This week I am turning 37 and I was reflecting on what I’ve learned thus far in life and what that would mean to a 17 year old me. In our world heavily influenced by busy lives, media portrayls of perfection and the ‘good life’, I wondered, what would I do differently if I could go back.
I would stop criticising my body and all of my perceived imperfections. I would recognise that I was perfect the way I was (still am!) and my body is more than something to look at.
I would not let anyone stop me from exploring my dreams. I wouldn’t feel swayed to follow a particular path, I would choose my own experiences, make my own decisions.
I would be much more careful about relationships.
I would explore more of the world, have more adventures and be more in nature. After having kids, this becomes more difficult, not impossible, but certainly there is a regret for the things I could have done when it was easier.
I would take better care of my body with how I move and what I eat. I would pay more attention to the niggles, and do ALL of the exercises my physio gave me.
Becoming intentional is about learning from the past and making better, informed and deliberate decisions today, tomorrow and in the future.
Idealised versions of a better world have been around for as long as humans have been able to write. Since receiving my ‘enrol to vote’ card at 18 where the AEC had assumed I wanted to save dolphins, until now, my understanding of the world has changed and grown in immeasurable ways.
This blog and my life have become almost solely focused on how our intentions, or lack of, affect our ability to change things in our worlds. Reading about the idea of the stranger in my course this week, the topic of civil inattention (Goffman) seemed so apt at this stage of Victoria’s continued stage four lock down due to coronavirus. Goffman argued society has coped with not knowing the never ending surge of faceless strangers by learning to not pay attention, to pretend we are not concerned with our own image and how we are constantly scrutinised or evaluated. And the result of this, argued by Bauman (1990) is a sense of moral indifference. Perhaps it is the inattention society experiences that leads many Victorians to protest and argue against our Premier’s lock down extension on the basis of freedom. The moral indifference leads to heartlessness and disregard for the needs of others (Bauman 1990, p. 70) and could explain the individualistic nature of members of society. Yet, the plan for Victoria promises to protect those most vulnerable; a less-political and more accommodating view of society than one could generally hope for from a politician.
As individuals, we can make a difference. We can show up for our neighbours, work hard to pay attention to others. Be engaged and watch out for our own moral indifference. For those who have enough, we can look out for those who don’t. We can share, we can help, we can care.
This is the end of the three – part series on the post-pandemic world. Part 1 and Part 2 are available.
Right now our world is turned upside down. It seems many are struggling with the changes coronavirus has brought to their lives even if they are not unwell or still holding a job.
In Australia, although many people did lose their jobs, the government have provided extensive funds to most of those affected.
Schools are teaching via distance education and parents are balancing crisis schooling with working or managing the needs of younger children, or any other combination of commitments.
One of the ways in staying mindful and practicing gratitude is focusing on the enormous luck and privilege I currently have.
I’m healthy and so are my family. We have enough food and abundant activities. We have nature and technology.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to take some time to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Recognise the ways in which you are privileged and hopefully this week reduce your stress levels and allow you to be more present.
One of the hardest things as a parent is knowing that you set the first example of how to live to your children. I’m not sure how other parents think, or what they think about, but I am often reflecting on the ways our lives set us up to be parents. Whether you were part of a close knit family, grew up in an urban environment, attended a mainstream school; all of these factors influence how you parent.
For me, one of the most important values I am passionate about passing onto my kids is compassion. I have had a lot of challenges in my life and it is difficult to write about or share openly as it can be confronting. I’ve found that we as humans are deeply affected by poor relationships and/or difficult relationships in their lives. It’s challenging as a teenager or young adult to understand what is happening around us, and how these relationships might influence our lives and our own choices.
But knowing who we are and understanding how our environment, family, schooling and relationships affect us is critical to happiness and to make the smart choices. Sometimes our lives may lead us in the wrong direction because we are not aware of how much we are guided by others. In many ways, other people such as family, friends or colleagues may be trying to exert influence in a positive way, genuinely believing their attitudes and values are the right ones. However, sometimes when we have not had the opportunity to gaze inwardly and reflect on who we are, we may be influenced by others, and find ourselves living a life that we had not planned.
A few years ago, this is where I found myself. Consumed by work and career, and believing a corporate career was the only answer. I believed money and investing in property to become wealthy were imperative. I believed I SHOULD do certain things in life because not only was I expected to but that it would mean I would be accepted and valued.
Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash
However, minimalism found me in my pit of anxiety, in a place where I was consumed by stress and debt and felt that there must be another choice. What I realised was we have a much wider range of choices than we are led to believe. When you are brought up in a family of entrepreneurs and workaholics, you believe that this is the only path. To move away from that lifestyle and be content with less, to embrace being unbusy, and to prioritise your own needs, and to put in place boundaries for the first time; it can be overwhelming as well as liberating.
This is what minimalism has done for me. It has opened my eyes to the choices that are available to me. It is liberating and freeing to imagine what I desire for my life, rather than seeing my life as a mapped out plan on a highway in one direction. I don’t judge others for their choices; some people thrive in competitive careers and love to have expensive clothing and luxury items. My only question is about intentionality. Are you living intentionally? What can you ask yourself about your choices in order to make sure you are on YOUR path?