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Freehand Life

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Feeling the Happiness Spectrum

September 14, 2013

What is happiness? There are dozens of definitions and interpretations from your family, Webster Dictionary, your local religious leader, or coffee house philosopher. Happiness is not one absolute.  Happiness is not a string of arbitrary, self-centric examples or a list of self-referencing synonyms.

Think of happiness as a spectrum.   Happiness is like the color spectrum.  It’s a range that melds and transforms as much as people wax and wane over their lifetime.

Let’s begin with a Baseline Wipe to reboot popular opinions.

Joy: often confused with happiness.

Happiness: the most commonly sought idea around the world, but often mangled in its obtainment.

Contentment: an under discussed concept, yet offers the most lasting strength.

Now, let’s apply the fresh Happiness Spectrum. The Happiness Spectrum has two simple guides: time and impact to relationships.

The Happiness Spectrum

 Joy: a good feeling lasting a few minutes or hours that mainly pertains to you individually.  Joy occurs the most frequently in a day: a beautiful sunset passes, your favorite song plays, or getting new shoes.

Happiness: a positive emotional state lasting a few months or years that involves a handful of key people in your life.  You’re no longer alone in your action and the impact amps up in terms of commitments to important people in your life.  Getting into your top college, landing that crucial job, or rearing a family with your love are examples with more complexity.  There may be hard work, expenses or broken hearts with several people, while you figure out this elusive state called “happiness” that other thin, rich people with straight white teeth have so easily.

The thrill of achieving these “important life milestones” wears off after a few months when you realize that you must continue to sustain and grow these delicate matters for an extended time. Thus, this is a common time when people have a radical mid-life crisis potentially involving divorce, a lifestyle makeover, or self-awakening. Whose dream are you really chasing and why is it worth it… hmm…?

You may go on a spiritual quest or see a professional counselor to realize that happiness is not an end state, but a continuous journey.  This happiness process takes bloody work through constant change that I cannot control 100%!

Wait a Twitter minute.  It turns out that everyone is making it up as they go along.  Holy moly! This is actually quite liberating.  This means that you can define, work, and share your happiness values within your own microcosm.   Forrest Gump was happy mowing the high school lawn, jogging, and being a single parent.

Contentment: takes place when one achieves the acceptance of either having or not having the desired thing.  The amazing thing is that contentment can occur within you, with a few people, or with many people over any time period of life.  Where is the cross-cultural dialog on contentment?

No, contentment is not settling, selling out, or not having an opinion.  Rather, contentment is when one confronts the 360-degress of a subject and makes peace with any result.  It’s the “I’ll be fine no matter what” resolution.  We break down the mind tricks we play on ourselves and finally unlock those emotional handcuffs by just letting go.

Release.

Reexamine.

Regrow.

In summary: Your dog excitedly greeting you brings joy, yet taking care of him for years brings both of you happiness, which you’re content to outlive him.

A person flows and morphs in between joy, happiness, and contentment like a lava lamp.  It’s mesmerizing to watch.  Moreover, we just know it when we feel it, regardless of a definition.

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Where Are You, My Resonance?

November 25, 2012

You.Here.Always.

November 17, 2012 1 Comment

Life Summarized in a Mathematical Hypothesis

November 11, 2012

Conjecture Translation

Hypothesis:

Life does not equal only that 1 end-all/ be-all job, person, or whatever “win.”

Life is actually just renting time.

Therefore,

Multiply the amount of fun you’re having and remember to also give back a greater good for others.

Regardless, keep pushing forward infinitely.

Conjecture Expounded

Relax.

Life isn’t only about achieving that one important job, dream person, or crucial win. Work hard for personal/professional goals, of course. Yet, what will you do when you have nothing else to prove to yourself or your social/familial network? How big is that sales deal or how critical is it to have that kitchen back splash tile imported from Italian quarries? All of the material accumulation, university credentials, and relationship realities do not define you completely.

News flash: we don’t actually own anything or anyone.

Nope.

It does not really matter whether you’re living in a villa/shed or drive a luxury/junk car. Sure, have a standard minimum, but there’s no need to obsess. Someone else has likely relentlessly pursued that.

What will you really accept as your own Return on Investment (ROI)?

You can’t have 100% of that lover/friend/spouse/parent through 6 weeks or 60 years of a relationship either. Our unpredictable hearts cannot be contained. A lot of our “crazy” actions are actually driven by a steady current of subconscious emotions, poised to explode like a deluge while your logical mind has no idea what’s coming…

Yep.

Pause to ponder this: All of life’s “critical” trials and triumphs reduce down to renting time. We are all borrowing approximately 80 years from Eternity as a gift. There are no guarantees, returns, or exchanges. Time is life’s only currency.

So, what are you going to do if we’re all just renting time on this wild ride? Shifting from living to renting re-frames my framework of urgency.

There is no need to get your panty/knickers knotted in an existential crisis.

Tune into your built in, internal compass.

You already have abundance around you.

Care.

Build/Rebuild.

Let Go/Fight For It.

Just keep persisting and pushing forward, no matter what.

No one has all the answers, which means you’re free to define what works for you. Everyone is fighting for his or her own happiness/joy/contentment at end of each day.

