7 Truths about life

This article is for the curious ones. The dreamers. The introverts. The explorers. And those who like to reflect and interpret the world around them. If you’re like me, you want to know how the world operates. How it’s put together. You’re hungry for reality and understanding. You want to distinguish true from false. You want to live well.

The world is made with dust and magic. It’s built on truths that live beyond you or I. Here are a few truths I see around me. You might see them too.
Happiness is ephemeral
Now is the only moment in existence
Planning is (mostly) futile
Transformation is a by-product of accepting yourself
Physical space begets emotional space
Strong connections are not optional
Everything is spiritual

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Happiness is ephemeral

“I’ll be happy when…”

It’s so easy to be happy one moment then disappointed the next. Happiness seems so circumstantial. Like a boat on a sea of emotion that’s constantly moving, swelling, crashing and raging. Take me for example. I frequent the emotional rollercoaster on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.

The transitory nature of happiness begs the question, what makes a good life?

A TEDx Talk by Robert Waldinger looks at just this. Over 75 years he and his team have studied, through the Harvard Study of Adult Development, what makes a good life. In their research they discovered a few keys elements to ‘living well’. The main one was that “the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.”

From this research it’s clear that lifetime happiness (which some might call joy) is formed by choosing to live in a community where strong relationships with family and friends are prioritised.

This wisdom is old and well known, yet true as ever.

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Now is the only moment in existence

The mind is ambitious. Sometimes it thinks it has superpowers. Sometimes the mind thinks it can live in the present and past and future. Being able to stop and remember a moment gives our mind the impression that it’s outside of time. That it can pick and choose which moment it lives within. The only dilemma is that it’s an illusion.

We can’t think outside of time. We can only process things in the current moment. Remembering or ‘reliving’ a moment is simply our mind filtering a memory through our current mood, consciousness, assumptions and worldview.

So we have two options.

1. We can live in the present moment. We can take in the world around us. We can breath. We can live mindfully.
2. Or we can live in the present moment with our mind in another moment (reliving the past or fantasising about the future).

Before reading this next bit, take a moment to breathe in…and out.

We don’t have the sunset we remember. Or the sunset we’re looking forward to.

We just have this sunset. We just have this breath. This moment.

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Planning is (mostly) futile

Planning for your next holiday makes sense. Planning how your life will look in 5 years doesn’t make as much sense.

I’ve come to this realisation the hard way. And maybe that’s the only way to come to this realisation.

I am a self-confessed planner, dreamer and recovering ‘lover of control’. I have made all kinds of plans – plans for this year, plans for the next five years, plans for all the years until I’m thirty. But if I’m honest my plans are usually pretty useless in the end. They’re good at the start but in the end they become (at best) a rough mud map for real life.

“I’ll complete my university degrees in 2013…2015…aww, stuff it. It’ll finish them by 2018.”

Think about it though. Why is planning such a big draw card? For me, planning = security. Well, at least the illusion of security. If I know where I want to go, then I’ll be sure to get there. Right?

I think the point is that nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is locked in. I can plan all I want but it doesn’t guarantee that my plans will become a reality. Planning can be the start of making a dream a reality but simply ‘making a plan’ doesn’t guarantee that my aspirations will come true. Writing on a piece of paper that I’d complete university by 2015 never worked out.

Bottom line? Planning does not put me in control.

I am a powerful person who makes choices and owns those choices. But at the end of the day there will always be things outside of my control that a plan cannot account for.

Planning is a start but not an end.

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Transformation is a by-product of self-acceptance

In my experience, self-acceptance isn’t quick or formulaic.

It’s a dusty winding road. It’s a lifelong path. It’s a journey to the end of the earth.

The self-help industry would like to tell you that transformation can be delivered overnight. Free shipping. New you. Overnight success.

The only issue is that, from what I’ve read and experienced, lasting transformation is gained through a very diffident method. Through extending love and forgiveness to yourself and others.

I think we all know inside that real transformation cannot be delivered with free shipping. I think we know it must come naturally as a result of connecting to a purpose greater than ourselves. For example, belonging to a community that accepts us, without requiring us to change who we are.

I’ve just started down this path of self-acceptance. I’m beginning to love and forgive each part of me, despite how I can be my own worst critic.

And in the end don’t we all just want to be accepted for who we are?

Let’s start by accepting ourselves unconditionally.

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Physical space begets emotional and spiritual space

There is an emotional freedom and spiritual awakening that happens through time in nature.

We are made of dust, so it makes sense that we feel at home near rocks, waterfalls, forests and streams. We are made for open fields, for mountains, for the rain and for the wind.

It’s not a new idea that the space around us effects us in profound ways. The space around us may even be a mirror into our soul. Picture for a moment that you live in a cluttered home. You’d probably find your mind increasingly foggy and unclear.

Part of the reason we downsized and moved into our little home on wheels is we wanted to have physical space around our home. We wanted 5 acres of beautiful land. We wanted a horse as a neighbour. We wanted a lake 5 minutes down the road.

It’s not time in nature or decluttering that magically fixes us or makes life perfect. Quite the opposite. Physical space allows us to become less distracted. And when we’re less distracted we can process our emotions and our spirituality. It’s when we begin to grasp the deeper parts of who we are, we find peace.

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Strong connections are not optional for living well

Honest connections are something we all crave for. In a world of picture perfect moments, we want people in real life who we can be our truest self with. People who we can celebrate with and cry with.

This is the picture of community we all ache for and were made for. Strong connections are built by continuously saying ‘yes’ to honesty even when it’s difficult.

Sometimes I admit to James that I feel ashamed or embarrassed or that I feel like I’m not good enough. Those conversations are enriching afterwards but when the words are falling out of my mouth and I’m looking sheepishly at the floor, it can be confronting.

A few simple ingredients make strong connections possible – raw honesty, empathy, laughter and compassion.

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Everything is spiritual

I find peace in knowing that the world has mystery left in it.

I would describe my view of God and spirituality as a mystery; as a type of magic.

Part of me is logical, practical and grounded in reality. This part of me keeps me alive. It’s good at completing tasks and remembering information but it has a hard time trusting. The other part of me is less practical. It’s free-spirited, extravagantly hopeful and wild. It believes that all things are possible. It knows that God is the life force behind everything. It trusts that life holds all good things, even when a moment seems hopeless.

There’s more at play in our world than meaningless noise and atoms. I know there’s magic in the believing and in the trusting. I know there’s mystery left in this world and that we’re invited to be part of it and its adventure.