I’m going to share with you a brief but worthwhile exercise from Prof Steve Peters’ book The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness.
Imagine you are 100 years old and on your death-bed with one minute left to live. Your great-great-grandchild asks, ‘Before you die, tell me what I should do with my life.’
Pause for a moment and try to immediately and honestly answer this question. You have just one minute.
Answering this question, according to Prof Steve Peters, will identify what is important to you. It is what life is all about for you. It is your ‘Life Force’.
Whatever your advice was for your great-great-grandchild is really the advice you need to hear. If you’re not living by this advice, which is the essence of your existence, you are living a lie.
“Don’t live a lie,” urges Prof Steve Peters because, “it will unsettle you more than anything else.”
My advice for my great-great-grandchild is to: “Be happy and really really live your life.”
So how can one be happy?
On Friday night, I watched a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness. This uplifting film is about a psychiatrist who takes himself on a journey around the globe to research what makes people happy.
Without giving too much away, Hector discovers that happiness shouldn’t be the end-goal of the things we do. Rather, we should do the things we like to do and then happiness will emerge as a pleasant side-effect.
One of the most common barriers to happiness that Hector diagnoses is the destructive habit of making comparisons. When we believe that others are happier, more successful and better looking than us, we fail to feel content where we are. We ignore all the positives that are right there in front of us, waiting to be appreciated.
It’s simple really. Happiness is a choice. Do the things that bring you happiness, and appreciate and enjoy all that you have and all that you are.
The second part of my message to my great-great-grandchild is to really really live life. Are we not already living our lives seen as we are alive, you ask? Yes, of course we are. But there’s a difference between living and really really living. And I want to really really live my life.
Really really living means getting out there to experience, explore, learn, grow and expand. It means being present to beauty, to nature and to love.
It’s in the sharing and connecting with other human beings and with all living things. It’s in the embracing and supporting. It’s in our tears and in our laughter.
It’s when we dance, sing, hike and swim. It’s in inspiring and being inspired. This for me is really really living.
Am I following my own advice? Am I being happy and really really living? For the most part, yes. Then sometimes, I compare. I think too much. I worry. I complain.
I wish things were different and I turn my back on the abundance that’s right here right now. I shut myself into a safe, boring, compact box and forget that there’s a glimmering world out there and I can do anything. Anything.
And then somehow life reminds me that it wants to be really really lived. And I thoroughly agree.
What advice would you give your great-great grandchild? Are you practising what you preach? If not, listen to yourself. You’re a wise one!