On Monday we did a talk at the Electric - Soho House - in London all about 'How to stay happy and grounded in a fast-paced life'. It's a HUGE topic that we dedicated a whole podcast to recently - listen to it here.
And ever since we did the talk I've been thinking back to a blog post that I wrote six years ago that served as a powerful wake up call at a time when I was running a million miles an hour, taking on waaaay too much and living off a constantly caffeinated and adrenalised high, while underneath it all I was exhausted and unhappy.
The blog post was my way of grabbing myself by the shoulders, gently shaking me with love and saying 'Why are you doing this to yourself?!'.
Why was I pushing myself so hard? Noone was asking me to do that, so why did I feel that I should? Who was I doing it all for? Was I expecting to get some kind of prize at the end of it all?
Finally as I lay one night collapsed on my sofa, in full blown burn out, I scribbled out this blog post and drew this little postcard.
It marked a turning point for me and I've never forgotten the message I gave myself that day.
So if you have a tendency to push yourself too hard, take on too much, put other people's needs ahead of your own and forget to prioritise the things in life that make you truly happy, then have a read of this.
This message is for you too.
"Imagine if, when you die, it turns out that there IS a heaven and a pair of pearly gates. And when you get there, standing there is god himself looking down at you. You're in the spot light.
You're waiting for the big judgement, the ultimate test, hoping desperately that you did OK, that you did enough, that you were good enough, helped enough people, weren't too selfish, weren't too mean.
You stand there fingers crossed as he flicks through the portfolio of your life and then he smiles and asks calmly,
'So did you enjoy it?'
'Because that's all we wanted. For you to enjoy your time on earth, enjoy the experience of being alive, discover what made you come alive, what made you happy and spend your life doing that...that was what it was all about'.
Imagine after all that striving and hard work, it turns out that the best thing you could possibly have done for yourself, the people around you and the earth as a whole, was to discover what makes you come alive, follow your heart and spend your time on earth doing that. Imagine that.
I like this game. Try it. Day dream the scene for a moment (no requirement to believe in god for this to work), the moment where you are told that the whole point of this game called life was to create and live a life you love because THAT above all is what the world needs.
What would your reaction be? Play it out.
Here's how my scene pans out.
I'd stand for a moment agog. And then I wouldn't be able to hold back.
"Seriously?! Was that all I had to do?! Why didn't anyone tell me!? Why did I listen to all those people saying that I should be doing this and that?! Why didn't you send some kind of message?!"
I think god would probably look back agog at me.
"What do you mean I didn't tell you?!" I imagine god saying back somewhat indignantly, if gods are allowed to be indignant.
"You had that fridge magnet up for twenty years saying 'don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and then go and do that, because what the world needs is people that have come alive', you built a whole career around that message. So you did know"
If heaven had rocks, I'd be kicking them by now.
"Yeah, but I wasn't sure if that was really allowed - enjoying life so much, having such a good time. Why didn't you just tell everyone it was allowed and that we ALL had a choice and it wasn't just that I was 'lucky' but it was simply that I chose to make it happen. You could have helped me out"
I imagine myself bursting into hot tears of frustration. Thinking back to all those hours, days, years spent doing what I thought I 'should' rather than what made me happy, what made me feel alive. All those years standing in my own way, all that time feeling guilty for having a life I loved, trying to make up for it, apologising for it, feeling guilty for it.
I'd want to go back in time and show myself this scene, send it to myself like a picture on a postcard.
I'd tell myself to stop feeling guilty about having a life I love, but instead to celebrate it and enjoy it. To get comfortable with it, embrace it, relax into it. That this is allowed. That everyone has the choice to create a life out of the stuff they love and that just because not everyone chooses to do that doesn't mean you have to feel guilty about doing it yourself. Don't create a life you love and then not allow yourself to enjoy it. THAT is bonkers. I'd say do even more of it. Have even more adventures. Dance, laugh, paint, love out loud. And celebrate the whole lot of it. The glorious experience of being alive and being you.
I'd tell myself to join hands with all the others out there creating lives out of the stuff they love and celebrating it. I'd tell myself to full on party with them, keep that party expanding and the door open to anyone that wants to join, but not to worry if people don't choose to. Let them be.
So my question to you today is...what would you do?
What if we were to find out that that IS what we're here to do - to enjoy life, really experience it, follow our hearts, do what makes us come alive? What if you were told that your job on this earth was to make YOU happy, discovering and doing the things you love?
What would you do differently?
Click reply to let me know."
And so, six years later, let's get this conversation going again. Let us know, by leaving a comment below, what you would do differently if your whole purpose on earth was simply to ENJOY yourself and all that life has to offer. And let this be the start, like it was for me six years ago, that you begin to make YOU a top priority in your life.
P.S. If you know someone who also has a tendency to put other people's needs before their own and run themselves into the ground with it, then forward this onto them too ;)