Does life have a natural rhythm?
Is it possible to express our creative energies whilst meeting our basics living needs?
Can we find a truly happy balance?
Since allowing myself some time away from the sphere of the working world, I have experimented with a new life philosophy – one which observes both pacing and patience.
We live in a culture where immediate gratification is possible. We can turn on a tap and clean water will flow into our hands. We can drive up to a window and be given a freshly made burger in less than a minute. We even condense our entertainment into bite-sized packages and rarely have the will to endure thirty seconds of advertising. In developed societies, long gone are the days where we must suffer for our gains, walk miles for fresh water, or overcome an obstacle to catch a meal.
Earth’s natural resources have been monetised to such an extent that we understand the price of everything but not the value. We quantify achievement in terms of money gained versus time inputted, and if it requires minimal effort then we quickly settle. Many find this lifestyle deeply unfulfilling, and it is no wonder that there is an ever-growing epidemic of depression. We have lost our sense of appreciation, of what it means to earn something. Our pacing is all out of sync. We have become impatient creatures.
So, what happens when you are determined to make it on your own?
My decision to take up a career in writing was a brave (and some say foolish) one, and because the process is long and difficult, I have had to re-programme the way I think about my expectations and cultivate an appetite for patience. I have had to tell the reward centres in my brain that I may not get the pudding right away.
I have also been forced to redefine my concept of what it means to be successful. Unfortunately, the primary distinction of success in modern society is who makes money and who doesn’t. Money makes the world go round and whether we agree with it or not we have to play the game to survive. But does it all come down to the amount of money we have in the bank, the number of holidays we go on, or the type of car we drive? Or is success the ability to say that we are truly happy regardless of these ‘things’?
Much depends on the individual’s character, however, I have come to realise that most people have two ‘selves’. For simplicity, I will call them the relaxed self and the professional self.
Our relaxed self is our true self, the person we are behind closed doors, free of external pressures, who enjoys the things we enjoy – it may be watching movies, playing computer games, cooking meals for loved ones, walking in the countryside, or writing novels.
Our professional self is our ‘money-making’ self, the suited-up person who earns a wage. For many of us, these two are separate individuals. Not all of us can be movie stars or million-pound-a-month athletes. Often we must grind away in our professional lives to pay for our relaxed lives.
So, I wondered, is there a way to establish a connection between my relaxed self (the one that can enjoy the things I love most and lead the lifestyle I wish to lead) and my professional self (the one that earns money and pays for my relaxed self to exist). Can we each do something we enjoy and earn money at the same time? We often sacrifice one for the other, by ‘falling into’ careers that we don’t care about deeply but enable us to pay the bills. Call me an idealist, but I believe everyone can merge these separate identities as one self – we each have an undiscovered vocation utilising skills that not only service the community but compliment the relaxed self.
For those who haven’t yet discovered theirs, this will require a leap into the unknown, but if you do, you can rediscover a commodity that I touched upon in my previous blog – Time.
The way we treat time is a shame. So many of us spend the majority of their life sitting in offices, doing things we don’t enjoy as we count away the hours. We watch the numbers drip slowly from the clock face, as we will ourselves towards the end of the day when we can finally escape. We fritter away the hours – subconsciously resenting our precious time on Earth – our finite number of moments before we shuffle off this mortal coil. But it’s possible to see time in a completely new light, through a lens which isn’t clouded by our professional selves. We can reclaim our respect for time.
To demonstrate what I mean, I ask the following…
How long does it take you to enjoy a meal?
How many hours a day do you spend in nature?
How many hours of sleep a day should you be getting?
When I lived without my professional self for six months the answers to all these questions changed dramatically. I was able to glimpse the natural rhythm of life – one that my relaxed self can adopt when left to its own devices. I was able to tap into life’s pace and view it with a fresh perspective.
When that first Monday morning came I was able to stay in bed, guilt-free, whilst the rest of the world crawled into the shower, injected themselves with caffeine, and hit the road alongside other grey-faced professional selves – commencing their impatient countdown to the end of the day when they could reassume their relaxed selves.
That is not to say I didn’t work during this time. Admittedly, I wore pyjamas all day every day for a week until I had adjusted to the writer’s life, but once I did I found that I could write more productively. I worked when I wanted to work. I had time to flesh our creative ideas and I began writing at all hours of the day and night. With a new, more naturally-paced existence I also had the time for the things that had remained hidden in the shadow of my professional self. I found myself mountain-biking, catching up on some reading, or doing at-home yoga during the week whilst, in an alternate dimension, I was sat at my desk, trapped for the day by my regimented, professional self. By observing the natural rhythm of life, I learned to pace myself in a healthier way. I began to plan how I can permanently merge my relaxed self with my professional self and find a happy balance. Hint: the nine-to-five lifestyle doesn’t always allow for this!
It is foolish to expect quick results for anything worth changing. If you want to be healthier, you have to change your diet. If you want to lose weight, you have to go to the gym. If you want to be happier, then you must practice being happy. The good news is that if change is desired then it can happen, and the philosophy can be applied to anything. Acknowledge your misery, identify your desires, and practice the change to bring about your new way of life. If you act with patience, then it will happen.
Patience is knowing you desire change and actively working towards it. Patience means no longer watching the clock hands. Patience is the process whereby dreams become reality.
Unlike the immediacy of our consumer-oriented society, dreams cannot be paid for in one day. And except those who were born a genius, you don’t become a virtuoso guitar player overnight. Long-term goals are achieved through hard work, practice, and patience. We must honour the natural unfolding of events and give credence to all the highs and lows experience has to offer before we earn our rewards.
My two selves aren’t completely merged yet. It’s a long road, the end of which may take a long time to come into view, but I know that if I want happiness then I must honour the natural rhythm of life to find it.
After all, you don’t write a masterpiece on your first draft.
Are you happy with the pace of your life? Reply below!
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