Living your dream Obstacles to happiness

Struggeling to find out what you want to give to the world? This question can help (it certainly helped me)

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Deep down, you know there is something special you want to contribute with to this world. But somehow it’s hard to get clear around it. After all, there are so many things wrong around us –  war, poverty, pollution, injustices… – and so little each one of us can do to change anything. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and shut down. Also it’s easy to question the value of the things we actually can and want to do. Self doubt and fear of being judged are no easy companions here… So how DO you find out what could be your special gift?

Personally I got a lot of help from participating in the Momentum challenge in fall 2013. At the time I was busy re-working this site and getting the Jam Kitchen ready to go after my parental leave. The mission for the first day was to answer this question:

“Imagine you’ll die in a year.

What’s one gift you’d like to leave behind to the world when you’re gone?”

The answer that came up for me was the following:

“I would like to leave behind something to inspire and empower people to find and pursue their true interests and passions, even if it collides with their self image based on family history, age, gender etc.”

I  willingly admit it’s a bit fluffy, but remember, this is only the first step in the process!

The mission for the second day was find out your deepest reasons for wanting to share that gift with the world and to turn that into a manifesto. This kept me busy for quite some time. The first versions didn´t make me much wiser, but after giving it some thought things started to get clearer. I´m not sure this follows the definition of a manifesto, but here we go.

If you wonder why I´m running this site, here is my answer:

Q: Why do I want to inspire and empower people to find and pursue their true interests and passions, even if it collides with their self image based on family history, age, gender etc.?

 A: “Almost for as long as I can remember, I wanted to save the world. As a teenager I dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, working in poor countries and saving lives. I also tried to start a peace movement to end the Cold War, since during the 80´s, when I grew up, the threat of a nuclear war as an every-day reality. Later I came to work with Fair Trade and organic food, finding consumer´s power as a way to make the world a better place.

Most of the time I would feel some kind of guilt for being so privileged, being born in this part of the world where food on the table, freedom of speech and even peace (once the Soviet Union broke down and the Cold War had ended) where things we just could take for granted. And when I wasn´t completely happy (which, to be honest, was most of the time) I would scold down on myself, thinking I had no reason to complain.

But slowly I came to realize that I wasn´t as free and privileged as I thought I was – and when I looked around, I noticed that almost everyone seemed to be stuck in some kind of prison. I saw all the „good girls“ (of which I was one) who where so terrified to cause trouble that they never would say no, always trying to fix other peoples problems and putting their own needs last. I saw the „hard workers“ (yes, that was me too) who tried to prove that they where worthy by showing off how amazingly competent they where.

We, the free people of the rich west/north, were at war with our bodies, and kept ourselves in mental prison for the crime of not looking like a super model or action hero. We told ourselves we couldn´t be happy, just because we couldn´t afford to buy as much „stuff“ as our neighbor, or go on as exclusive vacations trips. We would work like slaves around the clock to get money to pay our expensive cars, flats, clothes etc. and hardly have time to meet our friends or family. And, worst of all, we were so afraid of „other people“ judging us for being „strange“ or „irresponsible“ that we would go on trying to live like „everybody else“ in spite of hating it! It was all like „The Emperor´s new clothes“ : No-one (or at least very few) where happy, but also no-one dared to say anything.

For me, the end of the game came sudden: Too many years of not being able to listen to my real needs led to a major burn out, forcing me to leave more or less everything I ever believed behind. Today, this is one of the things I´m most grateful for in my life. I got a chance to re-think and change my way of living before it was too late.

Since then I´ve had more than 12 years of (mostly) happy and exciting living, exploring new interests and trying new roads. I still get caught by old fears and doubts once in a while, but I´ve found ways to cope with them and on the whole I feel very free and in peace.

I still get upset from all the unfairness going on in our world, destroying our environment and leaving so many people in material poverty, and I do what I can every day to contribute to a change, using my consumer power and freedom of speech. But I´m just one person, and the problem is gigantic. But what I found that I actually CAN do, every day, to make this world a better place, is to inspire my former fellow prisoners of „Rich-land Prison“ to start claiming the freedom to live a life on their own terms.

No matter what your parents, your boss or your spouse might say, it´s right here in front of you, within the reach of your fingertips. The only thing stopping you from getting it is a strong bond to a heavy load of incorrect beliefs that you are carrying with you. It´s not your fault that it´s there – most of us inherited it already as very small children. And getting rid of it is not a quick fix. But with patience and the right tools it´s possible to weaken the bond, thread by thread, until it´s no longer strong enough to hold you back.

On my way, I´ve found a lot of such tools, and that is what I want to share with you. Some are really small and easy changes, other are big and might be difficult – but don´t worry, we´ll take one step at the time! I also found a lot of people who are living a life on their own terms right now, and I want to share their inspiring stories. If they (and I) could do it, so can you!

There are many ways to save the world. I start with MORE HAPPINESS. Where do you start?

 Does this mean that I´m telling you to start being irresponsible? Certainly not. What I came to believe, through own hard earned experience, is that there is nothing more responsible than to pay attention to your own needs (well, as long as it doesn´t hurt someone else, that is, but there is a widespread misunderstanding about what that means too, that I want to correct.). Making the world a happier place starts with caring for the person closest to you, which means YOU and not your spouse/child/parent. Only when you feel happy can you care for others in a sound way. Besides, NOT caring for yourself is dangerous. I had to spend TWO YEARS on sick leave, to recover from that burnout. Sure, I came out wiser on the other side, but that´s still nothing I wish for anyone else to experience.

I still want to save the world, and I hope you will join me! If possible also by acting responsible towards our planet and fellow humans (for example by trying that fair trade coffee or driving less car), but most of all towards yourself, by starting to make those changes that will create more freedom and happiness in your life – one small step at the time. “

OK, that was it. I just realized I didn´t mention much about the tools you can use, but from now on, I will write some blogposts focus on questioning common believes/disbelieves about how you´re “supposed to” live your life – and showing on some alternative mindsets.

 Now I´m curious to find out what you find is holding you back from living the life you really want – or if you found a great trick you would like to share with the rest of us 🙂 Commentbox is right below, and yes, you can be anonymos if you like.

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Thank´s for being here 🙂 Ann-Sofi