In order to go out and do great things in the world, you first need to feel great. Otherwise, it’s hard to succeed at all, let alone find lasting success.
In my time, I have had successes, but not necessarily in the right way. Certain success was not good for my mental and physical health, and I didn’t enjoy it. I have been 70 pounds heavier, had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and spent long periods of time in some fairly dark places.
That was all a result of a less than optimal mentality and approach to life. You see, there is little point in building success at the expense of everything else. You won’t get to fully enjoy it, and you will certainly struggle with health issues later on, if you don’t live in a balanced way.
Money can’t buy you happiness. We’ve all heard of the hard-working, successfully business people, doctors, lawyers, actors and rock stars who are alcoholics, drug addicts, depressives or divorced. People who are so stressed that they either feel the need for some kind of self-medication as a release, or their personal life and relationships suffer irreparable damage. These facts alone should indicate that success doesn’t necessarily mean happiness.
In the past, I blindly put work first, and then gave myself hedonic rewards to try to make me feel good afterwards: meals, beers, treats, entertainment, parties. I thought I had to follow the mantra: ‘work hard, play hard,’ but both were killing me slowly. (click to tweet)
The world was telling me ‘that’s what people do’, but it wasn’t the way to get the best out of me. I played hard because I wasn’t enjoying working hard. I was unhappy working against myself and my natural rhythms, out of my zones of strength, and out of alignment with my sense of purpose.
I have swapped things around, with radical results. Now I feel good first, and the resultant reward is great work. What has changed for me is that my happiness and well-being come first. Everything else arises from this. If ever these things drop, I make bad choices and start to slip backwards into a state that isn’t optimal. I can survive and operate in that place, but I just don’t want to. It doesn’t produce my best work and it isn’t my best life.
The processes in my life are all designed to give me a platform to jump off. You really can have a great day every day if you work on yourself first! That means making time for your physical, mental and spiritual well-being before anything else. Feel great – be great – and then, do great things!
I have never been so productive – although I work far fewer hours; I am in the best health of my life, and above all else, I have never been happier. I feel alive! And as a result, I feel able to take on some big things in the world.
Success is not about running a 2 or 5 year sprint to get to some finish line, at all costs. You’re alive for the long run. Success is 20, 30, or 40 years of enjoying the journey. To do that, you need to feel good first.
The mistake many people make is thinking that happiness is a destination you have to ‘get to’ – not a journey to enjoy travelling, or a state you can access right now. If you don’t believe me, just remember the times when you’ve felt happy, and get back into that frame of mind and feeling, as if you can hear and visualise what was happening. Relive those sensations whenever you like, and you have the capacity to be happy in an instant. Or do what makes you happy – whether it’s going for a walk, playing with your child, listening to music – and see how it sets you up for the day, and for life.
‘Oh, but I have to work hard for my family/reputation/future!’ you might say. ‘Isn’t looking after myself and being happy just plain selfish?’
I invite you to remember that if you’re a giver, and you devote yourself to others, your priority should be yourself. Why do the emergency safety instructions for air travel tell you to strap on your own oxygen mask before attempting to put one on your child? Because you’re no good to anyone, dead. And to use another metaphor, if you’re always pouring water from your own jug into other people’s drinking glasses to sustain them, make sure you replenish your own glass too, at least so that you have more to give! A dried out husk is no good to anyone, either.
So for those of you who put your personal well-being at the bottom of your list of priorities, I challenge you to think a different way. I challenge you to look after yourself first and foremost. Use your healthy body, mind and spirit as a platform to do great things. I challenge you to be brave, and to use the time and make the space to live life another way.
There is always time. There are always choices. Just make sure that you use your time well, and make great choices.
It might take a little effort to change the habits of a lifetime, but it’s worth it. Sometimes the toughest road in the short term is the one that delivers the best long-term results (click to tweet)
As always I would love to hear about what you do to help you feel great? How do you use this as a platform to go on and do your best work? Please ‘Speak Your Mind’ in the comments section below.
Being Good to Yourself is a Platform, Not a Reward