We all want to live unique lives that resonate with our true nature. But what if we don’t know (yet) what that true nature is? Last week (click HERE for the post), I spoke to you about the importance of listening to our inner compass no matter what the others think. I recently experienced how difficult it can be to follow your own path, even when no one understands. The decision to quit art school was so intense and so difficult for me, but looking back at it now, there were only two things that made it so difficult:
1. It didn’t seem a logical decision: it didn’t follow up logically how I had planned my life before.
2. It wasn’t the most socially acceptable decision: most people didn’t really understand why I suddenly decided to quit.
These two ideas are the biggest obstacles when it comes to making big choices in life. And I have to agree, often when things aren’t logical nor acceptable, you probably shouldn’t do them. But sometimes, these weird ideas are actually the things that bring you further. So how do we know what to do and when? It’s all about listening deeply and thinking clearly. Let me show you how.
START WITH EFFORTLESS JOY: “Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 341 – 207 B.C)
The Greek philosopher Epicurus was one of the famous philosophers of the late antiquity. His fame was probably caused by his great interest in a subject we’re all (still) intrigued by: How to be(come) happy?
According to Epicurus, happiness can only be achieved when we avoid pain and other negative feelings and enhance feelings of pleasure instead. Everything we do, Epicurus said, is ultimately to gain pleasure for ourselves. I know this sounds a bit like doing whatever (unhealthy) you like to satisfy your desires, but Epicurus didn’t want to promote a hedonistic lifestyle at all. On the contrary, he actually wanted us to live a simpler life. In order to gain pleasure, Epicurus reasoned that we have to do something with our desires. We can either strive to fulfil them (otherwise we’ll get frustrated by our unfulfilled wishes) or we can try to eliminate our desire so we can feel at rest again. Epicurus preferred the second strategy, because if we minimise our desires, it will become way more easy to fulfil them.
PRIORITISE: FOCUS GENERATES FREEDOM.
So how can we narrow down our desires? How do we know which dreams we should keep and which ones we can better let go? Epicurus distinguished three types of desires:
1. Natural and necessary desires: food, health, shelter, love, freedom, etc.
2. Natural but non-necessary desires: a pretty home, enough money that we have no need to worry much about our finances, tasty food, a job we like, etc.
3. Unnatural and non-necessary desires: power, enormous wealth, fame, immortality, etc.
Of course, we should never let go of first category, the natural and necessary desires. But for the second two categories, a little more minimalistic approach could actually help us to make us a bit happier. Epicurus thought we should definitely let go of the desires in the third category because these desires can never be fulfilled. If we desire to be wealthy, we’ll always desire for more and more money and never get fulfilled. When we fear death (and unconsciously desire immortality) we’ll always stay sad and fearful because death is inevitable. Don’t strive for the unrealistic, because you’ll never be satisfied.
“Nothing is enough for the man who thinks enough is too little.” Epicurus
Narrow down and look deeper, your inner compass knows where you need to focus on.
I’ve created a worksheet (for members only) so you can explore what your inner compass really wants and what desires are underlying your wishes. If you’re not a member yet, you can click HERE to activate your free membership of Allaban and you’ll receive this five-steps to your authentic self-worksheet.
Following your own life path, without being held back by fear and criticism is always difficult. Knowing what you really want, requires you to think and reflect. Do I really want to do this? Time after time you’ll have to get back to you. To your idea of what is good. To what you think needs to be done. This isn’t egoism or hedonism, on the contrary, this is trying to make the world a better place, starting by no one but yourself. Define your idea of good and become devoted to it.
Don’t follow the rest. Don’t do what seems logical but do what seems best for you.
Pleasure is everything.
“Wisdom starts with wonder” as said by Socrates. This week, my hometown totally looked like a genuine winter wonderland. Little things can make us so happy and Epicurus would probably totally agree. Enjoy the little things this week: keep it small and simple and the pleasure will be GREAT.
PS. You might have noticed my little spelling error in the illustration at the top of the page (minimalise and maximalise instead of minimise and maximize). I’m sorry for that, but I’ve decided not to desire for perfect spelling and go for the imperfect pleasure of life instead! XX
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Free of charge and full of joy, for you.
Free of charge and full of joy, for you.