I read an article recently that spoke about living your best life. It encouraged thought and reflection of the now, raised questions in recognising and achieving our true potential, and acknowledged that our comparing to others and their journeys, as well the fear of failing, is often the reason that holds us back from our possible. Old news really. The article closed with an invite to a 2-day seminar in learning how to live your best life, led by those that were supposedly nailing the game, that is – life.
The pitch was a mashup of cliché references that we’ve often heard before. It romanticised remote working environments (yes, productive days away from the office are a wonderful existence), questioned the readers’ contentment with the 9-5 grind, spoke about living in nature and being your own boss, and so on. Admittedly, it was a pretty solid sales performance. For me, it resonated with some of the things that I enjoy and my ideals of how I would like to work. And, had I had a spare 1500 dollars to afford myself 48 hours in learning how to better live ‘my best life’ (plus the associated fees that come with traveling to Toronto for the spiel), I may have just signed up. But I don’t, and I’m pretty damn OK with that.
Which brings me to this entry. Because, as I thought about the basis of this workshop some more, I became a little disappointed in the concept, as well myself, for having entertained the idea. At what stage did someone(s) or society decide that we were not all living our best lives, the best way we know how with all (or less) that life and our individual contexts can afford us? What happened throughout the ages that we now require a paid guide-book of such that can help correct our journey(s) and better place us in the right direction for an enhanced existence. When does the pressure end?
I recently met a friend on the beautiful island of Sardinia. Isn’t Europe wonderful like that. 2 hours in the air, and I’m just casually in Italy. Anyway, like myself, she’s a sensitive soul and perhaps thinks too much. As well, cares a little more than required for what society will (or will not) say of what she does and does not do. I’m fairly certain that we’re not at all alone in this. Point being, she wanted to train in Yoga in India, foremost, for the benefit or her own enjoyment and personal development. On completion of the course, sharing her learnings with others’ would be a gift that may, or may not eventuate. Right now, that isn’t important; however importantly, this is for her. It was interesting, though not shocking to learn that her idea to professionally train in this ancient-old art form with experts in its founding country just sat idle for some time due to it sounding too cliché. For me, it seemed an incredible opportunity to spend hours doing something one enjoys, free of distractions from the ever consuming outside world. Bliss.
Again, this got me thinking (long hours in airports, etc. – there is a lot of time to contemplate whilst travelling…). How many times have we done, or not done something because of how it would be perceived by others? Admittedly for myself, quite some. And what’s ironic, is that our thoughts of the matter were entirely contrasting. Silly really. But, we do the best we can, in the context that is, with the tools and knowhow that’s within in our reach.
One thing that travelling continues to teach, is the incredible diversity in this world, and the ways in which various cultures operate (and flourish) in their ways of life. Having been fortunate to venture across oceans on many occasions, in my experience, it seems those countries that appear to ‘have less’ so to speak, or have experienced/are experiencing hardship and adversity, actually have so much more. Foremost, their kindness toward others, resourcefulness and contentment with their circumstances is admirable. For some of these communities, they live their best life and survive with much less than most of us would ever know how. One of my favourite travel memories for example, is hiking through the Accursed Mountains in the far north west of Albania. Aside from the picturesque views, the ways in which these tiny remote villages live off the land, maximise opportunities, and their approach to ‘slow living’ is just incredible. They work hard with what is available to them, – the beauty of their surroundings, embrace simplicity, welcome tourists into their homes, and they are happy.
And so, on further reflection of this article, together with many conversations had and a series of life lessons; I’m not sure the appropriate question (or workshop for that matter) is how to live better lives. Rather, how can we slow down, get back to basics and appreciate the present? To be grateful for the here and now, for all that we have or do not have.
If life on the road has taught me anything of worth (and it surely has), it’s that days are better spent with others, doing what you love. It’s not about the clothes on your back, the success of your online existence, job titles and social status or the figures assigned to your bank account; rather, it’s the impression you leave on others, the ability to give back, and to be truly you. For me, travelling is something that I love. These past 4 months have been a whirlwind of incredible learnings and experiences, beautiful cultures and communities, personal growth, challenges and adventure. Is it my best life? I’m not sure, I’m still writing the pages. But it’s the now and I’m happy. And I think that’s the basis for all we need.