“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”
You might be one of those lucky few that have achieved everything you’ve wanted out of life and everything is moving along exactly as you would like it. You are doing what you enjoy for your career, you have a wonderful relationship, you do the activities you want, you look and feel great, everyone wants to be you, and everything just seems “right” in your world. Congratulations! Stop reading this book, it’s not for you.
If you are like the rest of us, keep reading. For most of us, some of the things we wanted out of life have happened and some haven’t. Many things we did not even think about, let alone plan, have happened. We could probably lose a few pounds. We look at others with a bit of envy, wishing we could do what they are doing. We acknowledge things are the way they are in our lives, even if we don’t necessarily like it, but we keep going along.
Perhaps you have been struggling to achieve the perfect American dream, the one your parents and society told you was the way to go—the McMansion in the suburbs, several expensive cars, a beautiful spouse, 2.3 kids, and a dog. Only now you find your mortgage is underwater, gas is expensive, your relationship is falling apart, your kids don’t know you, the dog barks when you come home, and you are having to work 60 hours a week to maintain it all. The full catastrophe, to borrow a phrase.
Or you might think that life has become too complicated. The effort involved in maintaining your lifestyle is no longer worth the benefit, if you can even figure out what the benefits actually are since you’re not sure anymore. You might have all of the trappings of a wonderful American life but you lack the time and energy to enjoy it.
You might have lost your job (or can’t find one) and you are opening your eyes to realization that this yo-yo we call life is not delivering all that was promised. You might not have even liked your job or want the job you were striving so hard to get, but you still have rent and other bills, so you keep at it.
Perhaps you feel like something is simply missing. You might be bored with your life, your situation or just have no real affection for what is happening around you. Nothing seems to excite you or entice you. You are just going through the motions, but not really engaged at any level.
Or maybe you might have simply decided now is the time to change and grow, move on and forward with your life—do something different. You have an itch and are ready to scratch it, but you’re not quite sure were to start.
Whatever your reason, this book will help you discover what it is you want out of life and how to realize your potential. It’s not about achieving fame and fortune. It’s not about wishing yourself a better life, only working 4 hours a week or retiring in ten easy steps. You’re not likely to find the meaning of life in these pages, nor the answers to the profound questions of existence. Instead, this book is about finding your path to being happy and discovering your true self.
How you achieve this happiness really depends on you. I could walk you through all of the steps that I took and tell you about everything that worked for me. The problem with that approach is that what worked for me may not work for you. What’s more, you may not be in the same “place” I was when I decided that I needed to work toward my goal of happiness.
We all approach circumstances and events differently. We have different opinions and ideas about that world. It makes sense, then, that our path is going to be unique. Me preaching and dictating to you about what I think is best for you without knowing your situation will accomplish little. Ultimately, you have to decide that something will work and explore the possibilities yourself..
That’s what this book is about. I provide you with a general framework to guide you along the path. There are truths that apply to all of us whether we chose to accept them or not. What you’ll discover are simple, yet often overlooked or ignored, insights and strategies to help you find your own path, whatever it may be. I help you learn how you ended up where you are, really understand your situation, and discover ways to move forward with the life you want.
I’ve divided this book into three sections. The first section, Harmonize with Reality, is about accepting certain truths. We are forever in the present, not the past or the future. There are some things we control, and many things we don’t. Change is inevitable. Accept these basic truths and you are already way ahead of most other people in achieving true happiness.
Customize Your Environment, the second section, is about understanding the forces that shape and influence our lives. This is your life story—your biography. I discuss ways you can take control of these forces to shape your own life story and you turn it into an autobiography. I will delve into the choices you have that can directly influence your life.
Finally, in Realize Your Potential, I cover what you can do to take ownership of your life in direct and meaningful ways. I get down into the nitty-gritty, discussing practical advice and recommendations for a more engaged life.
A Note About a Few Things
“Men are not prisoners of Fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.
For this book to be useful, we have to get over the idea that there is always one right way and one wrong way. I ask you to keep an open mind, and realize that what works for other, might not work for you, and vice versa. This isn’t some hippy, granola, tree-hugging approach to life. It is about seeing some options that will help you formulate your own approach.
Some of the ideas and suggestions in this book just might not work for you. That is completely fine. Make use of those that do work for you. When they no longer work, discard them. You may agree or disagree with some concepts. That is perfectly fine too. Take what you find useful and leave the rest.
At times you may completely understand and agree with a point, and yet not be able to move forward with it. That’s okay too. Sometimes we’re just not ready. Don’t freak out or berate yourself. Everything in due course. Keep it in mind and come back to it later when you feel you might be ready.
Accept the hard existential fact that if you intend to matter, you have act like you matter. Make the greatest investment… in yourself. As long as you are being honest with yourself that’s what matters. Then, when the time is right, you will be able to do what you want and need.
In the meantime, do what you can with this tools and ideas I present. This is not a zero sum game (it isn’t even a game). You can add and subtract, multiply and divide; whatever you want and whatever works for you. As I mentioned, there is no right or wrong way. Everyone has their own path and must live their own truth. It’s all very subjective and, really, the only person’s whose opinion matters is yours. The tools and ideas I provide will help you find your path and live your truth.
Keep in mind, life is not a race and you are not competing against anyone, not even against yourself. Life is not a dry run for something else—this is it! There is no award when you die. To quote Elbert Hubbard, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.”