March 5, 2013
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Post written by Leo Babauta at ZenHabits.com.
And then I took off the minimalist Fivefinger shoes, and ran completely barefoot for half a mile. It was liberating.
Later, I walked for a couple of hours, taking my sandals off for a good part of the walk. Today I walked barefoot once again. There’s a sensation to barefoot walking that is light, free, simple, joyful.
Imagine walking barefoot on thick grass, or cool night sand. These are wonderful sensations that shod walkers cannot enjoy.
Going barefoot, I realized, is a perfect metaphor for my philosophy of life: the barefoot philosophy.
When you go barefoot, you become naked, you simplify, you become a minimalist.
It’s a hard philosophy to explain, because others often judge it as weird, hippy-like (as if that’s bad), unpractical. It’s very practical, and while it may indeed be weird, it’s also beautiful.
It’s the simple life, in a nutshell.
To embrace the Barefoot Philosophy, you don’t actually have to go barefoot. Again, it’s a metaphor for how you might live your life, and these principles can be applied to anything you do.
The above philosophy is fine, and might appeal to some, but what you want is a practical guide, no?
I’m not going to give it to you. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, nor is it desirable to live the life prescribed by someone else. The whole point is to do it on your own, without buying one of my books or doing it exactly as I do.
Live this philosophy, in small bits, and see if you like it. It takes some time to adjust to this approach, but it’s lovely in the end.
Some things to consider and try, though:
Last week while my wife was out of town, I took my daughters ice skating in Old Town and out for sushi. And since they’d been behaving well in Tanya’s absence and generally eating healthy food over the previous few days, I promised them ice cream.
“We love ice cream!” Ella, my 8-year-old, said. “Dad, you’re the best dad ever!”
My children are not alone in their use of superlatives. Sophia, my 5-year-old, often calls me her “best friend ever,” but also says the same thing about Tanya, Ella, and Lola, her stuffed bunny. Ella is equally effusive when she says she had “the best day of her entire life,” or calls a specific food the “best thing she’s ever eaten.” It’s fun to see my kids so enthusiastic.
I’ve noticed, though, that they tend to express those animated characterizations aloud only in certain situations. They don’t cheer wildly when I make fruit salad or convince them to bathe every now and then, even though those things are more beneficial in the long term. As we made our way to the ice cream shop, I wondered: how important are random, unexpected treats to overall happiness?
The meat and potatoes of parenting are in the routines of the daily grind. We make sure our kids sleep, do their homework, eat healthy foods and exercise. We teach them to be responsible, take care of their things and clean up after themselves. In theory, those basics are all they need for survival. There is no biological need for trips to Disneyworld or a triple decker sundae.
But humans don’t exist “in theory” only. Admit it: When you ditch the salad bar in favor of a greasy burger and a few beers, or stay out until 2 a.m. partying with your friends, you feel excited that you indulged. That’s because we crave pleasure, especially when we’re used to doing the sensible thing most of the time.
According to a 2001 article in “Neuroscience,” pleasant surprises lead to “marked stimulation in the brain’s pleasure centers,” which produce chemicals that make us happy. Since happiness tends to lead to more of the same, we would be wise to allow ourselves to be surprised every now and then. The promise and possibilities of rewards help us endure things like preparing our taxes and organizing that filthy garage.
Life success is built on the notion that if you work for five days, you get to play on the other two. Save for retirement every paycheck and you deserve to spend a month’s salary on a nice vacation once in a while. Rewards keep us engaged in the less exciting aspects of our lives, and kids are no exception. In fact, in a population that is constantly watching to make sure we’re paying attention, that kind of reassurance is crucial in their emotional development.
Back at home, I asked Ella if I was the best dad because of the ice cream. “No,” she said, and hugged me. “But it was delicious.”
Andrew Kensley is a writer, physical therapist, husband and father in Fort Collins. He welcomes your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
– by Shimon Edelman, author of The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life, .
By Junice Rockman of Murfreesboro email@example.com.
How many times have you questioned yourself about the way you completed a task, the timing in which you reached a goal or the manner you responded to a situation?
