2023 February 21 Some tips for a more satisfying life

Feb 21, 2023

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website for and about re-imagining your life. Thanks for joining me tonight for a quick side trip into some guidelines for life. If you like what you hear tonight, please leave a like and tell your friends and send me a message.


Last week we went into some depth about how our beliefs form our identity and how, by changing our beliefs, we can actually change who we are. It was all pretty neat stuff, but it was also a pretty long and pretty packed episode. I was going to continue along that same subject line this week, but some things happened at a couple of social events the past few days that I wanted to mention. While absolute age, your actual calendar year age, plays a factor in a couple of the situations, in pretty much all the cases, it was the perception of aging more than anything else that seemed to contribute to these limiting beliefs.


We'll talk more about limiting beliefs in a couple of episodes, but for now, we can summarize them as beliefs that we formed that may have seemed useful or appropriate at some point, but no longer serve as well. So in no particular order, these are some of the attitudes or beliefs that are presented to me by others over the past few days.


Most were just demonstrated by actions, but the underlying belief was very present. First, we've been speaking about this often. Now is a good time to identify your real life purpose and laser focus on what matters to you. This is true at every point in your life, no matter what your age is. Life has a way of slipping by with little meaningful progress if we don't keep track of what we want to accomplish.


This starts with defining what is important to us. What is our purpose in life? When we age, we may want to redefine our purpose, but at every point in our life, we need to know what our purpose really is. Whether or not we acknowledge it, we're going to live based upon our self-defined purpose, so it makes sense to really think about it and make sure that we're comfortable with how we're living.


This was triggered by some early 40-somethings, by the way, so it's true throughout life. Most of our context up to this point has been as a function of aging, but every period of life you go through the same thing. Be aware of what your life purpose is and really live into it. Make sure that you're comfortable with it.


For us older folks and related to our life purpose, we all really have to define what retirement means to us. I've heard everything from literally doing absolutely nothing to trying to do all the same things you did when you were 35. I look at retirement somewhat differently. I view it as a potential opportunity to only work at jobs that I enjoy, and to have enough time to fulfill some of my other life passions.


It'll be different for everybody, but if you don't have a plan or a goal, you probably won't be very satisfied, because you'll never really know if you get there. Two big points to remember about aging and retirement are: you don't have to stop doing everything, or anything, for that matter. You can be as active as your health allows you, but remember and respect the changes that come with aging to avoid disappointment. I have a friend who's nearly 90, and he still skis every winter. He says he doesn't ski like he used to, but he still pushes hard for his age, and he feels great for it. More importantly, he doesn't wish for the good old days. He's comfortable in how he's living his life now.


Next, no matter what your age, you should always continue to invest in yourself. This has many aspects. It could be skills, education, health, wellness, hobbies, friends, group activities. These and many more are all investments in your own wellbeing and you should never stop.  Life is never done until you stop doing, and never be ashamed or bashful about trying to improve yourself or to follow your vision.


Particularly if you happen to have some unconfident friends, they may tease or criticize you if you try and improve your situation in some way. Ignore the criticism. (Consider getting more supportive friends, of course.) Then just go full speed ahead with making your own life better.


You should always strive to be the best version of yourself, and do all that you are capable of doing. There's nothing worse as we age, or at any point in life, of having regrets over things we wish we had tried but did not. 


There's a wonderful quote from Ramit Sadie. He has a book on taking control of your finances. It’s really targeting a younger audience, but he has some really good quotes. He's a wonderful speaker. I’ve followed him for many years. But the quote is, “Spend extravagantly on things that you love, and cut mercilessly on things that you don't.” To hear him tell it live is actually pretty instructive and quite entertaining, but it essentially means exactly what it says. 


However, there's a large hidden foundation upon which it's built. Things that you may not love could be things that they say you should do or have, like a fancy car, designer clothes, a house in the islands. Who knows what it is. Whereas, what you truly love may not be at all fashionable. Maybe it's owning some mules, racing vintage cars, collecting old LP records, or spending your time helping others. Helping others in need to get the skills to get ahead - people talk about it often, not fashionable though. 


