Interesting vs. Happy: Which Life do You Want?
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I received an email recently from a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.
She asked, “So what’s new in your life?”
Oddly, an emotion I couldn’t identify with or name right away washed over me. It was neither warm nor positive and it took me a minute, but then I got it!
The emotion was shame. I felt ashamed because the truth was that there was nothing new in my life!
But here’s the irony of it all. I’ve worked long and hard to create a life that although not busy, is absolutely full to the brim with a handful of activities I’ve identified to be the building blocks of my own bespoke, conscious and purposeful life.
Friends and family who have known me for decades and who are reading or listening to this are smiling because they know that my past default tendencies were to create constant newness, drama, and unexpected situations. I called it being spontaneous, and it was fun when I was 18 but not so much at 38.
You see, what I really suffered from was what I call poverty of commitment. Doesn’t spontaneous sound so much better?
The “spontaneous” me would have been able to answer my friend’s question by sharing all the new and exciting things in my life — stories, drama and frankly lots of judgment and criticism of others as well as life. But now instead, by design and more focus than most people realize, I have gradually but powerfully expanded my commitment capacity to levels I could not have imagined a decade ago.
Intentionally, I am committed to making deposits in only the four life buckets I have chosen as mine — Parenting, Coaching, Health and Relationships.
I have redefined my definition of the good life. Whereas in the past, the good life meant waking up to surprises every day, checking the temperature of my feelings and then deciding what I want or don’t want to do, I now don’t welcome or create surprises and acknowledge my emotions as messengers, not dictators of my life.
My reference has shifted completely such that I now see a good life simply as a compilation of “good days”. And a good day is doing some version of the same four things — parenting, coaching, taking care of my health and strengthening my relationships each day.
And yet, I felt ashamed at the prospect of responding to my friend's innocent and mundane question, “What’s new in your life?” with the truthful response which would have been, “Nothing.”
As I process this feeling and acknowledge my need to explain to her that I’m not boring or a loser… that I’ve created this life dynamic intentionally… I realize it’s myself I’m trying to convince or prove a point to. It’s me, albeit a younger and more colorful version whose judgment makes me wince.
It’s the old (young) me who is still, even today, trying to sell me on spontaneity as a carte blanche for being impulsive, moody and unfocused. It tells me, “Have some fun! You only live once.”
You know what’s fun? Putting my head on my pillow at night knowing that everything I did, said, and created was important, impactful and meaningful to me. And a good day is a day when I can respond to the question,
“What’s new in your life?” with…
“Nothing! Thank you for asking.”