Many people go through every day lost in thought, thinking of the past with regret and pondering the future with fear. They fail to build worthwhile lifestyles getting caught up in the minutiae of everyday mundane tasks to occupy their mind for a time before returning to the thoughts that trouble them. Here we will attempt to unravel the reasons so many of us choose to procrastinate and identify what you can do today to change the way you spend your days.
I would often sit and ponder what it was I truly wanted to do with my life. To be really honest I used to sit and think about a lot of things and spend most of my valuable time lost in thought.
When my daughter was born over a decade ago, I left employment in search of wealth to give her a better life and childhood than the one I had. I was in IT Services at the time and naturally set up an IT consultancy. It was quite a successful business and we could include a royal household in a list of clients.
The problem was, I hated everything about it, although I did not know this at the time. This may sound ungrateful but providing services for systems that have a high dependency need for a money making businesses just brings out the worst of humanity. Everyone treated us like it was our fault the systems had malfunctioned in some way.
Even though I was earning incredible wages, I used to get into the car park, look at our gorgeous offices and just think “god I hate my job”.
This lack of gratitude crept into every aspect of my life. Anyone one on the outside looking in at my life with perspective would see, I had a girlfriend and daughter who are both as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside, they both adored me and supported me. I had a dog who was like a second born child and was as happy to see me if I leave the room for two minutes and returned than if I had just reappeared from a year-long vacation. I had an amazing job by most people’s standards, I had a workplace environment anyone would envy and a stunning home in the country.
But I am unhappy, what the actual fuck? Instead of enjoying my time and be grateful for my blessings, I used to sit thinking. I thought about being wealthy and the ways I could achieve this. I thought about the mistakes I had made in choosing my career. I thought about what I wanted to do and how it was impossible to do it with all my financial commitments. I thought about my families safety. I thought a lot about why I was so unhappy. If there was a negative thought, I thought about it.
The issue is, I was always aware of the outside person looking in. I built my life thinking of their perception, not really taking into account what made me happy.
I just didn’t take the time to enjoy what I had. Instead of enjoying the income and spending time with my family, I chose to stay in my mind, thinking.
I was, however, very functional at work though, you see I loved a task list. Tasks lists are amazing things and this little gem would allow me to take my mind off thinking and free me some time to achieve wealth, well that is what I used to think (you see the irony here).
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was a renowned Stoic philosopher prior to his fame in the Russell Crow movie. The Stoics believed that thought was a tool to plan efficient and worthwhile actions or put simply, thought that is not twinned with action is futile.
The fundamental tenets of stoicism are:
Accept your fate
This can be misinterpreted to mean that you should not try to better yourself or situation when it actually means that good and bad things happen, this is a fact. It is only our mental judgement of them that makes them painful.
Twinned with emotions thought is the most destructive force in our lives today. Just a few examples would be, fear of loss, fear of a future outcome and jealousy.
The point is to not judge events or circumstances with emotion or thought, just accept it for what it is. If you can act to change the event then think about your actions and act accordingly.
Live in accordance with nature’s law
This quite simply put, is to live with only necessity. To not want for material things. To transcend the desire of collecting trinkets and working for wealth’s sake to attain them.
A man should work on improving himself, his self-control and above all he should live in the real world far removed from the prison of the mind.
The problem with over thinking or getting lost in thought is that if we do it all the time it becomes habitual. We wake up thinking and the voice in our head gets louder as the day goes on.
The dialogue of the voice usually sings the same chorus as the things we are unhappy with, which results in a constant negative stream of thought or basically the grating soundtrack to our lives. We think if we make the worries go away the unhappy voice will suddenly find, if we lose weight or get rich, voila, instant happy thoughts.
The problem is generally, we do not get good advice when we leave school or we are too young to know what we truly want to do.. We end up in jobs we do not truly love, they are not our calling, so we will never get true happiness from them and we will never attain true wealth.
We may have money but we are constantly thinking about our unhappy predicament so we do not know that the best thing to do would be to enjoy the money. The same can be said for losing weight, we lose a bit of weight or even achieve our goal and because the root cause of the issue is not resolved we slip back into bad habits and the negative dialogue re-emerges. Then we simply have the extra piece of cake or the Mcdonalds instead of the healthy option.
