In this series about creating a life vision, we are expanding on the Six Pillars of a Happy Life, the elements you should consider when seeking true happiness and balance. You might be convinced that a life vision is necessary, or not.
There is a quote that goes, “Without a vision, the people perish.''
There comes a point in life when you have to assess if you are truly happy. If you are stressed out, depressed or anxious or have no motivation, then this may be exactly what you need to do. You don’t need any fancy apps or a vacation in the Himalayas to figure out your life vision. All you need to finally find happiness and balance in life is you, a pen and some paper!
Let’s get down to finding out about the 5th pillar of happiness - your lifestyle.
What are the 6 Pillars of Happiness
Let’s do a quick recap. The six pillars of happiness are made up of these elements in life:
- 1st Pillar of happiness - Health
- 2nd Pillar of happiness - Career
- 3rd Pillar of happiness - Relationships
- 4th Pillar of happiness - Leisure
- 5th Pillar of happiness - Spirituality
- 6th Pillar of happiness - Lifestyle
You can review the other articles to better understand each pillar.
The Role of Lifestyle in Happiness
The pillar of lifestyle brings together the other four pillars - health, career, relationships, and leisure. A person's daily choices about each pillar make up his or her lifestyle. And a person’s vision for their life guides those daily choices and creates a lifestyle that will lead to happiness.
In my personal experience, I was taught about having a vision by my teacher. It changed my life. I started to look at my life and use this tool to see how I aspire to be like my teacher. I wanted to be able to speak in front of people without being so paralyzingly nervous. I wanted to be on time for class, and for any other event. Because I developed a vision of myself, in my entirety, I was able to start making changes in my lifestyle to turn my vision into reality. I began to see that having a life vision does work!
What is the opposite of having a vision and acting on it? The opposite is feeling stuck, hopeless and letting time just pass by. A life without a vision will have no goals, joy or success. Surely, you don’t want that kind of life for yourself.
My teacher requested that I do an exercise. He advised me to chat with an elderly person whenever I got the chance. If I was on the bus or train, I would prefer to sit next to an older person and respectfully ask them a very serious question.
" What is the most significant lesson you learned in your life?"
70% of older people cautioned us not to waste our time. Once time has passed you can never get it back.
Hopefully, you are feeling motivated to get started on creating your life vision.
First, review your current lifestyle.
- What are you doing to take care of your health on a daily basis?
- In the pillar of career, are you overworking to the point where you neglect the next pillar which is relationships?
- What of leisure - do you spend so much time doing leisurely activities that you are scurrying around at work and not doing your job well?
In an accompanying blog, we will discuss the pillar of spirituality and help you consider what your daily life looks like in terms of spiritual practices.
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A Life-Changing Question
The point is that we are trying to find balance in all pillars. Our lifestyle has a large impact on whether or not we can find balance.
So, I have a question for you. It could be a life-changing question. I hope it is.
“What does an ideal day look like for you?”
This question may seem simple, but it is the foundation of your life vision.
For example, your vision might be to have breakfast with your family, go to the gym after work and meditate for 15 minutes in the evening. Now, if you currently leave for work at 6am and return at 8pm, then the career pillar needs to be addressed. Can you see how imagining your ideal day helps you spot the pillars that are out of balance?
You may be able to observe many possibilities for yourself. Remember though, that your life vision is about finding balance. If we want too much in life, we will find it very difficult to find balance.
Here is a simple exercise you can do to find out what matters to you: imagine that you are living through the last moments of your life. Maybe you are in a hospital bed or surrounded by loved ones at home. Ask yourself what would make you feel like you lived a successful life? What would make you feel like you are content to be departing this world? You can write down a few sentences about the things that are meaningful to you, and in doing that you will see what you need to prioritize.
The Steps to Creating a Life Vision
- Do the “Death-bed Exercise” to find out what is truly meaningful to you.
- Ask yourself the following questions and write the answers in as much detail as you can:
- What does health mean to you and what are the activities you plan to do, when and for how long?
- What does a career look like to you and what is the vision you have for yourself regarding it? Do you aspire to freelance, work remotely or work a 9 to 5 at the office? Is there a particular position you want to reach? What impact do you hope to make in your field?
- What do relationships mean to you and how do you want to feel in these relationships? Who are the most significant people in your life? How do you want to spend time with them, and how often?
- What does leisure look like to you and what activities do you gravitate toward? What can you do to make sure the leisure activities you choose are beneficial to you and to the other pillars of your life? What leisure activities are associated with each pillar?
- What does spirituality mean to you and what practices are enough for you? Do you want to pray or practice meditation, or maybe go to the temple on a certain day? Ultimately, what practices help you connect to yourself?
- What is your lifestyle? How does your daily life look? How much time a day do you want to spend on each pillar?
- Consider your answers and assess if your health, career, relationships, leisure and spirituality match your lifestyle. For example, does your career pillar vision accommodate your relationship pillar vision? If your career vision is unrealistic and you put too much pressure on yourself too soon, the other pillars will fall apart. I advised someone on this very matter. She was a manager of a spa. She was very competent at her job and was paid well, but her hours were long. She left for work very early and arrived home late. Her relationship with her partner was neglected because she was very career-focused. An opportunity arose to manage a brand-new spa that was being opened and she was at a crossroads. I asked her to write down her ideal day, which included quality time with her partner as well as her leisure activities. While she wanted to balance her work-life and relationship with her partner, she feared being fired if she turned down the opportunity. I assured her that the owners knew she was a trustworthy, hardworking employee and would not let her go that easily. In the end, it worked out.
We must live what we want to live, not what we have to live.
Write down your vision. Aspire to live it day by day and week by week, creating a lifestyle that works towards a happy life. What you will find is that you may need to adjust your vision, and that is perfectly fine and normal. The secret is that you have to live all the pillars daily and it takes time, trial and error to achieve the right balance for you.
As time marches on you will see what is meaningful for you and what is not. You will find yourself making time for what is meaningful, and unproductive habits will fall away.
Once you create your vision, keep your focus on it and work hard. Your lifestyle will change and you will find happiness and balance in all areas of your life.
In order to balance your spirituality with the other pillars of your life, you can learn more about all the pillars in this blog series:
Relationships: Relationships in Light of Yoga Philosophy
Leisure: Leisure in Light of Yoga Philosophy
Spirituality: Spirituality in Light of Yoga Philosophy