25 May Happiness – take control of your life and direct your own life story
During times of busyness the last thing on your mind is probably your life goals; you are more likely to be concerned with preparing the kids for school, getting to the next meeting or somehow or other negotiating your next challenge; life beyond this point seems like nothing more than pure speculation!
But it’s exactly during these very busy periods that you should try to remind yourself to take the time to invest in your own future. This can be as simple as discovering exactly what you hope your future might hold and so this week I thought I’d provide you with some strategies to help you to create your ideal life story. Once you’ve gained some clarity around this, you can begin to plot more specifically how to get there, or identify significant areas of your life you need to address or change.
1. Letter from the future
Imagine yourself 20 or 30 years from now. You’ve had your ups and downs, good times and bad, but overall life’s been pretty good, and overall you’re happy – satisfied and content with who you are and what you’ve made of life.
Write a letter back to yourself explaining what has most effectively and powerfully created and caused your happiness; reflect on your happiest moments and what the key ingredients were that lead to you feeling good.
Write your letter in as much detail as you can, including as many specific events, interactions, people, thoughts and behaviours as you can.
2. Lesson from the future
Picture yourself at the wise old age of 80 and imagine that this older version of you can speak to the here-and-now you. This 80 year-old you has experienced many challenges and achieved many victories. The 80 year-old you has also experienced many joys and loves and gloriously happy events and situations.
What are the 2-3 most important lessons the future 80 year-old you would tell the here-and-now you?
3. Paint a picture (for the more artistically talented or interested among you).
Don’t worry if you don’t feel you’re very artistically talented, this exercise is not about creating a masterpiece and you certainly won’t be marked or assessed on your competence!
Instead, this activity is about having fun, being creative and approaching the challenge of defining and clarifying your purpose, direction and goals in a different way (because what works for one person doesn’t always work for others).
And it’s about achieving this goal with images rather than words; so if you’re one of those people who thinks in pictures rather than sentences, the aim of this exercise is to draw or paint or create something that in some way (and it really only needs to make sense to you) captures what a great and happy life would look like for you.
4. Create a collage (a modified version of paining a picture)
Collect some old books or magazines. Spend some time looking through the pages of these books and magazines and cut out any and all images that resonate with you, or that you feel in any way represent the life you’d like to live and the goals you’d like to achieve. That is, create a montage of anything that you feel captures an experience or feeling you believe is consistent with you, your happy life, your purpose, direction and values. Put these images together in any way you like to form a collage of what you think a great and happy life would look like. Feel free to add in words or drawings or anything that would enhance the image you’re trying to create – that is, a great and inspirational life.