Confucious said “Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated”. This is more true today than ever in our busy, hectic lives. We are surrounded by the things we buy, from the money we earn, to go buy the things, and so on. Happiness seems in short supply, it’s become a goal instead of a way of being.
True happiness comes from the peace in simply being who you are, and allowing that in others. You came into this life with traits, talents and desires; it’s in being that person, the inner you, that you will find true joy and happiness.
In previous posts I’ve written about how to discover the real you within, stripping back the unhelpful layers or beliefs we’ve adopted about ourselves and allowing the real you to emerge. In the process of doing this myself, it’s struck me time and again that simplicity in every aspect of life is so key to our wellbeing.
I remember arriving in my new home in New Zealand, or Aotearoa, in August of 2006. For years I’d worked, owned property and paid bills. Here I was, cashed up, no immediate worries about generating an income, no house, no bills; simplicity. As I walked along the beach one day it struck me how liberated I felt. I could do anything, be anything.
I also realised that is always true. Sure, many times you may have been in a job or a relationship where the road to happiness was a little more complicated, but it’s always achievable. You can do and be anything, any time you choose. It had been well over a year since I’d made that decision to move, but in that time I was moving towards what I wanted.
Unfortunately I thought all I wanted, or needed, to be happy was to change the country I was living in. The weather had a great impact on how I felt each day and I was a 3 hour drive in any direction from a decent body of water, something I’ve always yearned to be near. I felt if I was living a similar life in a nicer place then all would be well. So there I was in a new place, feeling liberated, and life was full of possibilities. In time, there was a new relationship, a new house, a new job, and still I wasn’t happy.
Then I thought it was all about having children, and then I thought I needed to change jobs, something less political. As I began to raise my beautiful children, I realised that one of the core parental beliefs I held was to allow my children to be who they are, protect them from becoming someone they are not. Finally, I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to discover who I really am.
As I was walking through the neighbourhood the other day, it also occurred to me that the closer anything is to its true nature, the better it is for us. I’ve written much about this in terms of people being true to our own nature, but it really applies to everything that surrounds us – everything we touch, consume and enjoy.
Having spent years trying to start a family, my partner came home one day and gave me the number of a naturopath that a client of his had recommended. I rolled my eyes and sighed, great, I just knew the recommendation would be a healthy diet and supplements.
Often we are looking for the quickest, easiest option, when we should really be looking for the simplest. Yes, the naturopath did recommend a healthy diet. He talked out the gloopy nature of the complex carbohydrates I was eating and simply pointed out that no self respecting fetus was going to want to grow in that kind of environment.
Not particularly scientific, though the science bit was explained, but this is what I summed it up as in my mind. So I got myself motivated and gave the diet a whirl. The basic principle was to eat food that is in it’s natural state – so definitely nothing with refined sugar or flour. Great results, that year we had our first daughter.
I used to often refer to this when teaching people about change management. Most companies tend to put in a new system or process and think that will solve all their problems, ignoring the people change at huge cost. There’s nothing particularly complicated about people change, but it does require effort. Effort requires cost, investment, and that is where it falls over. The same for us as individuals.
In this hectic, fast-paced world we are looking for the quickest, easiest, answers. Instant gratification. This usually results in a longer spell of misery. The degree of misery that tips you over into action will be different for each of you, and will depend on what aspect of your life it’s affecting. But when it comes to your overall happiness and wellbeing, being yourself - the person you were born to be - is always the simplest path.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/45823378@N07/4745425727">Mila at the beach</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
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