5 truths about life and tools to make it better
Sometimes life can feel really really hard. Here are 5 simple truths about life and the tools to help you navigate the sometimes troubled waters of personal well-being, work-life balance, and relationships. They apply in best times and difficult times.
For more tools to help you on your search for the truth about life, try our Grid productivity resources or watch my Mind and Heart TEDx talk which explains why integrating heart and mind is the keystone of life.
1. Life is actually pretty easy even when it appears hard
The first truth about life: it’s actually pretty easy. Yep. I know you may not agree. You may look around and think you’re struggling, working yourself out and hardly have any time left to enjoy this so-called ‘easy’ life.
- Maybe you’re feeling isolated, disadvantaged, hard-done-by.
- Maybe the person you love let you down, you don’t feel like a top priority and this crushes you to bits.
- Maybe you just lost your job and are worried about how you will ever find another one.
- Maybe you look in a mirror and all you see are your flaws.
- Maybe you have a million other excuses and counterarguments to offer against the above statement.
The truth is that life is actually pretty easy if we let it be so. Most of us have people that love us way more than we give them credit for. People that will give us shelter, food, encouragement, and friendship if we ask for it.
In the rat race for some higher standard of life, maybe the chance to shop in fancier stores, drive a better car, own a larger house, we forgot that what really matters is real human connection.
The idea that at the end of a busy day, we all want to have someone to come home to. Someone to greet us with a warm, generous smile, give us a hug, make supper with us and make us feel like a millionaire.
So, more often than not, it is us who complicate life and make it hard.
2. Success takes smart work and balance
Many people work super long hours. They mistakenly think that working longer will create more success. Data tells us this is simply not true. In fact, many people often feel resentful, angry, frustrated and sad for it on some level especially when they see others not needing to do that.
Not all work is the same. Focused, productive work gets us somewhere. The rest…well… that’s just wasting valuable time that could be spent recovering.
This is especially true of people working for themselves and those who work at home where work-life boundaries are often more blurred. Unlike a regular job which traps people into specific working hours, running your own business or working from home gives you freedom to reimagine what a nurturing working life can look like.
When I work with someone 1:1 we have one rule:
- Choose 1 key activity that takes you towards your success per day.
- Turn that into 1-3 tasks.
- Execute, then STOP!
If there’s a block, name it and get help.Truly effective work is making time count for you, not against you. Then rest, enjoy life, and trust that life will take care of you as well.
Doing more is actually counterproductive!
It keeps you away from the very things that matter: other people and enjoying the present moment.
Overworking keeps you in a box of your own ego or overachiever mindset.
So work smart and then give your life a chance to grow, fill out a bit and delight you. My Grid tool and framework support this balanced approach and help people develop habits to sustain it. A new normal is made that is about results and well-being through balance and self-love.
3. Relationships are the most valuable thing you have
Businesses come and go, as do jobs and wordily possessions but you can never bring back the intimate moments of having quality time with your loved ones. I don’t mean the breakfast mornings where you’re checking your iPhone because you’re addicted to e-mail.
Even in social isolation, the mile long strings of texts we exchange with our friends and loved ones are nothing compared to video calls or traditional telephone.
Not being fully present in anything is a great way to cheat yourself out of life. When you spend time with someone, be there fully. Focus on that person and take in all their wonderful qualities. Their strength, character, personality and love for you. Honour it. And reciprocate it. Include them in your world and connect for real. It may last 5minutes or an entire afternoon. If you’re there in body, choose to be there in your mind as well. If you can’t be there in body, really be there with them in your heart and mind. They deserve that of you.
If you feel time poor then you have work to do. Learn how to change this. And do it fast before people give up on you.
4. Nothing ruins trust like misalignment between action and words
Whatever you say – be consistent. We have all been there.
- People making a promise that they will do something and then letting us down.
- People telling us they had a good time only to slate it later saying they didn’t enjoy it.
- People telling us they love us, and yet watch us suffer and cry or worst never ask how they can help.
