The lifestyle of the average American has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. Today, it is nearly unfathomable to think of life without a telephone let alone a smart phone, or life without central air or heat, no closet space, no in home toilets or bathtubs, the list could go on and on. Today, the average home contains 300,000 items and nearly 1/3 of households can fit only one car in their garage with the other space allocated to extra storage. Believe it or not, Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches then on education. We love our things and we always want more of them.
Having It All Is Having Nothing At All
The problem is that we somehow think that the accumulation of things will have no impact on our happiness and well being. Unfortunately, science has proven this assumption wrong. We live in a culture that believes in the lie that to be American is to “have it all.” In the pursuit of having it all, we wake up in the morning uttering with eyes still sealed shut, “I did not get enough sleep” and hit our pillow at the end of the day in disappointed fashion shamefully confessing that we did not get enough done. When we cross paths with friends and colleagues, we hurriedly ask how they are doing, and we are greeted with the equally hurried response, “busy.” Busy has become an emotion and a badge of honor. Who knows what would happen if we used some other adjective like, “well,” “great”, “loving all my free time.” I would assume glances of confusion and judgment would ensue. The irony of those judgmental glances would be the judgment that you are the one with no life when in fact your response is the foundation of a life well lived.
The Busy Life vs. The Creative Life
The essential life is about intentionally and forcefully pulling yourself out of the busy cycle and into the creative cycle as you cannot be both busy and creative simultaneously. Have you ever wondered why some of your best ideas come in the shower or while in bed sleeping? The mind is finally (and rarely) in a state of rest, and rest is the food for creativity. The essential life is a life focused on what matters most, responsibly delegating, deferring or dropping everything else.
Sometimes the very infrastructure of a building is so incompatible with the renovation needs that a complete demolition is warranted. Unfortunately, the American psychological infrastructure is fundamentally incompatible with the pursuit of an essential life so demolition is needed. We must take the time to take inventory of our current energy and time expenditures, being prepared to strip nearly all things that are not worth our energy or our time. When we have completed this difficult task, we are then ready to take the time to realign ourselves by determining what matters most through goal setting. Finally, to ensure we remain committed to the most important pursuits of our life, which often times are the most difficult, we must safeguard our firm commitments by facing the demons in our lives that prevent us from taking the proper risks which bring about our most gratifying achievements.
Over the course of the next four weeks, we are going to pave a new way of approaching life, by removing the old cracked road of energy drain, overloaded time-commitments, and the false beliefs about ourselves that keep us from personal fulfillment. We will then pave a much smoother and simpler road that provides clear direction and that is aligned with our passions and gifts.
So, join me next Wednesday (if you don’t want to miss out then make sure you join my newsletter below so you can get all this great content directly in your inbox) as I expose one of the most detrimental American lies about the human psyche, and the top five most energy draining activities in which we engage every day (and how to stop them) which resulted from this lie.