Building a Meaningful and Successful Life
What is the formula that we are told? Study hard in high school and go to college. Find a good series of upwardly mobile jobs and save ample money for the future. Develop a network of healthy friendships and build a loving relationship with someone you aspire to live your life with. Buy a house and become part of your local community. These are just a fraction of the common rules or guidelines for creating a life of meaning and success.
These rules and strategies are like paint by numbers. There is a formula. Very adult. Just follow the formula. No real thinking. No need to deconstruct the formula and start over. It generally works out most of the time for most people. It’s not rocket science.
But there is another type of painting just as important and often overlooked. It's the finger painting side of life. It's not a formula. It's childish art. Just put the finger into the paint and swish your hand around. The goal is to paint however messy it gets. There is no right and wrong way to finger paint.
There are those that seek to build a good life without paying any attention to the formula side of life. They think they are special and can secure all the great outcomes they seek without having to live by the usual playbook and normative behaviors associated with growing a great life. The formula side usually requires patience to work the steps and the sequence. We want it all yesterday so we go for the quick and easy. Formula living is for the sellouts these people say.
Finger painting living is just as vital as the formula side. It allows us the freedom to want something just because. We don’t have to demonstrate adequate data to justify our desire. We want it and that’s enough. We can decide on a course of action when everyone around us thinks we're crazy. On the finger painting side of life we are aware that life has a time limit and we are slowly running out of time. This side of the equation affirms that all we truly have is now. Tomorrow is a leap of faith. Finger painting living lets us give ourselves permission to really be happy. Life is more than an exercise just to prepare us for the next segment in the exercise. That gets old!
In the thousands of people that I have coached or counseled - most people have variable compliance with paint by numbers living but struggle greatly with finger painting living. It’s really ‘formula plus art’ living.
So what business will you start? What place will you move to? What book will you write? What life will you start to live? When was the last time you swished?
Work the formula but get busy getting messy!