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Apr 12, 2019 09:54:54

How can you define your ideal life?

by @haideralmosawi PATRON | 582 words | 29🔥 | 212💌

Haider Al-Mosawi

Current day streak: 29🔥
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In my post on life balance yesterday, where I recommended readers define their ideal lives, @brianball made the excellent point that we often don't know what our ideal is because we've not experienced it, and so it's difficult to imagine whether we would actually enjoy it or not.

There's a lot we can learn from the lives of successful people: those who set out to achieve something (fame, wealth, impact) and manage to achieve it. In many causes:

  • They default to the same level of happiness they had before their big achievement
  • They experience disappointment and a sense of lack
  • They go on to pursue other goals, sometimes ones that their success enabled them to pursue (the common pattern being millionaires becoming philanthropists)

It's important to realize that no external achievement will lead to everlasting satisfaction. There is no destination to arrive at and stay at. Human beings long for development and direction. In fact, challenge is what keeps us engaged. Otherwise we'd probably die of boredom.

When defining your ideal life, it's essential that you:

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude: to appreciate what you have right now. Otherwise you'll never appreciate whatever you may have. As the Islamic proverb says: "Materialism is like drinking sea water. The more you drink, the thirstier you become"
  • Embrace challenge: Your ideal life cannot be challenge-free, otherwise you will lose engagement with life. But you want to move in the direction of challenges you care about and feel passionate engaging with
  • Have more of what you know you enjoy: We often abandon our big goals because we get caught up in the little distractions of life (scrolling through social media takes the place of writing a book we want to publish). Defining your ideal life and having a clear picture of what it might look like helps to filter out the noise so you can focus on what truly matters to you
  • Big goals, small steps: Small improvements are important. They make big goals possible. But we often settle for small improvements when we don't have a grand vision that allows us to step out of our limiting expectations of ourselves. Your definition of your ideal life should make you challenge your existing assumptions about yourself and what you're capable of achieving
  • Be open to change course: It's true that what you end up doing may not bring you the joy you expected. Maybe you imagined yourself doing extreme sports or going on hikes, but hate every minute of planning, doing, and recovery. You have to accept what you truly feel about an experience when you get there, and be willing to define another pursuit for yourself. But your ability to get to where you set out to get is an achievement in itself, which you can appreciate and enjoy, and you are in a better position to understand yourself and your next pursuit
  • Your ideal life is a moving target: Defining your ideal life helps you develop clarity on what to focus on now, but you will continue to refine your definition of ideal with newfound understanding and experience. That's completely normal and part of the experience. You will get to enjoy every leg of the journey, no matter where you go or eventually end up

Don't limit your destination by your starting point, but don't long for the destination without defining what your next step will be.

I wish you all success in reaching your destinations, and an awesome adventure along the way.

  • 1

    @haideralmosawi --- nice update to the previous. However, it's still not resonating with me.
    "Defining your ideal life helps you develop clarity on what to focus on now" Maybe it's the word "defining" -- Does a word get defined first - and then spring into existence -- or do people start using it -- and then somebody writes down the definition?

    I think usage comes first in the case of a dictionary.

    When you paint a wall, you can put tape over the things you don't want to paint, but those have already been defined ( by the placement of things like baseboard and light switches etc.

    And, there's no way you can know that cancer is going to be the best thing for you. How many survivors have found true purpose and happiness only after a major detour from what anybody might define as their ideal life?

    Have you defined your ideal life? How's it working out?

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Apr 12, 2019 08:56:04
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      @brianball I see what you mean. "Define" sounds like chiseling a statue to something specific when we don't know enough about what truly makes us happy.

      So in the example of word usage: words are used with some meaning in mind, then a dictionary aims to make the meaning more specific so as not to allow for approximate usage/vague meaning. I can say: "My lower back is lakamaka." If I'm trying to communicate something, that word must have meaning for me, which you can try to deduce based on context. To avoid confusion in the future, we would have an explicit definition for it.

      I do have an ideal life in mind: the kind of body I want to have, the attitude, the resources, the freedom I want to experience (in terms of how I spend my time, where I live, can work from, what to work on, etc), and what activities I enjoy and what to do more of, and what experiences I want to explore and open myself up for. I also used to be a religious extremist, and I want to share my experience learning about critical thinking and how people construct beliefs/can adopt destructive values.

      I use the ideal vision I have in mind to prioritize my activities and it also motivates me to know that the small incremental improvements I make on a daily basis are actually building up into something more significant with time.

      It's possible my priorities will change in the future or they will become more detailed (more clearly defined) with experience, but a clear, ambitious goal keeps me motivated.

      Haider Al-Mosawi avatar Haider Al-Mosawi | Apr 13, 2019 13:27:41
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      @haideralmosawi - so, you don't have an ideal life imagined -- you have an aspiration, an imagination of what might be good.

      If you asked me to define a goal for something I think I might want to experience, that feels much different than design an ideal life.

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Apr 13, 2019 12:15:53
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      @brianball Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

      Haider Al-Mosawi avatar Haider Al-Mosawi | Apr 14, 2019 10:26:08
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      @haideralmosawi - now after re-thinking, I'd agree that imagine and define are satisfactorily interchangeable. :-)

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Apr 14, 2019 14:51:46
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