Problem: Everyone says you can’t get everything you want from life, and they’re probably right.
Solution: Stop trying to “get” and focus on a few other worthy pursuits, and you may end up with everything you want anyway.
Every once in awhile, I’ll tell someone about the many things I’d like to do in my life. For instance, I’ve really enjoyed sharing my mountain climbing and marathon running plans with other travelers as I work my way up Africa and through Europe. I admit it can come off a bit outrageous at times, but I’m still excited to be doing these things.
Though I rarely encounter it on the road, one of the usual responses in conversation to something like this is, “Well, you can’t have everything you want in life.” It’s not meant maliciously; it’s only a figure of speech to make you feel better about not getting around to everything you might want.
Danger: time to start ignoring.
Well, I don’t really like being told I can’t have everything I want. I also don’t like feeling like I can’t have anything I want. Reading that might make it sound like I have some sense of entitlement, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’d wager that you don’t enjoy the thought of not being able to have something you really want, either. I don’t think it’s a pleasant feeling for anyone.
So, I’ve just decided that I’m going to go ahead and have everything I want from life. Notice I didn’t say “get.” No, I already have it. I already have everything I need to enjoy the perfect life, all I need to do now is realize it.
There are an infinite number of experiences to be had in life; all I have to do is pick the ones I want the most, and go after them. Of course, the same is true for you, as well. The trick is in realizing that all the things you want are really just objects that you tie to an experience, or a way that you want to feel. There are a lot of ways that you can feel successful without buying a mansion, having seven TVs, or driving a sports car. There are a lot of ways to feel loved without buying expensive gifts for people, having a trophy wife (or husband), or trying to make friends you don’t actually care about.
The trick isn’t to learn to stop wanting more, but to learn to start wanting more of the right things.
It’s okay to want more out of life, but if you’re always looking for more things, you might have a hard time getting them all. Once you do, you’re going to want even more.
What if, instead, you realized what you really wanted was more experiences instead of things? What if you were able to disconnect how you want to feel from the TVs, cars, houses, and toys that are supposed to help you feel that way?
Then the options are limitless, aren’t they? If you decide how you’re supposed to feel and you allow yourself to decide what things will make you feel that way, then the whole entire world can be yours.
Not everyone’s answer can or will be the same, but that’s where the beauty lies. If you want to get started for yourself, here are some of the things that have helped me start wanting more of my own “right things.”
- Focus less on material things and more on experiences. My life has changed dramatically since I stopped trying to have more things and started trying to do more things. If you really want, you can get creative and acquire just about anything you set your mind on, but I’ve found it’s a lot easier and more enjoyable to get all the experiences I want out of life instead of all the miscellaneous things that I used to think I wanted.
- Record everything you own. How many things do you have? How many of them do you actually use? How did you feel years ago when you only had half of those things? How do you feel now? For me, the answer to that last question was “about the same.” A complete eye opener. The fewer things I have, the more important each thing is to me. I don’t have the energy in my life to care for 500 different objects. Only 100 of them are actually important to me, but the other 400 create a lot of noise. By getting rid of those 400 things, I have far more attention to give to what I actually care about. That’s simple math. Keep in mind, though, that I’m not a minimalist, and you don’t have to be one either.
- Focus on a passion and throw away everything that doesn’t fit it. There’s a lot of talk about how important a balanced life is, but I’ve decided that a balanced life doesn’t work very well for me. Rather than trying to keep every part of my life “fine” I prefer to pick one part and make it amazing, knowing that I can do that while still maintaining enough balance elsewhere in life. These focuses shift over time, but the point is that, whatever part of my life I’m working on, I’m incredibly happy about it.
- Find gratitude in what you already have. Do you have a home that keeps rain, snow, and the sun off of your back? When you go to the sink, does clean, drinkable water come out of it? Are you reading this article from your own computer with an Internet connection you can afford to pay for? Maybe you even own a car that takes you places you want or need to go? I can answer yes to all of those, so congratulations to me; I’m in about the top 5% of the entire world. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in worrying about what I have and how to get more of it, and realizing just how much I already have is the fastest way I know to get those feelings in check.
I don’t want to stop dreaming about the future and what it could hold for me, but I also don’t ever want to forget how good I already have it. That’s a balance I don’t mind keeping, and the longer I hold it, the more I feel like I have everything I want.
So what about you? Do you have everything you want?
P.S. Hello from Nairobi, Kenya. I’m in transit to Warsaw, Poland right now for a bit of relaxation before heading to Russia to climb another mountain, so I’ll have to ask your forgiveness in my slowness responding to comments.
Image by: Crashmaster007
A sabbatical is a great way to make the work you do even better. But few people have the time to actually take one. Here’s how you can fit one into your busy life. Continue Reading