A life we love
Updated: Mar 10, 2022
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
— Bob Marley*
Days ago, while I was immersed in one of my usual internet searches, collecting information and verifying data, I came across the website of a personal trainer that I know from some workout programs I’ve completed. When visiting the section where she talks about her reasons and motivations for having dedicated herself to a lifestyle of fitness, a sentence seemed to jump off the screen, completely capturing my attention. It read: "her journey (as a personal trainer) has helped her uncover fears, limiting beliefs and negative self-talk and create a life that she loves."
These last words forced me to stop and think about their connotation. What is, exactly, the meaning of “creating a life we love”? What reasoning, ideas, and motives lie behind that statement? What does it mean to “love” our life? Being happy? Feeling successful and fulfilled? Having no regrets about the past, or doubts about the present or fears facing the future?
What did it mean, to me, to create a life that I could love? Was I going through an existence that I had chosen, or had I simply adapted to the hand I’d been dealt in the game? Isn't that what we often do? We live with “what’s been handed to us”, as if resigning ourselves to this was the only option within our reach. I suddenly understood that, as humans, we tend to exist and not to live. We just accept what is, the way it is, without considering, even for a second, that life shouldn't be something that simply happens to us.
It also occurred to me that the word "create" could perfectly be interchanged with "build". From my perspective, although both share common ground, the second seems to have a more lasting quality, not only in its existence, but in the time it takes to be completed. It is almost as if “building” our life was an ongoing, always incomplete process, as if the only way to genuinely enjoy it was to know that it is in a constant process of creation, progress and change.
How can we create a life that we love?
The first step, without a shadow of doubt, is to be clear on what we will build it on. What our foundation will be. Will it be certainties or insecurities? The latter will always exist, but convictions must prevail so that we are certain of the bases on which we want to build our future. It may be a marriage, the desire to start a family, or the decision to pursue a university career. The options will vary, but the ones you choose will inevitably affect the course of your life.
Just as basic as the foundations is the planning: coming up with the specific details, and the detailed specifications. A blueprint, if you will, that serves us as a guide. Just as a house or a building, our life contains compartments defined by walls, which in turn are connected by doors, completed by windows that allow us to see what lies beyond. All this, protected by a solid and durable roof.
Thinking about this house-life analogy, I realized that I had rarely considered that our existence is made up of independent, but necessarily interconnected, rooms. I discovered that, frequently, I had tried to build those rooms without thinking about the connection they should have with the existing ones. That's why, as we set out to build a life we can cherish, enjoy, and love, careful planning is necessary, even as we leave room for some unavoidable surprises or unforeseen events.
Sometimes, longing to add experiences and emotions, or simply implement changes, we add spaces to our lives without thinking about how they will affect the rest of our being, or that of those who share our existence. We ignore the connections with what is already built and assembled, risking creating an imbalance that threatens what has been previously constructed with so much effort and dedication. In the same way, wishing to achieve more, we add things that do not feed the love for our life, surrounding it with minutiae that provides little to no benefits and, rather than helping, brings annoyance and distraction from what is truly important.
All these details, among others, are part of our planning when deciding what kind of life we want to build. A life that makes you want to live it. A life we can fall in love with.
Brick by brick
Continuing with the planning, once the blueprint has been drawn, we will need to concentrate on the building order. We will necessarily find needs that must be attended to before others. This can be about traumas or fears that we have not confronted, pains that we have a hard time leaving behind, challenges that we have postponed facing due to laziness, fear or any other reason. Countless things that need to be confronted and resolved, on a case-by-case basis, and in an orderly manner, so that we don't start building walls before laying the foundations.
Whatever the steps we need to take are, we must prioritize them. We can't help a loved one with self-esteem issues if we don't first address our own struggles with them. We won’t be in a good place to try and get that job we want so much, if we don’t first improve our resume, polish our skills, and update our knowledge to aspire to compete for that position.
Are you envisioning to open your own company? How informed are you of the requirements for that? Is your knowledge sufficient and solid to contribute to your success? Have you saved money to invest in your business, or to provide you with financial stability during the first months of your new adventure?
Brick by brick.
Patience, time, and organization.
Securing the connections
What about the doors in your life? How will you be connecting the different “rooms” or compartments that you plan to add to those that already exist? Your physical health care, your emotional wellbeing, your relationships with family and friends, your professional life as well as your spiritual needs (and by "spiritual" I am not referring to religiosity, but to everything that, according to your own definition, transcends the material realm), they must have a harmonious coexistence and be fully interconnected. We can add as many sub-divisions as we want or need, but the ones I just mentioned are essential. Equally essential is the balance between them. That extra time you dedicate to your work, where do you get it from? Do you take it away from your family or your workout time? Do you deduct the extra hours you spend in front of the television from your resting hours? Doesn't that imbalance affect your work performance?
Everything is connected to everything. A minimal tilting of the tightrope walker's bar might end up causing his fall. And it is, precisely, the minimal and imperceptible things that end up generating the most damage because, when we finally manage to notice them, all equilibrium has been lost.
Opening up to what’s outside
Windows are as important as doors. They connect us with the outside, refresh our home and let in the sunlight. They prevent us from limiting our vision to what’s inside only, allowing our access to what’s beyond our safe zone.
Which are your windows, and how will the new ones look like? Do you picture them as a book, a conference, or a trip? Maybe they will present themselves as new ideas that will challenge your convictions. Analyze all this carefully and with plenty of time.
Should we settle?
Once construction is on its way, do we have to stop it halfway if we run into obstacles? If things get rough, shouldn't we, with a grateful heart, accept a decent alternative, even if it’s not what we hoped and worked for?
Regrouping, yes. Settling, no.
First of all, standards exist for a reason. Having defined and accepted them from the beginning, we must respect and defend them, keeping them as our North Star.
Secondly, the result we obtained may not be what was expected now, but time will go by, and new opportunities will arise to try again and reach that standard, our standard. The life that you have been building up to this day is yours, with its hits and misses. You are not your past’s failures. Your essence is not made up of your previous mistakes or miseries alone. What you lost and what you won, what you kept silent as well as what you shouted out from the top of your lungs, your sweetest victories and your most bitter defeats, all of that is you.
All of that, not “part” of that.
Looking ahead and creating a life you fall in love with, you need to let go of labeling yourself with a specific loss or mistake. You are more than that. We all are. Today’s version of ourselves is an accumulation of many days that will no longer return, but that have also forged our present self. From our mistakes, we learned how not to do something. From our falls, to pay better attention to the path and learn how to get up. From our failures, which strategies don’t work and what methods we should incorporate. And just like that with everything. I like to think that it is the wisdom we obtain from all these experiences that put our house under cover, like a roof that extends to protect our home.
No one is exclusively made from their victories and bright days. No one learns without making mistakes, and no one rises without first biting the dust.
Collect all the materials and tools, and focus on your blueprint. All your failures, tears, sadness, and defeats will be as useful to you as your victories and smiles, with their sunny days and refreshing breeze.
Build a life you can fall in love with, but don't rush. Respect the different stages and building order, and do not give in to inconsistency.
Everything has to do with everything. Start building your life. No one knows its blueprint better than you.
* Bob Marley - Do you really need me to tell you who Bob Marley was?