I was confronted with death of some great people recently and it made me think again at the value of life.
A number of young people I regularly meet are obsessed by happiness. “My goal is to be happy, i want to be happy at work, in my family, in love, with my friends….“. That’s what i hear day after day and when I ask my dear young buddies “but, what is happiness ?” , they tell me : “I don’t exactly know, I can’t really define it, it’s an ideal but it’s hard to determine,…”.
It’s true ! Happiness is a complex notion. Can one be happy and sick at the same time for example ? Can we feel happy and sad at the same time ? Is happiness a short term idea or a life long concept. I’d love to discuss that with my friend (and ex-student) Laurence Vanhée, founder of Happyformance, a consulting practice in the field of happiness at work http://happyformance.com/en/ Laurence is also a trainer of CHO’s (Chief Happiness Officers) https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurencevanhee
But let’s forget about definitions of happiness and let me tell you about moments of life.
A few months ago, in a small post called Believe in the value of moments, I wrote this: I believe in the value of “moments” ! We need good moments, exciting moments, lazy moments and self care moments… https://profbaeyens.com/2016/04/17/believe-in-the-value-of-moments/
Actually, we sometimes feel life as some kind of wild “river of no return” taking us, isolated and defenseless individuals, from one point to another without any time for us to stop and enjoy our environment. In this hectic life journey, we feel out of control and, when we loose someone who is dear to us, we regret we didn’t pay enough attention, we swear that we will change in the next future and then…we’re back on the river again…
How to solve that ? What can we do ?
First of all, we should realize that we have not one life but several lives. One is work life. Taking most of our time or most of our worries.Then we have the family life. Generally important at certain times.These 2 lives, family and work, take most of our time and frequently conflict the one with the other. A number of generations have been conditioned by society to give them the highest priority.
Then comes the most private lives: love and relationship on one side, social on the other side. Not to forget our personal life: what we like to do alone, some personal interest, maybe a passion…
Most people talk about balancing work and personal life. But it’s more complex, it”s not about a 2 sides balance, it’s about juggling with 5 balls and harmonize the whole. If you want to succeed in that, you need to think about your life vision and your life purpose. To know more, read https://profbaeyens.com/2016/05/31/do-you-have-a-life-purpose/
Secondly, we need to have a clear sense of pleasure and pain ! “Epicurus (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurus
Life is uncertain. The past is gone. The future is unknown, can be good, can be bad, can be non-existent. In that instance, the only right way to act is to enjoy right away any moment you feel good and make it great. As we cannot avoid bad moments, try to live through them as well as you can but never make it a drama. Just make bad moments shorter. One of the most famous and short sentence summarizing this philosophy is CARPE DIEM(latin from famous Roman writer Horace) meaning “Seize the day” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace
To be practical, the method I recommend to improve your life is to start with a review of a typical week. Not a review of your tasks, but a review of your feelings. Use your smartphone to record any good or bad emotion coming across your mind. It can positive (joy, excitement, smile…) or negative (sadness, weariness, irritation…). Link it to the life circumstance (work, family, …) It’s simple:
Monday – 10:30 am – upset – my boss
Tuesday – 9:30 pm – laugh – putting kid to bed
At the end of the week (full week, including weekend), just note the proportion of good and bad feelings. If you are over 75% good feelings, you’re ok. If you’re under 50% make an analysis, get an understanding of it, if possible with a mentor. If you’re neutral, think about why ! Again, a mentor may help here. https://profbaeyens.com/mentoring/
It’s time to stop managing your life based on time and tasks. Choose to promote feelings and emotions. Our time on earth is short. YOLO: You Only Live Once. Your happiness will bring happiness to others: the ones you love, the ones you appreciate, the ones who generate positive waves.
Reinforce the moments that bring you peace, serenity, joy and excitement. Don’t think of time productivity: it’s a zero sum game. Anyway, the more you will reinforce good moments, the more productive you will be at the end. The more serene you are, the better your judgment in dealing with tough problems and the better you will manage your team members.
So, you see, it’s all gain !
Be inspired !