Live the life you tell your kids is possible

The podcast is back for its third season and this episode is inspired by the lessons I’ve learned about what it takes to live our big “anything is possible” lives.

When we think about the lives we want for our kids, most of us want them to have work they enjoy, someone to love and who loves them back and a life filled with happiness and joy – but what I discovered when I built my own life like that was that big lives can be pretty stressful! There’s an art to living them joyfully and not many of us are taught how to do that.

In this episode, I share 5 important requirements for a truly happy, purposeful life – and I believe the best way we can help our kids create such lives is to lead by example.

It’s not about how much money we have or how high we climb in our businesses or on the corporate ladder. It’s about our experience of day to day living and being who we are.

So, for my money, building habits around these 5 areas – and showing our kids how to do the same can make all the difference to our experience of life.

  1. Practice being present
  2. Practice reflection
  3. Disrupt unhelpful habits and beliefs
  4. Cultivate acceptance
  5. Prioritise energy

Practice being present

One of the biggest challenges we experience in our modern, busy lives is that we’re almost never living in the moment. We multi-task and divide our attention, making it impossible to truly appreciate all the little moments of joy, satisfaction or flow we could experience.

Also part of being present is our ability to bring our attention to the present moment rather than repeatedly jumping to the past or the future. These jumps are so normal, we don’t even realise we’re doing it – driving home while our minds are already at home, thinking about what we need to do…playing with our kids while our minds are thinking about tomorrow’s work project…exploding in anger when our children leave their clothes on the floor as we remember the twenty thousand times we’ve asked them to put their clothes in the laundry basket…

You may think this is too small a thing to play a part in life satisfaction but, really, the ability to command our attention and bring it to the present moment is the foundation on which all satisfactory moments are built.

Practice Reflection

In Wester cultures, we value action over almost everything else but constant action often leads us to pursue goals in ways that lead to stress and burnout or create dissatisfaction when we realise we’ve been striving for something that isn’t really what we want.

Reflection also gives us the chance to learn about ourselves and connect with the signals our mind, body and emotions are sending us.

The more we reflect on our thoughts, feelings and habitual patterns, the more we learn about what works for us and makes us happy versus what stresses us out and makes us unhappy – and with that information, we can make far better choices about how to spend our time, who to spend our time with and where to place our focus and attention so we live each day in a way that feels fulfilling.

Disrupt unhelpful habits and beliefs

Much of what we think and do each day is habitual – some researchers suggest that up to 90% of our thoughts and 42% of our actions are habitual. Some of these habitual patterns serve us really well while others hold us back.

When we’re in pursuit of the “anything is possible”, one of the things we need to be able to do is move beyond the limits of our comfort zone and fears. Doing this requires us to disrupt the patterns created by these limiting thoughts and behaviours – though this is often easier said than done and may require the help of a trained coach or therapist. If you feel that you keep making the same mistakes or living the same pattern over and over, book a call with me and I’ll help you figure out your next steps.

Accept what is and let go of what should be

Big lives come with many responsibilities and demands – and these can be stressful. On top of that, things rarely go the way we want them to go and there is always pain or setbacks along the way.

When we focus on what should / shouldn’t have happened we disempower ourselves and spend valuable time and energy focusing our attention on something that exists only in our minds. A more powerful approach is to accept what is and work forward from there by asking ourselves one question – do I need to take action to deal with this or let go and accept it for what it is?

In some situations, this can be enormously difficult to do but, again, the quality of our life experiences are changed by how much or little we are able to develop this skill.

Prioritise your Energy

No matter what your “anything is possible” life looks like, you need energy to live it.

I see energy as having 3 components:

  1. Amount – How much energy you have
  2. Source – Where you draw your energy from
  3. Quality – How that energy makes you feel

Living an “anything is possible” life requires us to develop lifestyle habits that build our energy and vitality – nourishing food, fresh water, a good sleep routine etc. all make a difference here. Without them, we feel tired and sluggish and everything else gets more difficult from there.

The source of our energy is about the starting point of our motivation to do something – when it comes from a place of “I have to fix this about myself” or any version of “I’m not good enough”, the energy will create problems somewhere down the road in one of two ways.

  1. It will cause stress and likely lead us to falter in our efforts
  2. When we start to get results and start feeling good about ourselves, our motivation can wane.

Reflection helps us identify the source of our energy – and we do that by examining how we feel about what we’re doing. When it feels like one part of us wants something and another part wants something else, it’s a good indication that the energy source is one that’s coming from a place of self-judgement.

It is much easier to achieve goals when the energy powering your efforts is coming from a place of self-love and self-acceptance – so the goal becomes something you’re doing for yourself because you deserve to have that outcome, as opposed to being something you have to do because without it you are unworthy.

Using these practices to live a life of meaning

This may seem like a very odd list of things to include under the title of “Live the life you tell your kids is possible” but my work over the years has shown me that nothing matters more when it comes to life satisfaction than the inner world we cultivate for ourselves.

It’s possible to have everything and feel utterly bereft – and that’s not at all what we want for our kids, yet the world of ‘things’ and status holds so much more of our attention and takes so much more of our time. This episode is my offering to suggest that, while pursuing the ‘things’ and the status, if we also cultivate our inner worlds with these practices, we stand a much better chance of enjoying the spoils of our labour and, where our kids are concerned, is one of the best things we could possibly teach them.

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