walking my “why”

The truth is I lied in my last post. My trouble with blogging isn’t work. It’s time management.

Sure, sure — we all have this problem. Who ever does everything they’re supposed to exactly when they’re supposed to do it? Almost no one. That’s human nature — and life. But this flaw has perhaps been exaggerated in my case since moving to Knoxville. I work from home for a company on the west coast. I have class in the middle of the day. I’ve always been a night owl . . .

You see where I’m going with this.

It’s a fine thing to have flexibility and down time, but there comes a point where structure is good, too. Kids need routines and schedules, and so do adults. I like needing to be places and feeling productive. I like feeling like I’m a part of something in a meaningful way.

I’ve talked a lot about happiness on my blog — what it is compared to what we think it is. I’m come to see that happiness is multi-faceted. It’s not enough just to be thankful for what you have. Happiness is not about possessions or wealth. Happiness is much more than that, and part of it is “walking your why” and feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

Take, for example, the families who have been displaced in places like Syria or Rohingya. Many of these people have nothing except the clothes on their backs. Surely these people are suffering, but something that keeps them going — something that keeps all of us going — is the idea that a better future is within their grasp, that somehow they can create a better life for their children.

But why do I bring up refugees? Why not talk about the Yale graduate who left a prestigious law firm to help save women from human trafficking? Or the CEO who left the big business to start a program to help the homeless? Or myself who moved across country to start school to become a teacher? Those are the kinds of stories you were expecting, right?

Why? Because happiness isn’t limited to “first world” nations, folks. Take a look at that smiling Syrian baby above. Is he not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Indeed, some of the happiest people I’ve ever met were in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. Imagine how much simpler your own life would be if you didn’t have all of those “things” to worry about and bills to pay? How much easier would it be to live in the moment? We underestimate the toll some of our privileges take on our overall well-being.

In her talk on emotional agility, which I mentioned previously, psychologist Susan David talks about the importance of living our lives according to our values when it comes to our happiness. And I feel like that’s what’s really missing here. I say I want to get to bed earlier. But do I? I wake up much more satisfied with myself the next morning when I do! We say we want to help others. But do we? We’re much happier when we volunteer at that food kitchen, or reach out to that silent coworker, or take a leap of faith and make that career change — in other words, when we listen to our gut and think outside of ourselves — yes, when we follow through!

My challenge to myself this Easter weekend is to challenge my habits and actions that are not in line with my true values. I desperately want to be a better person and to “walk my why” on a daily basis. Don’t you?

Just food for thought on this beautiful Easter weekend. And . . . Speaking of “whys” . . . Now that I’ve got this blog post done ;) . . . I’ve got a five-page paper to write, so I guess I’d better get going on that, too!

16 thoughts

    • I think it’s a journey we walk every day by living according to our values. I also believe that our values should outward-focused and not self-focused for true happiness to occur. Narcissism and selfishness do not lead to joy.

    • That’s an interesting thought… I’ll have to ponder it… Do you mean other individuals or society as a whole? We choose our own destinies, though I fully agree it’s difficult to escape outside influences entirely.

      • We can choose our own destinies but our society and culture has created expectations surrounding what those destinies are “supposed” to be. It is very difficult to make it in anything viewed as non traditional. And if somebody’s “why” is nontraditional, there are all sorts of pressures from both society and individuals to conform. I’ve spent the last 25 years in a profession that wasn’t my why. It is only when I retire in another 1 1/2 years when I will be able to live my why and it will primarily be because I won’t have to worry about supporting a family and earning enough to do that.

      • Ahh, I see. Hmm… Lots of thoughts swirling. I can certainly understand societal pressure and nontraditional norms. Some of my own angst has to do with the fact that most women are married and have three children by the time they reach my age. Finding my own “destiny” has been challenging — e.g. what DO I want to do with my life? (Something that comforts me, though, is knowing that if my life had turned out like I thought it would, I’d probably be writing about diapers and spit-up instead of values and meaning right now.) I hope you find your “why” and peace upon retirement. You deserve it.

  1. This is going to seem like rambling and I am not telling you to meditate but it has a point.

    We are bombarded by outside influences and even small things add up. Like what? As we walk, we get an urge. Someone could have sent us a message on our phones. We stop walking or doing a task and check our phones. This shows how untrained our minds are. We are giving in to a small impulse.

    Meditation is about sitting, getting impulses and thoughts, and not reacting. Because a person who has control can reason not to react. When you are able to not respond to everything that is bouncing through your mind, you can then work on seeing things for what they are. You see two issues. One is extra clothes in your closet that you never wear and the other is an athlete not standing for the Pledge of the Allegiance. On paper, you can see one is not worth your time. No matter how much you argue with your friends or post about it on Facebook, it has no impact on the player. You do not know this person nor do you interact with him. This is a distraction. The other task has benefit to you and someone else. This is what you should focus on. And the obvious, it is hard to do. Our emotions force us into reacting to things that are pointless. And some prey upon this very feature.

    As long as you are doing what you do and what improvement then you are going in the right direction. It is a never ending battle.

    And Happy Easter!

  2. In the West, we’ve created a life of chasing the material and a paycheck to pay someone else to live. And then there isn’t much time left to “live.” And people have forgotten what it means to “live.” We really need to restructure this. It’s much easier to live in the present moment without the outside pressures and without the ones we create for ourselves inside :-)

  3. “Walking my why” ~ I like this thought, and with spring here and the Easter holiday, it makes for a perfect time for me to continue the push to be the best person possible. Not a better feeling. Finding and following the flow of life around us, taking part in the responsibilities we see is what makes this life so special. Wishing you a wonderful spring.

    • I’m so glad you feel that way, Randall. I do, too. It’s a marvelous thing to be alive! I hope you a wonderful spring, too. So good seeing and hearing from you!

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