Erwin Schrodinger was an Austrian Physicist and he devised the paradox known as Schrodinger’s Cat in 1935. Schrodinger said that if you put a cat in a box with a poison that might kill it, at the end of an hour the cat has a 50% chance of being alive, and a 50% chance of being dead. According to quantum mechanics, since we can’t see in the box to know if the cat is alive or dead, the cat is both alive and dead. Of course, we know that this is not possible; nothing can be alive and dead at the same time. However, I disagree.
I believe that most people, to quote Henry David Thoreau, live a life of quiet desperation…they’re both alive and dead at the same time. Although their hearts are beating and they walk around, they’re not really living. If you doubt me, take a moment to observe the people around you on the bus or train on the way into work in the morning. How many animated conversations are going on? How much laughter and good humoured chatter can you hear? Look at people’s faces as you pass them on the street. Is there a sense of aliveness? “People are busy, Coach,” I hear you say, “they’re just getting on with their lives.” That’s true, I suppose, but is, “just getting on with your life” good enough for you? When you’re on your deathbed…and it comes to us all…will you smile to yourself proudly and announce, “I had a good life, I just got on with it.” Of course not!
I consider it extremely doubtful whether the happiness of the human race has been enhanced by the technical and industrial developments that followed in the wake of rapidly progressing natural science. ~ Erwin Schrodinger
So what’s the difference between the quietly desperate and those living a passionate, inspired life? Firstly, those who are living a fuller life are grateful for what they have. They may not be the richest or most successful by other people’s standards but they live by their own. Studies show that by spending just 5 minutes every morning writing in a journal about the things you are grateful for can increase your happiness by 10% over a period of 6 months. It’s also shown to improve relationships, health, personality, emotions, and career! An American study recently showed that 65% of people in their workplace didn’t receive any recognition last year. That’s appalling! Express your gratitude for someone and notice how it picks them up, notice how it changes your relationship…notice how such a simple gesture makes you feel! Then go and do more of it.
I’ve had clients who would be perceived as successful but inside they’re unhappy. They’re very good at what they do, and they appear to be on the right path, but they feel there is something missing. Invariably they are great achievers…but that’s the problem they are facing. They have a belief that if I achieve therefore I am. Who are they if they are not achieving? They become ‘human doings’ rather than ‘human beings’. Who are you as a person, and is it possible for you to be happy by just being you? Is it possible for you to be happy, to be content, and to still achieve? Don’t get me wrong, achieving things in life is a good thing…but is it all you have?
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. ~ Jim Rohn
Other people measure success by the things they accumulate. Is this a measure of a successful life? Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, summed it up really nicely when he wrote, “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.” If you’re not any of these things, then what are you? We live in a consumerist society. We’re very lucky in that we can have almost everything and anything we want at the touch of a button, but it’s not things that make us happy, it’s experiences. Albert Ellis poses that happiness depends on our interpretation of events. John Locke and Jeremy Bentham claimed that happiness is determined by the number of positive events experienced in life. Eysenck says the No. 1 myth regarding happiness is that happiness is determined by the number and nature of pleasurable events experienced. These are all renowned psychologists who are or have been leaders in their fields. Of course, it’s not possible to be happy all the time, but it is possible to be happier than we currently are. How do we do this? Reread the paragraph on gratitude above and put it into action! Start creating memories. Don’t spend your money on things that will give you a short pick-me-up, head out into the bush, go on a holiday, have a nice meal with friends.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy
Lastly, what are you about? Where are you going in life? Do you have a greater purpose than simply getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, and doing it all again the next day? For some it might be building a rocket to fly to Mars. For others it might be raising a family. Both are extremely rewarding experiences, and both can be extremely tough and frustrating at times. But happiness doesn’t exist in the absence of challenges. If you had no challenges in life I guarantee that you’d be miserable! What do you strive for in life? What difference do you want to make? How are you going to do this? Take a moment to think about these life changing questions…and then go and do it.
If you’d like to know more about living a quality life and stepping up to the next level, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.
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