For most of my adult life, my focus has been on doing things. It’s only in the recent past that I shifted my focus to being. I’ve come to realize the joy is more in doing things and less in having done them, because how we do something (anything) matters way more than what we do (accomplish) in our lives. Paradoxically, when we focus on how we live, we end up accomplishing more (not less), but it comes from a place of being in service of others rather than making it about ourselves, lest we forget the purpose of life is to give, not to get. And, the more we give, the less we need.
Anyway, I’ll be turning 40 soon. And I consider this time as the beginning of the second innings of my life. In many ways, I feel like I’m only getting started. It seems apparent to me how everything I’ve learned in the past few years has been in preparation for where I am now and for what’s to come in the near future. I can surely connect the dots looking back. And I feel quite aligned with Carl Jung’s sentiments here:
Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.
I can sum up my life story in five words that captures the essence of where I am in life right now and how I’m feeling. The words are philosopher, acceptance, restart, tribe, and trust.
Philosopher: It’s only in the recent past have I felt aligned with identifying myself as a (self-taught) philosopher. I used to think of myself as an optimist (which I am in many ways), but this word feels more aligned with who I am. Looking back, it’s not only something I did, but more importantly, it’s who I was. It was evident in my Why as well.
Even though I had been a philosopher all along, it’s taken me a while to catch up to myself. I’m glad to have found my identity in something that feels like home to me. I’d be amiss if I didn’t share my philosophy with you, which can be summed up in one line: I believe how we live each day matters way more than what we do (accomplish) in our lives.
Acceptance: I’ve learned to accept things without trying to make them happen. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s no fun trying to force things to happen, and even if they ended up happening for us, it wouldn’t be worth it because there was effort involved (and it didn’t feel right). I believe how we do anything matters much more than what we do.
I’ve learned to live with the idea that the way life is unfolding for me is exactly what/how things are supposed to be happening. There is no need to hold onto things, and ergo, there is no need to let go. Accept everything and resist nothing. Then there is no expectation, only contentment. When there is acceptance of everything, there is no need for “resilience”, which is an afterthought (a reactive response) at best.
Restart: As I shared earlier in the draft, I’m restarting my life in many ways. I feel like everything I’ve learned in the past few years has prepared me for the journey I’ve embarked on. Despite the fact that I had been unfulfilled most of my adult life, I feel great about myself now (and in anticipation for what’s to come). The fact that I get to live my Why every day is a blessing for myself (and for others).
Tribe: I believe life is about finding the others and doing something great with them, personally and professionally. We are only meant to get along with the few (not the many). I’ve learned one of life’s greatest ironies — the world conditions you to be like everyone else and rewards you for being yourself. The best thing we can do for us (and for others) is to stay true to ourselves. I wish I came across this Oscar Wilde quote in my childhood:
You may as well be yourself because everybody else is already taken.
Trust: It’s taken me all my life to learn who I am and to trust myself. It’s almost funny how we stop trusting ourselves in our childhood as we get older (when we start to get conditioned by the world). We try to fit in with the world even when we feel otherwise, lest we forget we can’t fit in with the world and stand out at the same time. To our detriment, we let our thinking get in the way of our feeling.
For instance, I spent most of my adult life being an expert, but I’ve never felt more at home with being a beginner. This isn’t to say there should be no experts, but there is a time and place for both kinds in the world.
So that’s my life story in five words, as I turn 40. Suffice it to say, I’ve much more to share about each of these five words, but I’ll leave that for another day.