Being consistently sick makes you question a lot of things.

Why am I always ill? What’s making me this way and can I change it? Often the answers are not obvious. This leads to frustration and stress and thus, the cycle is born!

Now bear with me as I mangle a Dalai Llama quote. At the end of one of my daily meditations, the voice from my phone talked about how the Dalai Llama said that the strangest thing about humans is that we work really hard, damage our health and work even harder so we can afford to manage our created health problems. Of course it was something more eloquent than that, but it planted a seed.

On Netflix at the moment there is a brilliant documentary called The Minimalists. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s by two guys who realised that their really well paid jobs weren’t making them happy or even buying them happiness. They did something about it, stripped back their lives and now they travel around America talking to people, promoting their books and sharing their recipe for a more fulfilling life.

I have to say it was pretty inspiring and it spoke to me at the place that I am at currently. One person featured in the doco said that he had a lightbulb moment where he suddenly realised that his life was his one and only opportunity to really live. Why was he working so hard to measure up to someone else’s idea of success? In the book I’m reading currently, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett, she talks about how earning ridiculous amounts of money for a lot of people is about competition rather than the money itself. Earning five million dollars a year versus ten million dollars a year doesn’t matter other than as an indicator that you are winning based on our current societal standards of success.

It’s been publicised that there’s basic amount of money that allows people to live contentedly. Beyond that figure, salaries get bigger but people do not get happier. Isn’t that such a freeing thought? It’s worth taking a step back from all the things you’ve been told to do, not only by institutions and advertising but also probably unwittingly by people you know and care about. In my experience I think it starts in school with the pressure to go to University or risk branding yourself as “non-academic”. Our current society wants you to be unhappy with yourself and your life so you will spend your hard earned on money on products that pretend to fix everything.

It sounds depressing but I think you can be liberated by it if you can accept it for what it is. It doesn’t have to be how you measure yourself or how you live your life. You get one chance to forge your own path and find what drives you. Isn’t it exciting that the answer may be smaller and less than you think?

Getting away from what other people expect of you and maybe even what you are used to expecting of yourself can be a pretty daunting idea. It requires giving up and not trying to compete with anyone else. I recommend doing a lot of reading, or if that’s not your thing, find some podcasts. The Minimalists have a free one I would recommend and there’s is loads of stuff out there waiting to instruct and inspire. Then talk about it! Find people who feel the way you do or at least can engage you in some good old deep and meaningfuls to figure this stuff out!

I would love to hear from anyone who is in the same boat and is trying to redefine success in their own terms. Keep fighting the good fight and give up!