If you take the time to really break down what is involved in living the good life, you’ll discover that there are only a few principles that you have to strictly adhere to.
Awareness. Acceptance. Appreciation.
There’s no way around it, if you want to live a joyful life you must become aware of how you currently live your life.
How do you go about your daily operations, what do you think in your head, what actions do you take, how do you respond to external events, etc?
In order to improve your life you need to improve your ability to objectively observe your life.
Think of it like a third party observer within your head, a spectator, one that doesn’t judge harshly or criticize but simply watches, observes and witnesses the movie unrolling of you living your life.
Throughout each day bring attention to what is going on in your mind and mindfully ask if it aligns with the kind of thoughts your ideal self would be thinking. Repeat the process for the way you act and react in social settings with those you care about.
Are you allowing your impulses to steer the wheel and do as they please, or are you carefully considering your options to ensure you select the right one?
We cannot control what happens externally in life (the upcoming pillar), but we have, if we intentionally decide to use it, full control over how we choose to perceive what does happen.
If we make it a habit to view things from a perspective that minimizes negativity and enhances positivity, despite whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, then we are on the path to living the good life.
“It is not external events themselves that cause us distress, but the way in which we think about them, our interpretation of their significance. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” – Epictetus
Similar to the serenity prayer, we have to constantly remind ourselves of what is in our control and what isn’t.
Obsessing over what is out of our hands is a recipe for a miserable existence. And if you become more aware of your daily mental processes and still continue to focus on what is out of your control, then you’re intentionally self sabotaging and preventing yourself from a much happier life.
By shifting our attention to doing our absolute best in regards to the things in our control while simultaneously working to accept the things that we cannot change, we can start to pave a route towards living in a much brighter atmosphere and begin to minimize the perceived pain and suffering we’ve unconsciously and unnecessarily been causing ourselves.
What is in our control:
-being more mindful of our thoughts, actions and responses to external events
-choosing to be kinder to ourselves and others despite the situation
-not believing each and every one of our thoughts to always be accurate
-deciding to no longer dwell on the past or stress about the future but rather live in the present
-accepting that whatever happens externally is out of our hands and that we can choose to live a happy life even through inevitable and difficult times
“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it— not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.” – Marcus Aurelius
We are all going to die.
Some much sooner than others, but the fact still remains that we will depart from this world.
Just think about how many people have passed since you’ve been born, especially those born after you.
Nothing lasts forever, both the good and the bad.
So when the bad times do come, which they will, we can build an impenetrable fortress of gratitude deep within ourselves that enables us to tend to our wounds but still feel immense appreciation for all that still is in our lives.
And when the good times are here, we must make it a habit to focus on fully appreciating them without spending time wishing for what we don’t have.
Epictetus once said that we must take great care with what we have while the world let’s us have it.
We all have a great deal to be thankful for in our lives, so much we were provided with at birth, for free, that we literally couldn’t live without.
If we make it our main objective to live each and every day with appreciation at the top of our mind we will ensure ourselves a fast pass to living the good life.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero