hat does living mean to you? Are you living simply to survive? Are you living for fulfillment beyond basic needs? Are you building a legacy? Living doesn’t live on some linear idea as we’re all complex and varying in our ways. Much of the way we live is influenced by what we’ve learned, continue to learn and will learn as we take in life one day, hour, minute and second at a time. Living can sometimes look like overall contentment and joy, hustling and exhaustion, or pain depending on our individual circumstances.
Then that leads to the question of whether we’re thriving? Perhaps you’re excelling in a job you love, are with the ideal mate, have the ideal home and on the surface everything feels right. Many would look at a life like that and agree that this person is thriving. Meanwhile, the person with this picturesque lifestyle may feel something is missing. Some people fall into positions they’re good at or comfortable in, but their hypothetical upscale life doesn’t offer them solace. What this means is that this person is lacking an abundance of meaningful and purposeful action in their life.
This begs the question, what is abundance? Is it stability in your career, finances, mental and emotional state? Is it practicing self-care, having self-love and having self-worth? Absolutely, because to experience these things provides balance and homeostasis. Spoken from yours truly, “Don’t be an air taker-upper” or simply put- live your life with intention, fulfilling it with the things that make you feel balanced. To understand this notion even better, let’s rewind and look at why we often live our lives on autopilot content with what’s been deemed ideal.
There is currently a 4-part docuseries called “Hacking Your Mind” hosted by journalist Jacob Ward on PBS (See the trailer here). Ward discusses human behavior, psychology of influence, and why we tend to exhibit the same behaviors repeatedly. One of the things he touched on is how we live and operate in autopilot and what was concluded is that given the many decisions we are faced with daily, our brains create shortcuts or heuristics that allow us to use less brain power to make the same decisions we make everyday, like our route home. Meanwhile, when something unexpected happens in our day- we’re forced to slow our brains and make new decisions we have to really think about. That’s why we often feel exhausted after speaking with an unhappy customer or sitting through a surprise meeting. Given this explanation, we actually live in autopilot to preserve our energy for the unexpected, which can seem mundane if what we’re doing in autopilot is not rewarding.
Now living in autopilot is not a bad thing. Obviously our brains do it for a reason. However, what has shaped the norms of our society that put us into autopilot in the first place? What’s meant is, why do people work jobs they hate? Buy homes and cars that put them into severe debt? And have relationships with people they don’t like or respect? Professor of Psychology Robert B. Cialdini explains it best in his books Influence and Pre-Suasion, stating that there are 6 principles of persuasion. We like to believe that we make decisions based on knowing all the information, but in actuality many of our decisions are based on reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus. We won’t dive into each right now, but consensus alone is reason enough as to why we believe certain things will make us happy and why we do everything in our power to mimic the lives of people who seem happy. However, we must take a step back and evaluate ourselves.
What 2020 has brought to the surface publicly is very clear, but what has it brought to the surface personally? How have you lived through the many challenges of 2020? Is it with optimism and hope for your future, near and far? With eyes wide open and vigor to pursue new possibilities and reshape your norms? With patriotism and the realization that this is your home? 2020 pulled the rug from under us, taking us out of autopilot and forced us to think slowly and thoughtfully about what matters. From that- many of us are thriving, having put into motion goals we never intended to achieve until we gave ourselves permission to accept that life isn’t solely what society says it should be. We are thriving because we changed our mindset, meditated and manifested a new reality. And in that thriving, we felt fulfilled because we were living our purpose in truth and authenticity with gratitude in our hearts.
Motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, talks about “Finding Your Why” on TedTalk and how when you live in your why- you never live a day without purpose. He does this in comparing the success of Apple against other tech companies at the time, by drawing what he calls “The Golden Circle”. In that circle, exactly in the middle is “Why” - but people tend to work inward coming across their “Why” later instead of working outward with the energy of their “Why” to begin with.
You’re probably asking why does all of this science and expert opinion matter when it comes to living, thriving and abundance? The short answer is, it only matters as much as you think it matters. It’s ultimately up to you to decide how you want to spend your energy and if your life is fulfilling and whether you're willing to put in the work to make it fulfilling. If you can think of areas in your life that could be better to you, then you’ve already recognized and acknowledged that there’s room for change and upgrading.
With that being said, we always have to leave you lovely people with ways you can get started. Upgrade your life by trying something new, like improving your space at home, eating foods that heal your body and energy, or trying new socialization techniques. For your home, consider using the KonMari method made by professional and famed organizer, Marie Kondo. The Konmari method is meant to help you sort through the things that spark joy and remove the things that do not. We recommend you start with your clothes. Next, check out this vegan chef Rachel Ama serving up simple, delicious, nutrient filled dishes that anyone can enjoy! And lastly, as we enter the cooler months of the year- rethink and reimagine socializing by virtually gathering friends for Jackbox Games, hosting a movie trivia night using google hangouts and google forms, or playing Dungeons & Dragons through website DnDBeyond.com.
Finally, we encourage you to live your life with purpose so that you thrive effortlessly and end your days feeling abundant. Pause, recognize and analyze how you’re living and ask if this is what you want and don’t be influenced by what makes other people happy, if you know it won’t make you happy. Get uncomfortable breaking out of autopilot and slowly process your decisions when they mean big changes. You’re living in one of history’s most trying times, so think about what you have learned and how your values have changed. You’re an “adaption boss” and a badass. Not an “air taker-upper”.