God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference
– Reinhold Niebuhr
This week, I was asked by one of my clients about the formula for a successful, healthy and happy life, but as much as I wanted to give him the formula, I could not.
“But Ronit, you are a life coach. Why not?” he asked.
“Because my formula is mine”, I said.
“What do you mean yours? Are you saying you don’t want to share it with me?” he asked.
“Of course I want to share it with you, but I don’t believe it’s transferable”, I replied.
“Why not?” he kept asking.
“Because every person has his or her own formula with a unique signature that cannot be duplicated. Because no two people experience the same things, not even in the same situation”, I explained.
“So what is life coaching for?” he asked.
“It is a way of helping you on your personal journey to find your own formula”, I said.
Everyone wants to be successful, healthy and happy. If you examine every desire in life, it falls under one of the categories above. When we get up in the morning, the drive to get to somewhere, whether it is an achievement, a feeling or a state, is the essence of life. We want to get to our destination quickly and easily and formulas can help greatly. When we want success, we want to get it fast, without much effort and with as low a price as possible, so if someone could show us the way there, life would be much easier. When we want a feeling, we want to feel it now and without any heartache or doubt. If we only knew how to trigger the feelings we want and turn off the one we do not, life would be an awesome adventure. When we want to be healthy, we want to take a pill and make all the pain and sickness disappear. The harder life is, the more we wish for the easy life formula.
The quest for a successful, healthy and happy life starts very early, although our definition of that life changes with every new experience and change of circumstances. Unfortunately, so does the formula.
I would say that if you examined your desires every three month, you would find new spins on every definition every time. To illustrate this point, think of what you thought success was in primary school or in high school and how different it is from the way you define success today. I always say that the birth of my first daughter changed many definitions for me regarding success, happiness and even health.
Living on the two sides of the fence called life
People are divided into two groups – the ones that live life aimlessly, surviving from one day to the next, and those who look for the formula and wish to direct their efforts towards a chosen destination, rather than get up in the morning and find themselves in a place they do not like.
The first group adopts an “aimless (go with the flow) life style” and the second group a “planned (or purposeful) life style”. Many people think that going with the flow and taking things as they come is everyone lives, until they suffer pain that is too hard to bear. Others think that everybody plans their life, until they must acknowledge things beyond their control and with their wisdom comes calmness and acceptance.
I can relate to both. I remember myself treating my health aimlessly until my daughter got very sick and I changed. I also remember during my own coaching giving up control over areas that concern other people. I used a different formula for each of these experiences.
There is a lot of freedom and joy in aimless living. It involves fewer worries and more acceptance. You get your paycheck, spend it as you like and who cares about tomorrow. After all, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present”.
Those who prefer to plan might look over the fence and frown, but is there really one side that is better than the other? I think not.
For the people who flow, planned living is too rigid and too frustrating, full of people who try to predict the future and live an illusion of a connection between what they do today and what will happen tomorrow. But for planners, certainty is the currency of life and they believe they can avoid pain most of the time and that is better than flowing and getting hit hard.
Everywhere, we head personal development gurus telling us to set goals and focus on desires. They say that desires are the engine of moving forward. They tell us, “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark”, but is there really one side that is better than the other? I think not.
People on both sides of the fence live life and do the only things they think they know how to do – justify their choices! They say, “My side is the right side and the best side”. I believe a lot of heartache, wars, conflicts, relationship breakdowns and pain exist in the world because people are too focused on justifying their own lifestyle and pushing away other choices. We spend lots of energy shouting to the other side, “My choices are better than yours”. Even religious wars are based on “God loves me more. My beliefs are better than yours”. Are they really?!
I believe that living on either side of the fence is not a problem until you try to convince those on the other side that your side is better. Aimless living is cool, as long as you consider it best for YOU! Planned living is great, as long as you consider it best for YOU!
Because formulas for living well are not transferable. They are personal. You do not need statistics to feel better with your aimless or planned choice and it does not matter if there are more people on your side of the fence or on the other side. The only thing that matters is that wherever you are, you can be successful, healthy and happy by your own definition. If you spend most of your energy on convincing others you are “right”, it defeats the purpose of getting to your destination quickly and easily.
In different areas of life, we probably sit on different sides of different fences and, whether we are on one side or the other, we choose the side we think will give us what we are looking for.
My client asked me about my formula. Now, I share my life philosophy freely with anyone who would like to hear. I even share it with people I have never met, through the many posts I have published, but I have to make it clear – it is mine and mine alone and it is not meant to be copied, because it just will not work for you as it does for me. My experience is meant to be used as a tool to help you find your own life formula, which will be the best for you, regardless of the side of the fence you choose.
Until next time, good luck on your quest for the formula,