Many of us expend a great deal of thought and energy analyzing our thoughts, decisions and choices in this way. While it is both necessary and important to make small adjustments in our lives along the way, it can be downright exhausting when we find ourselves micromanaging every aspect of our lives in this way.
We each arrived on the planet with an “internal GPS” or “God’s Positioning System” that helps direct our choices and shape our destiny. Some of us call the GPS our conscience, our “gut,” following our heart or our instincts. We all have it, we just have to learn how to hear it and trust what we hear. The more we allow ourselves to trust ourselves, the better we get at it. Learning to follow your heart is like working a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger you get. On the other hand, if you don’t use it, you may eventually lose it.
When we continually evaluate our lives based on a standard of what we could or should have done differently, it hinders us from experiencing abundant happiness because we are constantly second guessing ourselves. In our society we seem to be on a continual quest to fix ourselves instead of learning to love and be ourselves.
We create a set of “must” or things that must happen in our lives in order to be happy and fulfilled. While standards are essential to having a quality life, having unrealistic “musts” in our lives is counter productive. Instead we need to set a standard of “musts” that are inspiring, realistic and attainable in our lives.
As we continually evolve and make changes, we can still love ourselves and our lives in the process. As we relinquish the need for perfection we move away from striving to be perfect and instead strive to become the best version of ourselves.
‘Tyranny of shoulds’
Karen Horney, an ego psychologist, created the theory of the “Tyranny of the Shoulds.” The theory basically expresses the idea that people are often so negative toward themselves because they feel that they “should” have met a certain set of goals in their life. Her goal was to get people past the tyranny, accept themselves and define healthy ways to make changes and evolve over time.
Contact Junice Rockman of Murfreesboro firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Be happy without reason. If you are happy with a reason, that reason may be taken away from you, and you’ll lose your joy. If you are happy without reason, nobody can take your happiness away.” – Dalai Lama
It’s a vicious cycle. Spend our days (our lives) at a job where we most likely feel we’re not living our purpose. Come home too wiped out to get to work on our purpose, or volunteer, or study, or work on our spiritual growth, or make some kind of difference in the world… come home too wiped out to experience true connection with our loved ones (um, no wonder the divorce rate is so high! Couples don’t communicate after a long day’s work — they’d rather just veg in front of the TV and have a drink).
We come home and see ads on TV for things we should buy to make us feel better about ourselves. So we wake up the next morning with the thought that at least we’re making money to buy that new outfit which will make us look good. But then we get the outfit, and guess what? We may feel good for the first few wearings but then that feeling goes away. So we seek something else. And the cycle continues. Because nothing external will ever be able to truly make us feel good about ourselves.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work. That’s not the issue… I love hard work. I encourage hard work. There’s nothing better than the feeling when you work your butt off, overcome challenges, and really accomplish something. I’ve pulled all-nighters, worked 24 hours for a deadline, and man, it felt amazing. Working hard to accomplish something is one of the things that DOES make us feel good about ourselves because it gives us pride.
So not working isn’t the issue. The issue is the way we work. The issue is why we work. Unfortunately, I have gotten caught lately on the hamster wheel, and it doesn’t feel good. I have to make a change. To me, this is not a way to live. I don’t want to work to live. I want to LIVE. I want to come home and experience true connection with my man, and have real conversations and laughs with my friends at happy hour or on the phone, and talk to my mom about her day and share with her my day. THAT’S what life is about — connection. People. Relationships. Don’t let your job ruin that. A job is just a job — it’s not our life, regardless of what anyone else, society, or the media may tell you. A job allows us to live, yes, and for that we are grateful. But it doesn’t need to dictate our mental state and the quality of relationships in our life.
But how do we change what’s so solidly put in motion? I really wish I had an answer. I sometimes think as a whole, we might be too far gone. I think the answer lies with each person individually — how badly each person wants a change, how far each person is willing to think outside the box, how much each person is willing to believe that things CAN change, how much each person can shift their perspective and priority. Because maybe all you are capable of doing right now is to shift your perspective. It is tough. It is a battle. There may be opposition or scrutiny. But if you know in your heart and gut how you want to live your life, then you’ll figure out a way to stop letting your job dictate your life… and start really living it.
Follow Holly Sidell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HollySidell