A GOOD LIFE
Playing professional hockey for over 20 years has taught me a lot about the relationship between my emotions and living well. As a young man I traveled to different countries and changed environments often. From one day to another I would be living in another city, another apartment. I would have new teammates and new coaches. I had to adapt and feel good in order to perform at the best of my abilities. This taught me a lot about my strengths, my weaknesses and where I needed to grow.
Image knowing what parts in your life would have the greatest impact on your happiness, your health and your fulfillment! If you were to invest in your future best self right now, where would you invest your time and your energy?
The Pareto principle states that 80% of the results we accomplish are created by 20% of the things we do! Wouldn’t you like to know where to invest your time and energy?
Invest your time and energy where it truly impacts your life!
Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that no two people are the same yet I believe that at our core we share the same human needs. It is obvious to me that someone who cannot meet his or her need for security will have more difficulty connecting with others. Yet the opposite is true as well, someone might commit suicide if he or she feels isolated and alone.
What need is greater?
Throughout the years, I have come understand that confidence and well-being were two components I needed in order to perform in my sport. For me confidence and well-being brought me a great sense of security! Often confidence and well-being escaped me, this prevented me from living well and being fully present. Today I have learned to access the present moment with more ease; I have less rules and this makes it easier to be happy, healthy and more fulfilled.
Living a good life is like building a home
I am going to use the example of building a house as a metaphor for what contributes to a happy and fulfilling life. The foundation being the way you see yourself and what your day-to-day experience is in your body and mind. It is about growing and developing yourself so you feel healthy and self-worthy!
The second part is your environment, which represents the walls, the roof, the windows and all the other parts of the house. We need the whole house to be happy! This part is about surrounding the foundation. The house needs to appeal to your senses! Will you feel good in your home? Does your home give you strength? Our environment should do the same! Our friends, our family, our work and lifestyle should all contribute to reinforcing our confidence and well-being. It should energize you!
A recent survey done on the millennial generation asking them what their most important goals were in life. 80% answered being rich and 50% of those same young adults said that being famous was another major life goal. We are under the impression that this is what will bring us a good life! We are always told to push harder in our work and achieve more. The mass media gives us the impression that this will bring us a good life.
75 Year Study
A Harvard study on adult development followed the lives of 724 men into adulthood. This study has been ongoing for 75 years; most studies die off after a decade. This study however has had 4 directors and there are 60 participants remaining from the initial 724. Since 1938 the study has tracked the lives of two groups of men. Half the group started the study when they were sophomores at Harvard; they were from what Tom Brokaw called the greatest generation. They all graduated during World War 2 and most of them went off to serve in the war after they graduated.
The second group of boys came from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. They were specifically chosen for the study because they were from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in the Boston area in the 1930s. When they entered the study, all the boys were interviewed and given medicals exams. They also went to their homes and interviewed their parents. In adulthood some become factory workers, lawyers, bricklayers, doctors, one became President of the United States; some develop alcoholism and a few developed schizophrenia. Some climbed the social latter from the bottom all the way to the top and some made that journey in the opposite direction.
Today every 2 years the men are asked to fill out questionnaires. They get medical check-ups and brain scans from their doctor; they interview and study them in their homes while they share their deepest concerns with their loved ones. They now started following the wives and children of the remaining men.
What an opportunity to be able to watch evolve the lives of so many young men!
It reminds me of the movie “The Truman show”.
So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the ten of thousands of pages of information they have generated?
The study reveals without a doubt that the quality of our lives isn’t determined by money, fame or our social status. Many famous and successful people lead destructive lives. What is clear is that good relationships clearly contribute towards our health and happiness! Caring for one another makes our immune system stronger; it also serves as an anesthetic for pain, both mental and physical.
It is clear that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are socially connected to family, to friends and to community are happier. They live longer and they are physically healthier. On the other hand the experience of loneliness ends up being toxic; people who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy. Their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives.
One in 5 Americans will report that they are lonely! This doesn’t just mean having people around you. Have you ever been in a crowd and felt lonely? We know this to be a fact for many! It is not about having a busy social life! Quite on the contrary in today’s social media era we might experience loneliness and feel disconnected even if we know many people or have many friends on Facebook. It is more about having authentic relationship where you just feel you can be yourself.
Don’t let your childhood keep you a prisoner
What about those who don’t have the same opportunities and come from very dysfunctional environments? Are they doomed to live a good life?
Like many, looking back on my childhood, I would have to clearly state that my environment was one that was filled with stress and negative emotions. Boundaries were not respected so I learnt to adapt in order to survive. I became what others wanted me to be! I got really good at isolating myself and self-soothing in order to meet my needs.
Despite all that, I played in the NHL! I realized my childhood dream yet I felt like a house lacking a stable foundation; I didn’t turn my opportunities into real progress. I was surrounded by teammates and often I felt isolated even in a team dynamic. I met amazing people but never stayed in touch with any of them. It is only through introspect and growth that something within me changed.
This feeling of loneliness can shift into an authentic feeling to share and be interested in others.
Safety is an inside job!
The impact of our childhood
Our childhood without a doubt has a huge impact in the way we see ourselves in the world; many children become who others want them to be and the result is they disconnect from the child who once felt complete. We put on masks in order to feel we belong. I believe this blocks our ability to meet and develop authentic relationships. Maintaining a false image of oneself saps your energy, it never allows you to relax and just be.
Don’t live in the past; use your past to come alive!
In the end, your past doesn’t define you! Just like the house it is never too late to build a stable foundation. You have to take full responsibility for your life! You need to work from the inside out! Consciously reshape your thoughts and your beliefs. Your emotions will shift and your day-to-day experience will become richer!
Rejection and judgment only knocks us our center when our foundation isn’t grounded! Care less about what others think and say, instead become aware of that part in you it touches. Develop the courage to speak your mind and meet your needs authentically.
Be genuinely interested in others. Follow your intuition about what feels right to you. Most importantly grow and develop self-worth and well-being! Good relationships are the by-product of an authentic secure-self.
No child is born feeling ashamed to meet his or her own needs, he/she are conditioned into believing that. When you feel good within yourself, you will naturally radiate that into the world. You will make better choices in choosing the people you want to share your life with and surely the good life will be yours!