance of life, but when it becomes the goal, you work like a machine, losing your passion for living.The American Dream is also changing. Too many of us watched our parents become enslaved by possessions they worked so hard for only to lose them or die too early to enjoy them. New markets are opening up that allow us greater life flexibility through stewardship rather than ownership.
- You self-medicate to fill the void.Innovation and automation have provided us with more free time than we’ve ever had. Instead of filling it with creativity, we self-medicate our off-hours with TV, smart phones, information, and shopping, looking for a quick high to fill the emptiness in our lives.Do you remember when you were 5-years-old, happy and carefree? Every day was an adventure. Regain your sense of wonder by looking at every day as a fresh beginning filled with possibility. Rediscover your inner child.
- You are daunted by all the strife in the world.Living the good life is being peaceful even when those around you are stirring the pot. When others engage in negativity, don’t get sucked in. Consider ending support of violent media content.Become response-able for you and your corner of the world. Share uplifting news and things you love on social media. Seek common ground with those you come into contact with to build upon, supporting change as needed.
- You’ve allowed technology to supplant human contact and nature.Do you ever walk your neighborhood and ask where all the people are? When was the last time you roamed a nature trail? Technology is nice, but it’s not nicer than a sense of community and all the wisdom and health benefits hidden in nature’s vastness. If you’ve forgotten this, stop what you’re doing right now. Come back in 30 minutes and report your findings.
- Too much “me” time.Self-love and self-care are certainly important, but keeping a healthy balance between ego and selflessness is the striking point of cultivating personal fulfillment. In a synergetic world, personal fulfillment and social responsibility are intimately connected.Try volunteering just two hours a month to discover what you would grumble about at minimum wage. Being in service to others takes you out of your head and your difficulties. It is a gift—the most exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling gift you could ever give—the gift of you!
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Finding harmony between economic, social, and environmental objectives (or mind, body, and spirit) is key to personal and community well-being and happiness. The most important thing in life is the joy in being alive.
If you think there is something more important than this, you are bound to experience frustration. Your life becomes beautiful as soon as you put your heart into it. Your passion for life can never be taken away from you—unless you take away your focus.
Don’t worry, nobody’s perfect. We all have our rough patches. Focus is the key to mastery in life. Which do you wish to master? Gratitude for being alive or being alive and feeling like you’re dead?
I still own nothing but this laptop—this time by personal choice. Truthfully, I didn’t lose everything. I’ve got my beautiful daughter (and son). Everything else is just accessories. Once you let go of what is illusory, you embrace life’s mystery and really begin to live!