“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters”
Well known professor Joseph Campbell was the one who convinced us that we should follow our bliss and aspire to the victorious life. The virtues and challenges of the heroic life came alive in the many myths and legends he used in his teachings. The Barefoot Doctor (Stephen Russell) of the UK thinks that our lives should unfold like a fairytale. According to these two, that fabulous (as in fable) life that everyone wants to experience, is possible.
I want to pose four pertinent questions that might help you on your way to achieve this marvelous life. Of course I don’t know the full recipe. Half the fun in life is to find out what makes you tick! In searching for this “good” life, we are all exploring the mystery and the uniqueness of being ourselves. We can try to find the perfect routine, the best diet, the nicest job - all the things that will make us feel good every day of our lives.
“Do I shine?”
Yes, do you have a spark of radiance around you? Do you energize others, do you give them hope and courage? What is your light like? Hopefully not hidden under a bushel! I was in high school when a dear friend gave me the wonderful book about Lobsang Rampa, a Tibetan monk. This was my earliest memory of hearing about auras and that we each have a light around us. Some gifted people can apparently discern the colour of these auras. Nowadays the colour of your own aura can be photographed and then analyzed by an expert. I experienced this at Quest; a Mind, Body and Spirit Festival in Devon, England. From the examples I saw there, these auras are very different for each individual. However, it is our personal spark that is noted by everybody; and not the aura per se. This spark is always present when we are happy.
In this modern age there are so many courses and modalities to help us to “find ourselves”. From my own experience, it looks to me as if an unfulfilled life is mostly caused by mistaken beliefs that we hold in our minds. So if we can identify these wrong beliefs say for example: “I will never be happy”, we can work on them using positive affirmations to change what we have in our minds. One can affirm the following: “I love life, personal happiness is possible”. Once one changes what one holds in mind, one’s whole experience of life can change. Happiness is the seed that needs to be nurtured. Happiness creates enthusiasm and this provides extra energy for everything we do. Anyone that is energetic always looks radiant and has a snowball effect on people they are in contact with.
“Do I have a sense of adventure?”
Is that not what Tin Tin had, or the pirates of the Caribbean or even modern day millionaire Richard Branson? By exploring life and feeding our natural curiosity we will come closer to changing our life into a wonderful fable. I love to go into Captain Cook mode and to discover new islands. On my last visit to the Seychelles I set foot on Round Island, an exclusive five star resort near Praslin. This was my 41st island that I have visited; my quest being to get to a 100 before I die. We saw in the movie Madagascar how the lion, the zebra, the hippo and the giraffe did something similar. They escaped from the humdrum and predictable life in the New York Zoo to experience a new kind of life. Through all their adventures they eventually landed on the exotic island of Madagascar. Here life was really exciting and full of novel experiences. “I like to move it, move it!”
The beginning of each year is a good time to look at the calendar and see what is on offer in the area of long weekends and holidays, so that one can plan ahead and look forward to an exciting outing, a new hiking trial or even a daring trip abroad.
Being an adventurer also means that we are not afraid to risk. We are willing to go into the unknown and leave the familiar behind. We feel bold enough to venture into new experiences. Only when we have the courage to attempt the unknown will we reap the benefits of a full and a rewarding life.
“Do I feel I am going to win?”
The same question can be posed more eloquently - ”Do I have a sense of imminent victory?” This is such a potent feeling that has amazing attracting powers. It opens up a magnificent new field of possibilities for us. The belief that victory is just around the corner has great motivational qualities. Whether it is passing a difficult course, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or finishing a novel, the sense of attaining this goal sets us into motion and action. One gets excited with prospects. Just thinking of the possibility of finally losing that last two kilograms and fitting into a nice new pair of jeans inspires us to get there. As they say in business jargon, “It is not what the vision is; it is what the vision does!” So dig out those great expectations and get the ball rolling.
Many people are afraid of failure but really there is no such thing. Each little step is a step towards that eventual goal. As long as we are making a concerted effort to improve our lives, we are creating progress. What matters is not where we are. What really matters is the direction we are moving in.
I used to compete as a tri-athlete. The expectation that one is going to win makes one try harder. Even in the face of so- called failure, one keeps hoping that the next race or endeavour will bring the coveted prize. It is almost as if we believe that great blessings are just around the corner. With such a sense of imminent victory an energetic field around us is kicked into action. This “field” will actually attract that which we are hoping for.
“Do I try to help others?”
We each have a unique personality. There is always something each one of us can do better that anybody else. There are so many ways of helping others. One can be an inspiring teacher, a supportive partner, a prominent leader or even just a helping friend. By our willingness to serve and to make others happy, we will actually become happy ourselves. In my own practice as a therapist I always tell my clients not to seek love but to rather give love. It is only then that it comes to us. It is in our willingness to give that which we seek ourselves, that the wealth of Creation will flow into our lives. And remember to smile freely. I was in a small rural town on my last holiday and the inherent friendliness and helpfulness of the local people really made a lasting impression on me, to such an extent that one of my New Year resolutions is to be more helpful and considerate!
I guess the only other missing ingredient to the “good life” is the belief that life should be good! Those of you who saw the recent animation movie Kung Fu Panda will remember the big quest for the secret scroll. This scroll was only to be opened by the greatest fighter of them all. When the roly poly Bear eventually had the privilege to unroll this scroll, one could see the surprise on his face. There was nothing on it. Not a word! As long as one believes one is the greatest fighter in the world, that is what one will become!
So, dear reader, this is my attempt to make you share in the unfolding of your own personal fairytale. And by the way, I believe this is entirely possible. With transformation of our minds, we can start to live that blessed life. As the saying goes: “The past is history; the future is a mystery; today is a gift that is why it is called the present!” So whether you want to run that marathon, jump on the next plane to Timbuktu or simply want to lead a more meaningful life, make the most of it. May those good fairies shine their magic light to show you the way!
Reference: Original idea from the Bhagavad Gita (a translation for the new millennium): Acarya, Vijaya. 2003. Bhagavad- Gita. Ch 10 verse 36 pg 95.
This article was published in Odyssey in the December/January 2011 issue, pages 26-28, under the title "Follow your Bliss."