Turning 60 years this month was a piece of cake.
I took stock of the years I spent working on how to live a meaningful life.
Observing that I’m feeling vibrant, grateful, and healthy.
I’m at ease, calm, and filled with a ‘knowing’ that very few things in life matter.
And that whatever time I have left on this earth, I will spend it living my values.
I want the remainder of my life to be about connecting, loving, kindness, caring, having fun, being joyful, and laughing.
An Old Belief System Needs To Be Updated
Although my 50s were good years, they had a different flavor to them.
They were filled with a lot of left over stuff that I was dealing with.
An old belief system about productivity, goals, and making meaning out of life.
I spent most of the decade working through those ingrained values that kept me racing, producing, seeking, and much of the time in a state of dis-ease.
Don’t get me wrong.
From my 30s on, I was living a rich and joyful life on many levels. Not only did I have family and friends that I loved, but I morphed into a passionate gardener, a garden designer, a published author, and a recognized broadcaster.
I was deeply connected to communities in urban areas of Philadelphia. I worked closely with Vietnamese refugees that miraculously landed in Philadelphia. I created a non-profit inner city motivational program for elementary school children that was pretty incredible. It was nutrition for the souls of all of us who worked in the program – and for the students.
I also returned to playing and studying the piano with an intensity that I hadn’t experienced since my teenage years.
But sometimes I would hear the whispers of an old voice echoing ‘you need to do more’, ‘you’re not enough’.
All the phrases that left me feeling bad about myself. Disappointed in what I hadn’t achieved. Even ashamed.
The Truth About Our Negative Thoughts
In bestselling author Rick Hanson’s riveting new book, Hardwiring for Happiness, he talks about how we are hardwired with a negativity bias.
Due to creatures’ 600 million years of survival challenges, their evolving nervous system became hardwired for negativity – which translates into Hanson’s phrase “negativity is ‘velcro’ and positivity is ‘teflon'”.
And with 40,000- 60,000 thoughts that humans experience every day, researchers say that 80% of them are negative. That translates into 32,000 – 48,000 negative thoughts that we experience on a daily basis.
So, even after doing all of the work that any of us have done, and feeling that we’ve made significant inroads on updating values and living them, in no way can we vanquish them. But we can work at minimizing the bad thoughts and focus on the ‘good’ moments every day.
Think In Terms of A Lifetime Journey
Knowing these facts, rather than sprinting to get to the other side of this spiritual journey, I’ve come to accept and embrace a lifetime journey of ~
Focusing on the process, rather than on the end result.
Maintaining a beginner’s mind.
Learning to accept death – and live life more fully.
Attaining a state of peace and joy.
Self acceptance and forgiveness.
Slowing down and observing.
‘Being’ rather than ‘doing’.
Experiencing the rapture of being alive.
Sinking into a state of peace and joy.
Take Ownership of Who Your Are
As I enter a new decade, I am taking ownership of who I am.
An individual with some wisdom, lots of experience, and a desire to connect more freely and on a deeper level with humans, nature, the animal world, and non-living things.
I want to share what I have to offer.
To not only do it verbally or with the written word.
But silently sending love, blessings, and healing energy into the world
7 Strategies On How To Live A Meaningful Life
1. Own your core values and practice living them.
Reflect on what they are. If you don’t know, dream about how you want to live and who you strive to be.
2. Work on the stuff that matters – and let go of everything else.
Not sure what the stuff is that matters? Keep a running list of the clutter you want to get rid of and a list of the stuff that you want to include.
Then start working on it. Minimally discard and/or include one thing per day.
3. Laugh every day.
If you come home from a stressful day at work, watch a favorite sitcom that makes you laugh.
Observe the opportunities you have at home, socially, and at work where you can create an environment of laughter and fun.
4. Connect with at least one person a day.
It doesn’t need to be someone you know. It can be striking up a conversation with a stranger on the street, or talking to a grocery store clerk.
5. Let your heart be your compass. Listen to your intuition.
When something does not sit right with you, even though logic tells you it’s a good thing, follow the advice of your ‘wise self’.
6. Listen deeply.
We live in a world of constant chatter. When someone is talking with you, focus on what they are saying and really listen. Work at being silent.
7. Practice mindfulness.
Simply put, being mindful is about living in the present – every moment of every day – with no thoughts about the past or the future.
Practicing mindfulness is a life time pursuit ~ and well worth it.
It’s a road to leading a more connected and joyful life.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. Share the strategies you use to live a more meaningful life.