The dopamine fix or instant hit of happiness is enough to ensure we stay addicted to food. Because of the constant unhappy nagging we also seek escape in other high-calorie escape substances like alcohol.
I truly believe we are a nation of functioning alcoholics purely because alcohol stops us thinking and allows us to be present in real life.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. ”
Now that brings me to the most important two words I could possibly say to anyone seeking happiness, “be present”. When you are present in the moment, you are not thinking.
Have you ever spoken to someone and while you are talking they start to move their mouth, attempting to speak over you? That is because they were not present in your conversation, they were thinking of what to say next. If they were present they would have let you finish and then contemplated their response.
The problem is, we see our thoughts as ourselves, we identify with the thoughts we are thinking and believe that they are us, rather than a tool to work out how to achieve our goals.
In this state our whole lives can be seemingly devastated by another person’s words or actions, even a low mood caused by too much alcohol can lay waste to our happiness, which also leads to more negative thought and the soundtrack gets darker.
If you are like me and you love the countryside, you will notice the pure silence when you look at a place of beauty. That right there is being present, the inner voice is silent while the real you takes in the wonder.
Meditation and exercise
There are exercises you can do daily to allow you some rest bite from the madness and meditation really is key.
Most people tune out when you mention meditation so the next time you stuck in a brain fucking cycle of negativity take 5 minutes to yourself and try this simple exercise.
In your five minute break take seven seconds for every in breath and eight seconds for every out breath for the full 5 minutes. If you feel better after doing this I would recommend you try one of the books or apps from the links at the end article on meditation.
Exercise is also a must in any happy lifestyle, there are so many benefits in fact, that I need to list them:
- Weight loss leading to healthy mind and body
- Mind and body unity (meditative effect)
- Flushes the body of the stress drug cortisol
- Boosts higher brain function
- Boosts energy
- Boosts sex drive
- Promotes better sleep
In short exercise is awesome, it should be as habitual as sitting down in front of the TV with a beer is to most people now. If you are not exercising regularly you really need to ask yourself why?
Now while meditation and exercise will give you some healthy downtime, stop cyclic thinking in its tracks, promote happiness and clarity, it is not going to solve the root issue.
I would hazard a guess that 99% of people, especially the ones reading this are unhappy with their job. Their job, where they will spend an astonishing 23% of their life, with this figure increasing for workaholics and those who choose or are forced into late retirement.
I just fell into IT services, I did not choose it and nor would I do so again. Doing what you want to do, what you are passionate about will make you happy and inevitably wealthy.
I say this because if you love doing something, you will have the energy, passion, and creativity to be the best you, you can possibly be. To be a master in your field or a mastermind will be made possible only by these things.
And do you know what, you are going to love doing it, every single second of it. This will lead to happiness in other areas of your life, this will lead to the soundtrack getting a funky beat.
But there is a catch, if you sit thinking about what you want to do, you are never going to do it. Sure make a list of things you really love doing but do not sit thinking about it for two years.
Here is the trick, you are going to have to get out there and try it. You heard me, get off your lazy procrastinating arse and go give it a go. But what is “it”? Most people at 50 years old still do not know what they want to do and have probably just given up. Well, “it”, is everything there is to try, try everything until you find your calling.
Go to night school and enroll in a woodwork course, a cookery course, a writing course. Do everything, if it is shit, do not go back. You tried it and ticked it off the list, you actioned your thinking, you are living. I imagine you probably made some new friends in the process too.
If you are scared of new environments, try an online course or distance learning. My first blogging course was $8.00 in a sale on Udemy.
Once you have found what you want to do, do it in your spare time while you have another job. Is it better than watching X Factor right? You are changing your life to what you want it to be after all and doing something that you really enjoy, instead of escaping your mind utilizing the telebox.
In short, life is short. It is far too short to sit around thinking about what you should be doing to lead the life you want to live.
Make a start to creating your perfect life because you deserve to have it. Do not want for things others have or overlook the wonder that it right under your nose in the shape of people that adore you.
- Be grateful (every day for what you already have)
- Find your calling (and do it)
- Live (stop thinking and living life in your head)
And finally, stop taking it all so seriously, none of us are making it out of here alive 🙂