Remember: life is designed to be enjoyed.

Go forth. Give back.

Do well. Be well.

What Will I ___ Today?

October 21, 2012

Haiku Funday #1

October 7, 2012

Highly recommend the awesome Type-Writer app from Doormouse Manufacturing. Complete with the ding, non-erase, & social gallery!

Strength du Jour

September 20, 2012

Wailea, Maui-September 2012

Ingredients for a Radical Sabbatical

August 29, 2012 1 Comment

Are you burned out?  Has your non-stop schedule run you ragged? Have you been working sooo hard, for sooo long?

Although America’s upcoming Labor Day on September 3, 2012 celebrates the hard worker by creating one national day of rest, this writer dares the tired and the weak to go further by a taking radical sabbatical.

A sabbatical is taking a break from your usual grind to simply do whatever your whims inspire.  Travel!  Sit by the lake and meditate.  Go work on an oyster farm. Volunteer in Tibet.

No, you don’t have to be rich.  Yes, you can resume the “real world” of school and a standard job again.  Yes, you can take a sabbatical with your kids.  Some companies like Intel have a formal program where employees can receive 8 weeks of a paid sabbatical after 7 years of full time employment.  University professors take sabbaticals as part of their professional development to deeply research and learn another area of study.  Many Europeans take a gap year in between university, a popular practice originating the United Kingdom since the 196o’s.

Just ponder how much money people around the world spend on counseling and anti-depressant drugs to merely keep up in this hyper-connected world.  Compare this cost to boldly embracing a sabbatical to deeply rejuvenate in any way you please.

It was easy in the Middle Ages when most peasants passed away by their thirties.  With the average American life span now at 79.4 years, that’s a lot of hustling through school/promotions/openings/launches/kids, etc.

After fortunately indulging in two sabbaticals, below is my recipe for whipping up your own Radical Sabbatical.

Radical Sabbatical

Serves 1 or many

You will need:

  • 1 Adventurous Spirit
  • 1 Open Mind
  • 1 Grateful Heart
  • 1-3 goals
  • 1 Rough Outline/Plan
  • A chunk of savings

Preparation: Quiet and Rouse

Quiet your fears (ying).  Rev up that innate adventurous spirit (yang).  Remember when everything was possible as a kid vs. everything becoming a “trade off” as an adult?   Dig deep into your inner strength.  You should certainly assess the risks, but this can be a time to make a change based more on the opportunities.

Goal Creation: Commit and Document

Fully commit and document 1-3, attainable goals for your break.  Goals are important for sabbaticals for one’s self-accountability and continued alignment to any bigger, long-term life goals.  What will you be proud of at the end of the sabbatical? Is it to unplug? Perhaps it’s an educational sabbatical to learn something.  To work at your dream business or apprentice for a complete new field?  Wipe away those cob webs in the recess of your mind, and reintroduce yourself to hibernating dreams.

I combined travel and educational goals for both sabbaticals for 4 months internationally and 7 months domestically.

Piggy Bank: Determine and Build

Figure out the necessary financial enablement cash rate (ECR) for yourself or any other Sabbatical Side Kicks.  How will your lifestyle change as you need to save up for the sabbatical or how you will live during the break? Build in buffer money for emergencies or that last minute train ride on the opposite track.

Outline: Whisk Together

Combine your goals with the ECR into one outline, sprinkled with logistics and a schedule.   Adjust for transportation and lodgings for local, national, or international travel.   The land, air, and sea can be your playground!  Imagine enjoying a Vermont farm, Mexican hacienda, Tuscan studio, or Thai bungalow on the beach.  No, you don’t have to replicate Eat Pray Love to trek across three countries in about one year.

If you have kids at an appropriate age, schedule the sabbatical during their school break (summer or year-round). The unglamorous “Life Administration” is part of standard responsibilities.   Setup online bill payments.  Adjust insurance to your new needs.  Turn your static, plan-as a-noun into a constant verb by planning. Depending on your level of control needed, create an outline for an overall structure at a minimum.  Let go and leave the unimportant details to serendipity. Simplify.

Fortify: Sail Forth

Fortify your determined verve!  Your mind, heart, and finances are now organized.  Things will change, but you can figure it out along the way.  Just ask.  Wave a hearty “Tootles!” to your current work/school/constant commitment(s).  Don’t burn bridges.  Know your rights and have a clear understanding of your commitments to the institution, if applicable.  One of my prior employers allowed unpaid sabbaticals for up to 12 months, while people still maintained employee status.  Your true friends will still be there when you return and you’ll certainly make new friends or lovers.

One of my favorite quotes is

Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.

Nothing is guaranteed on sabbaticals.  What is certain, however, is that your purposeful break from the blah routine will reinvigorate your senses in new ways never imagined.  Whether it is one month or one year, you won’t notice the difference until you’ve stepped away from the old environment for an extended period of time.  Write. Draw. Bike. Cook.  Sleep. Do as many things opposite to your old life.

Epiphanies and escapades will pop up like gophers.  Allow your heart to be enveloped by gratitude.  The transformation is like a flower finally being allowed to unfurl into its full grandeur.  That’s not so radical after all, is it?  Sabbaticals are simply natural.

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July 4, 2012