Yes… Summer is on its way & with it an onslaught of amazing magazine covers with promises to getting “Flat Abs & Big Arms”, “Making your Sex Life Sizzle”, “Stoping Stress With One Breath” or “Help Make a 100% Memorable First Impressions”.
Propaganda is fantastic… at presenting only one side of an argument, at being partly false & partly true, & even more amazing at being repeated & dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes. That attitude, is making us, the consumer, feel inadequate about being ourselves, instilling an idea that perhaps we could be happier if we had flatter abs, sizzling sex or no stress?
I’ve had washboard abs (past tense) and I’ve had some pretty phenomenal sex. Neither one made me a better person. Neither one completed me or made my life more fulfilling.
We chase this idea of “I will be happy when… ”
I will be happy when I have a new car. I will be happy when I get married. I will be happy when I get a better job. I will be happy when I lose five kilograms & media play on this to get us to buy into some “brands” solution. But what if instead we choose to be happy — right now?
If you’re reading this right now, then your life is pretty fucking awesome.
Not because you have the fastest wifi, or even because you have the latest apple product but rather because of the simple fact that you’re alive! Yes, you’ve had the privilege of some sort of education, you have the awesome opportunity of connecting over the internet & you’re lucky enough to have the time but more so than anything else… you’re alive… and that’s pretty much enough.
I think propaganda is great at making us believe that we’re inadequate but the truth is… we’re not! So here’s my take on how to be you, be here & be awesome… in 10 simple steps!
1. Stop believing your bullshit.
All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14 year olds at heart. We’re all scared. There is no space for your dreams when you live in fear & your own bullshit so give it up… right now!
2. Be happy now.
Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture — but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.
3. Look at the stars.
It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily — it helps.
4. Let people in.
Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.
5. Tell your mom and dad (and everyone else) you love them.
One day you’ll be standing over someone’s grave & realize that life is short… its so damn short & you’ll regret the fact that you didn’t tell that person how much they meant to you. Almost three years later & I still wish that I had one last word with my dad, don’t let that be you. Pick up the phone right now & just say it, just because its true!
6. Put the baggage away.
Here’s the thing… everyone has baggage. Everyone’s been dumped, or lost their jobs or had to face life head on, in the fast lane, with both eyes closed & the world on their shoulders. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E!!! Let it go, stop talking about it. You cannot move forward, if you’re holding on to the past!
7. Dance… especially when no one is watching.
I dance everyday, in the shower, in my car, when I’m happy, when I’m sad. All the time, everyday! It reminds me that my body is awesome, that I have the ability to move even if its not your kinda moves. It reminds me to be comfortable with me & that’s a good thing.
8. Learn to apologise.
Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do (what’s up with that, anyway?). The ability to sincerely apologize — without ever interjecting the word “but” — is an essential skill for living around other human beings. If you are going to be around other people, eventually you will need to apologize. It’s an important practice.
9. Practice gratitude.
Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. If we all learned to be a little more grateful, we’d realise that everything we have is not a given but rather an honour. Gratitude is what makes what we have, enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.
10. Be kind.
Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle. Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the health care system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner. But I can be kind. If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better.
Yes, Summer is on its way & flat abs would be awesome but there’s a hell of a lot more we could be working towards & maybe with a little solid grounding & a lot more love, the happiness you’re searching for, is closer than you think!