A few weeks back I was at an appointment waiting to be called next. I looked to my left & I saw a newspaper – the Wall Street Journal. As I flipped through it something caught my eye. It was an image of a man & a woman totally enthralled with one another in a blissful state. The man was reclining on a cloud made of stuff; tennis rackets, wine glasses, classical instruments, elegant accessories, overnight case, golf clubs, champagne flutes, skis, etc. The advertisement had two tag-lines: Element of Well-being / For a Better You.
My immediate reaction was a long sigh. Was the viewer supposed to think that this cloud of materialistic stuff & a vacation stay in a hotel would bring them bliss? I feel so tired of the marketing that is pushed down people’s throats. All day everyday everywhere we look we are being marketed to. The idea of “this thing” or “this look” or “this place” is what you need to feel great, to feel happy, to feel whole. Most of us know that none of those things bring lasting happiness, yet we are sold that idea over & over again – & we buy it!
Everyone talks about a vacation or a lifestyle that they desire. Most of us hate some part of the way we look as well, comparing ourselves to others & feeling like some aspect of ourselves is inadequate. Or it can be the other way around, we think that the way someone else looks or lives isn’t good enough for us. Who taught us that? Where did we get our standards from? What did we pattern ourselves & our lives after? Why is it that our life is the way it is? Did we fully create it? Or did we allow society to greatly influence our decisions & views.
If you lived alone on an island, would you be worrying about the same things you desire or stress about today? Would you want the same job you currently have? Take a close look at your life & ask yourself, “If I lived alone & I never or rarely saw people, what would I be passionate about, what would matter most to me? What would my life be & look like?”
Would you need a vacation? Would you be working as hard as you do? What would matter to you? More stuff? Faster car? Bigger income? Smoother skin? An academic degree? …Or something freely available & priceless like love. I think we could say that love would be the most important thing, yet we don’t see that or act like that in our day-to-day lives, & every money-driven corporation & business wants to keep it that way.
There is a Betty Shine e-book that I found on the internet called The Infinite Mind. It had a fantastic exercise that brought light to this topic. She guides us to take a good look at ourselves & see what our lives are really about. Most of us can say, “I’m not totally money-driven, I don’t spend all day chasing stuff, I care about love” but, when we take a closer look, our lives don’t show that.
Try it out for yourself. I’ll post the Betty Shine exercise for you. Let me know how it goes & what you think. I know it looks long, but trust me, it goes fast & it’ll be an eye-opener for you as it was for me.
The first step in reclaiming your life is to arm yourself with an notebook and pen. Don’t use a pencil, you may be tempted to rub something out. When you have acquired these items, begin the analytical process by underlining the heading, which will be MATERIALISM.
List everything you have bought in the past twelve months, apart from the usual day-to-day goods that we all have to buy, on the left-hand side of the page. If you wish to take your time and be specific, this may take several days. When you have finished, return to the top of the page and, on the right-hand side, write against each item how many hours you or your partner have had to work to acquire it.
When you have finished both lists, start a new page and write down the heading LOST TIME, LOST LIFE and underline it. Then put down everything you would have liked to have done, either with your partner or with friends and family, if you had not been working so hard for your acquisitions.
At this point I will remind you why I asked you not to use a pencil. This is because pencil can be erased, and the words you may wish to erase could, if studied carefully, be the turning point in your life. Look at them and ask yourself how and why they have appeared on the page. Why do you want to erase them? Do they disturb you? If so, then you must look at why they are creating a disturbance. After all, the words are only there because you put them there. They could be the something that you have been deliberately ignoring because you could not face up to the consequences, or they could be meaningless at present but a warning sign for the future. They may even be positive words that foretell a happy, healthy future. Whatever they are, ignore them at your peril, because they are a form of clairvoyance, of ‘clear sight’.
Now turn to a new page, write down the heading AILMENTS, and underline it. Then list all the ailments you have suffered during the past twelve months. Ask your family and friends how they would sum up your general health during those months. It is quite normal for us to try to block out the unpleasant things in our lives, especially illnesses, and others may help give you a clearer picture.
Study all the exercises over a period of a week or more. Do not rush this stage. Take your time. Only when you have made an honest assessment of everything you have written down can you turn a new page.
On your new page draw several horizontal lines across the paper, leaving at least two inches below each line. It is important to note that what you put underneath these lines will affect your future life. Write STRESS on the top line – it represents how much stress and ill health you are prepared to suffer for the type of lifestyle you have at the moment. Ask yourself whether you can honestly sustain it, knowing the full facts, because if you cannot, you know that your immune system and your mental health will suffer. Put down YES or NO on the line. If the answer is YES, you will know that you have given a lot of thought to the answer and that you are in control of your life. However, it would still be in your best interest to read on, to find out what your future may hold.
If the answer is NO, then decide which material possessions you could do without so that you can enjoy more stress-free hours with your family and friends. Write them down in the space below the line…
Yay! I’m so glad you made it through steps 1 through 5 & gave it a try. If you want to view the full exercise click here, & if you would like a copy of the e-book that that I found the exercise in, click here.