Misalignment comes about when we don’t pay enough attention and lack clear priorities in life.
In relationships with others, it will undermine trust and safety. If you’re not sure of how you feel – take time out. Don’t punish the other person with what ultimately is your own work. It’s not fair to both of you. And it can cause unnecessary harm.
- Be honest.
- Be willing to work.
- Be willing to listen and offer help not by fixing things for others but by being there.
I recently overheard a conversation between two women complaining about each other’s partners. I did wonder whether they were really making the most of their time together mutually venting. Surely the best person to talk to about how they each felt were the people not present. There was no win in it for anyone. They were disrespecting their partners, disrespecting one another and disrespecting themselves.
Sad to hear but we have all been there. We’ve all done it. I walked away thankful for being a witness to this important lesson to remind me not to do that.
5. Trust but take appropriate action and learn
Too many people put way too much faith in things just working out. I’m all for positive psychology but we each also need to play our part.
I’m sorry is cheap. It may feel hard to say but in the end, it’s rather empty. If you’re going to say you’re sorry to be prepared to own what you’re sorry for and take responsibility.
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out” says nothing. Did you want it to work out? Or did you sit there watching a slow car crash resigning yourself to some easy out excuse like “it wasn’t meant to work out”, ” it’s way too hard”, “life just doesn’t get me”.
The truth about life is, it gives us many lessons but the key lesson is to pay attention and take responsibility for our actions, feelings and needs.
Decisions in life are actually pretty easy. If we don’t want something we have two choices:
- Let it go because we are 100% sure it was wrong or
- Do work because what’s needed is action.
Sometimes we can do the key work right in the moment. At other times we can only do the right work later. What’s key is that we don’t take the easy ways out all the time and blame others for lack of trust in ourselves.
Willingness to learn is the key to everything.
Learning about yourself and others gives you trust and confidence to face anything. It helps you be the wonderful partner you expect to have one day. It helps you be a better teamplayer, and a better friend. First thought, you need to be such things to yourself.
If nothing else, this little change will leave you with faith that having done all you could. Being honest and real with others and life, you are living on course. You will be surprised by life will appear far easier. Then you will see the wisdom that comes from these words:
accept what is and trust that life gives you what you need most in any moment if you pay attention.
The simplest truth about life: there are tools that can help
Get Productive includes over thirty exercises you can do yourself to help you figure out what you want, to identify where your mind may have fooled you, to help you fix important relationships and to restore balance into your life and deep harmony.
A friend of mine, did one of the exercises entitled Work, Play, Relationship Juice and proudly told me her whole life was about work.
I listened patiently and with love and understanding and wondered, what kind of life would this give her over the next twenty, thirty years and her partner. I grew very sad inside for I truly love and care about this person.
Listening to people’s regrets on their death bed, captured by Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, I wondered about my friend and what Bronnie’s research said the top five regrets were:
- Not having the courage to stand up to other people’s expectations and live the life you wanted.
- Not choosing to work less.
- Not having the courage to say how you truly feel.
- Not making relationships a priority.
- Not allowing/choosing to be happier at every moment instead of saving it up for one day.
I’d add another one. Letting the person that truly loves you walk away which is a likely results of doing the above.
If you or someone you love, and living a life that is on course for regrets, it is your job to make the correction.
It may not be easy to do and you or someone you love may not like hearing it. At first such truths are upsetting. Bonnie’s work may be a good starting point for a life audit.
The true magic in life is to recognize our own needs and attend to them. Sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow but the good news is that it’s never too late. As we work on ourselves and develop our capacity to harness our inner wisdom we make better life-choices.
We all get into poor habits and we all have an amazing power to conquer them when we love ourselves enough to believe we are worth it. I know in my personal life, I can do better with my own work/life balance and so that’s what I’m focusing on now. I have developed a whole system for this called the Grid and I am learning more and more every day. Check out that section of our website. Discover the book and let’s help you make decisions that nurture your mind, make your heart happy, support your body and help you reconnect with your true spirit.