My friend’s Instagram account is really quite a piece of work and I mean it in the nicest way possible. He goes with the hashtag of #lifemustbeexciting in all of his posts and almost all of them are of him traveling, attending massive meetings, conferences, living it up on a superbike, all decked out with his gorgeous wife and consuming copious amount of delicious food while gallivanting all around the world.
He’s into network marketing and this is what his life is like. I would be lying if I said I didn’t envy his pictures but I know what his life can be like, many a story was told over a cocktail or two.
But I would like to rebut his claim of ‘life must be exciting’.
So, what should life be like then?
1. Life Must Be Happy
Instead of showing off our winning strokes on social media all the time, and sometimes tellingly-forced pictures of filter-amplified joy, life must be happy.
Jack Kornfield wrote about how our world should be called ‘the wanting realm’ and he’s absolutely right.
The world is full of wants, desires, and the grasping of it.
Instead of wanting life to be ‘exciting’ all the time, we should have two lists — mindful wanting and senseless desires. Because let’s admit it. While getting paid millions of dollars every month is PRREEEETTTYYYY exciting, but so’s a paper cut.
The whole point is to understand what makes life exciting, and when we reach a point that we can pinpoint it out with searing certainty that it makes us happy, there isn’t a point in chasing what is ‘exciting’ in life. If the conclusion we reach is that it is senselessly crazy, ditch it.
2. Life Must be Grateful
I recently read an article of a mother complaining in the Malaysian version of ‘Dear Thelma’ about how her own mother was unwilling to help care for her own grandkids while the mother was out there working and earning mullah to feed the family.
There’s a lesson about gratefulness in there. Be thankful your mother is even there to be begin with.
To say Thelma didn’t hold back with her advice is an understatement. Thelma gave the new mom a verbal whopping.
To me, there are things in life that will simply not go the way we want it to. We want a mansion but we’ve got a condo. We want to travel to Italy but we have plans for Penang instead. We want a billion bucks but we have a few hundreds.
I stand by my point of view that whatever it is that we have in life, we have to be grateful for it. Without them, everything that we’ve been through will be for naught.
Gratefulness is also a positive mindset that can rollercoaster into something even bigger in the future. So, you’ve already got your million bucks and have seen every corner of the world, your level of gratefulness for what you have will further enhance your already fun life! Imagine that.
3. Life Must be Full
I love money as much as the next person. If you have extra cash, message me and I’ll text you my account number. Unless, you’re a Nigerian prince who was suddenly burdened with a large sum of money you don’t know where to put. Forget it, thank you.
But ‘excitement’ is usually meant in the context of being able to afford everything that your heart desires. It means eating gastronomic cuisine, owning a sports car, or having a collection of Rolexes.
What I mean by life being ‘full’ is that it must be filled with people we love, our family and friends, work we’re passionate about, colleagues we can jam with, a comfy bed to sleep on, effort to make delicious dinners for the people you care about, and a small vegetable garden to tend to.
Life should be a labor of love.
If you wish to link this to the business world, read the article below.
“You and I might go, “Wow! I just made two million dollars just for being privileged enough to have money to lend somebody else.” And that’s why you and I will never have ten million dollars to lend anybody. Because we would be grateful for it. And we would see a free two million dollars as a life-changing gift from God. But investors don’t think this way.” — Nothing Fails Like Success
4. Life Must be Balanced
If life was exciting every day, I would be exhausted and ready to throw in the towel by week two.
I don’t think I can deal with jumping off the plane on Day One, winning the lottery on Day Two, getting on a cruise on Day Three, Four and Five, getting a promotion on Day Six, celebrate a friend’s wedding anniversary on Day Seven, party till 4am on Day Eight, finding the perfect investor for my startup on Day Nine, giving birth on Day Ten….are you tired yet?
And we’re not even counting the possible negatives yet.
The way I see it, exciting can also mean busting your budget in the middle of the month, having a flat tire, getting demoted, having your Bluetooth headset die on you….they’re all out-of-the-norm and should qualify as ‘exciting’, am I right?
OK, let me #LOL for a while here. My runaway imagination got the best of me. XD
At first, during my teenage years and early twenties, exciting meant getting to be on stage, having the spotlight, and making people happy. Even if I sucked, I still got on stage. That was my obsession. It was later on that I learned why.
Everyone…no matter your age, personal preferences, religion, sex, profession…everyone’s a little bit of an imposter or actor.
“I first learned the term imposter syndrome during my junior year of college. A professor studying gender differences stood in front of a packed lecture hall, citing example after example that gave me shivers. Yes! This describes exactly how I feel! I don’t deserve to be here in this auditorium, at this dazzling institution, with so many brilliant students. I must have gotten here by error or luck or the grace of the stars. When are they going to figure out that I got good grades because I have a good memory, not because I’m actually smart?” — Managing Yourself: How to Calibrate Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses, Julie Zhuo
Too many of us are forcing our lives to be exciting, fun, and blameless. The truth is that all of us have it bad one way or another. It’s when we get to sit down and be brutally honest with ourselves that our reflection shows us how to form an opinion and find the right doorways.
These decisions would then lead to a more balanced life.
5. Life Must Be Full of Acceptance
As a blanket statement, I will just assume that every one of you/us reading this prefer a contented, unchanging and comfortable life over one that is filled with upheavals.
Within a short period of time, family members and a friend passed on. There’s nothing like death to punch you in the gut and deliver a life-altering shock.
As Teresa wrote in her blog, the Thanksgiving dinner table can change in what seems like a year or less — chairs were abandoned, people moved on, priorities shifted, lives altered, grandparents die, etc.
“Whenever you are feeling despair about everything you have lost over the years, remember to also acknowledge the power and wisdom you have gained. The people sitting at your table–cherish them. They may not be there next year — Teresa Shimogawa
And that’s why life is better when there is more acceptance. Acceptance of all of its glorious ups and depressing downs.
If I had to use one word to describe what life should be like, it would this — FLUID. Life should be fluid.
Let me know if you agree or disagree! I like looking at all sides of the coin (if there’s more than two, I’ll look!) and consider all different perspectives valid.
This post was also published to my Medium account which I regularly update with my thoughts and random ramblings. If you feel like indulging me, please do go ahead. See ya!