Cultivate a Life You Love

My friend Sylvia and I were having our weekly phone date, and we discussed cultivating the lives we love. We joked about how this is a complicated concept to grasp for our peers who follow the standards set for the general population. It’s hard for them to see past that, sometimes. They badger and probe us as if we stepped outside of our logical minds, but seem to relish in our boldness to live atypical lifestyles. Our conversation raised this question: Have we been brainwashed by the system’s career-based structure and ideals?

The system I speak of manifested during the industrial revolution which I read about in the Huffington Post. I learned from the article that in the late 18th century, companies started to maximize the output of their factories. The goal was to get them up and running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To have this become an efficient process, people would work about ten to sixteen hours a day. A fellow named Robert Owen, whose slogan was “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”, started a campaign to have people work no more than eight hours per day due to how unsustainable such a long work day had become. Soon after, Henry Ford followed this blueprint, other companies caught on, and the rest is history.

{I won’t get into brain cycles and biological clocks (just yet) because everyone is different. It’s about what works for self.}

Sylvia is a web consultant and designer in New York City and consciously decided that her work schedule would only consume the first four days of the week, allowing herself a three-day weekend. This is precisely what she wanted. In fact, she required it.

I am an artist but I also work in the medical field, I travel, and my schedule is very inconsistent. For example: On my last work trip, I flew to Jacksonville Beach, Florida to see patients for two weeks. Out of fourteen days, I traveled for two, worked eleven, and spent two days at the beach somewhere in-between, but I clocked about 125 work hours, then I was off for two weeks. This works for me. Should life be all about duty on a repetitive schedule, with barely any time to play? Absolutely not.

No matter what field you’re in, there will be constraints. Whether it’s time, location, money, or other circumstances, there will always be a hurdle or two. Sylvia said “This is the sh*t you go through in life.” Do most people have everything they want? I doubt it, but what’s important is how well what you need and what you want co-exist.

I seem to rebel against systematic structures, and repetitiveness is not thrilling to me. My happiness depends on how freely I navigate through life, and having adequate leisure time to indulge in the activities I enjoy is critical.  I need a certain level of freedom from society’s limits on living in order to have the best possible life as my best self. I’m defining my own standards for what living a good life means.

There’s no self-help book or cliché meme telling me what standards work for me, but in them, I do find inspiration to be fearless and take charge of my schedule. This is one of the healthiest ways to live. I chase adventure and try to catch all of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out spending my days walking tight ropes across mountain peaks, or diving to the depths of the ocean. I look forward to and find great pleasure in the little things like trying out a new vegan recipe, feeling cozy with a book and hot tea in my favorite quaint coffee shop, holding hands in the park, or going hiking with my husband. Those smaller moments are where I find pure happiness, and knowing that the next one is just around the corner is exciting. Happiness is something I aspire to everyday; This is my true high on life.

Anything is possible when you keep your options open, and although what you want may not have come to fruition (yet), remember, everything starts with an idea or thought, and what happens with thoughts? They become actions, and those actions turn into reality at some point or another. Our lives are creative projects, so cultivate it, and cultivate it again until you like the way it looks and feels.

Bottom line, settle for nothing less than what you want, and how you want it. If you don’t have it, go out and make it happen!

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