“This really could be a good life! A good, good life.” -Good Life, One Republic
Earlier this year I spent four months in Southeast Asia. I travelled alone and by land. I deeply desired to get a sense of what it was like to live, work, travel and breathe in these countries. That would never fully be possible, staying in hotels and hostels will always distance you, and having a western mindset, but I was going to try. I spent a considerable amount of time in what I found to be the comfortable and luxurious countries of Vietnam and Thailand. The food was outstanding the people were kind and open. Meanwhile, living in Cambodia and Myanmar, I felt uncomfortable at times, but relished in the depth of the culture regional identities of the people groups there. I saw a lot, I ate some of the best food I’ve ever, and often in the same afternoon, and I had conversations that will stick with me for life. Through this, and knowing what it’s like back home, I came to a conclusion: most people have absolutely no clue where they’re headed. They’re trying to survive. They have no mission. They have no world-changing goals. It’s like the Titanic has gone down and they’re all desperately kicking, trying to keep their heads above water.
We’re all on a journey, some know where they’re going, but most have no idea. Now I don’t expect you to believe everything I say here, nor do I have all the answers. But I do believe I’ve developed a formula to living a more fulfilling life. Life is more than what most of us perceive it to be. I’m sure you’ve heard a good life is not about getting married, having kids, buying a house, selling the house, growing old and then dying. That’s probably true in some contexts, but those things aren’t necessarily bad, and you shouldn’t necessarily not seek to desire them.
“We’re all on a journey, some know where they’re going, but most have no idea.”
On my travels, I saw a lot of people that were unhappy. Some were also very content and happy with simple lives and having very little. One common thread I saw was the boys meets girl, and then they get married. It seemed to be the goal of most I met. The question I kept asking myself was what happens to the dreams of that girl? She gets hitched, but then is left raising the kids, while the man is stuck in a career he hates. They struggle through life, paying bills finding some time for themselves, but having to be grownups they lose the lustre of what life was really intended to be! Too many focus on small goals, buying a house, selling that house and then buying another house, paying the bills and sending the kids to college. They go from shift to shift, paycheck to paycheck, bill to bill. Stuck in a vicious, capitalist cycle of sustaining their lifestyles, they wonder why at the end of the day they are exhausted and burning out. My apologies if this has begun to sound depressing. I promise you I’m getting to the good parts. The better way.
The Better Way
So you might have guessed the better way to this life is not living that way. It’s not about building your career, buying a house, getting married, having kids and growing old. If those are your focuses they’ll eventually feel empty, even once you have it all! So how do you can live a better life? I think it’s about a few simple things:
- Live within your means. Don’t live in debt or with more than you can afford.
- Live simply. Too much stuff will only make you feel more empty. Less is more.
- Live transparently. Be transparent and open with people you trust.
- Give back. One of the single best things you can do to be happy and feel content is giving back. Give of your time to others and the community, and expect nothing in return other than knowing you’re helping make the world a better place.
- Be part of community. Community is an ingredient that is undeniably an essential part to being a healthy human being. Without it we have nothing and waste away.
- Find your purpose. A lot of people end up unhappy and disillusioned by life because they fail to discover their purpose. It’s not always about finding your purpose, but your purpose finding you.
- Follow your dreams. Find a source to fund your dreams, and get to work. Everyone needs dreams.
- Explore the world. Go to parts of the planet that fascinate you. And repeat.
- Smile more. People don’t smile enough. When you share a smile with stranger on the street you have the power to make their day.
- Forgive. Don’t hold things against people. Make amends, and rebuild bridges.
- Love more. The world needs more love. There’s always more in us to give.
Hope this was helpful, and gives you some ideas in how to get more out of this beautiful life.