Doing and spending money on what is considered required or fashionable probably will bring you no real joy if it isn't aligned with your own life purpose and your own goals. So ride your mule in your beat-up Walmart jeans while listening to old LP records, if that's what brings you joy and meaning, but live your life to your own meaning and your own purpose. 


Finally, the next two are super important. We've talked about them before, but the degree to which they seem to occur in casual conversation is really startling when you start to look. First break the habit of negative self-talk, especially as you age. Although it's true at any age, it's easy to start focusing on what you didn't do, and overlook what you did do; to look at all the characteristics you don't have and miss the nice qualities that you do have.


The list goes on and on. Negative self-talk is incredibly self-destructive. Not only does this set the stage for a very, very bad self-fulfilling prophecy, but also confirms all those bad beliefs that then influence your very identity. Remember last week and the week before, we talked about how beliefs become an automation, and then once they're there hardwired into your brain, they try to propagate themselves. It's hard to change beliefs, and so they want to make everything fit the mold of that belief. If one of your beliefs is that you're not very smart, or you don't speak well, or you can't do math, or you're no good at dancing, or you'll never learn a language - the list is endless. 


One of those beliefs gets stuck in your brain, then your brain's going to look for every opportunity to show that that's the case. Oh, remember you were talking at that club, and you messed up your speech. You knew you couldn't speak. Well, I don't know why you're doing that speech, and it forgets you actually spoke for 45 minutes flawlessly. People were applauding and laughing and they're having a good time.


It'll focus on that one event. Get rid of the negative self. It's a very hard habit to break, but try and catch yourself every time you talk down to yourself. Either rephrase it to acknowledge the balancing good part of whatever just happened. Well, I got half the dishes washed and put away. Or at least recognize that you're doing negative self-talk, and start to think of other ways to look at the situation for the next time it happens.


This is especially hard if we hold ourselves to the standard that the only good enough is perfect.  Rarely is perfect attained at anything. So when we spend our whole lives in self-criticism of these fantastic outcomes that weren't quite perfect, even if we're the only one who realized that was the one teeny flaw, we really make our life very unfulfilling. So, no negative self-talk! Don't hold yourself to a perfect outcome. We're all human. We all do the best we can. Be pleased with that. 


Closely related to negative self-talk is to stop focusing on everything that you can't do and start focusing on where you've improved and gained new skills. If you've been good about investing in your own self, then you'll likely have some or maybe possibly many areas of improvement. Sure you may have gotten worse at some things, but really, do you want to relive those old days of manual labor as a 20 something year old or be pleased with how much you accomplished after you started your own construction business?


We all grow through life. There are good parts in the early part of life, but there have been good times throughout our whole life. Don't focus on those really long ago ones and ignore all the other wonderful things that have happened in the interim. As we often say, you can't control life, but you can control your reaction to it. We make our own reality, and we can either be happy or disappointed with the same situation, simply by how we choose to frame it. 

One bonus tip, related to investing in yourself, is to try to learn something new today or this week at every opportunity, even if you initially didn't think it would be interesting.


A lot of things seem uninteresting because we either didn't know much about them or what we thought we knew was wrong. The world is filled with amazing things. Learn to enjoy them. Well, this is probably not quite as quick as I wanted, it went a little bit longer, but I think it's important to go over this list every now and again.


Many of us get into this self-perpetuating funk when something doesn't go as well as we wanted. We don't have to get stuck there. We just have to be aware of what's going on and to work and change our mindset and our approach. As I mentioned, this is all being assembled into an introductory introductory course, Your Future Transformed, which will cover all this in much greater depth.


So that's it for the evening. Don’t forget this link: UKR7.com. It’s a webpage that has links to places where you can donate to Ukraine.  If you're able and interested, please consider donating. They definitely need help. The World Central Kitchen is there, too. WCK.org


I mention that often. If you are of the mindset that you want to do only humanitarian aid, that's all they do. They provide food to the people in need. The bombing continues in Ukraine. Please remember, the best way to care for yourself is to care for others.


So if you can and you're able, please check it out. Please try and make some donations if you are able to. Thank you very, very much for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along, and please hit that like button. If not please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear.


Have a great week. Remember to live the life that you dream of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you.

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