A good life Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Friday, 18 February 2022 18:04
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What makes a good life? This is the question Amy Ahlers asked herself when her grandmother passed away and she started putting photo boards together for the celebration of life ceremony.

The 20-year-old Amy was looking through photos from all the seasons of her grandmother’s long life: Pictures of a laughing little girl, a young woman beaming in white gloves, a mother throwing infamous parties and the elder that Amy knew.

“Fast forward to being a woman in mid-life, that question continues to emerge in my consciousness,” Amy says. “How can I make my life a good life? How can I make my life count?”

She says that the answer to these questions lies in investigating who and what truly matters to you “so that when you take your last breath, no matter the struggles, failures and disappointments, you know you’ve lived a good life”.

You begin this exploration by asking yourself how you define a good life. What do you want to be remembered for? How does, or doesn’t, your daily life align with what you value most? We don’t really ask these questions when we find ourselves in echo chambers – the places where we’re surrounded with like-minded people who echo a certain outlook back at us. Family, friends and our community tend to sustain a very specific perspective of the world.

So, how do you challenge the echoes? Madisyn Taylor says that the maps and travelogues provided by others are great blessings, full of useful information and inspiration, but they cannot take the journey for us. Maps are based on observations from the past and we are living in the present, so we are the only true experts on our journey.

“We may find that the road travelled by our predecessors is now closed. We may feel called to change direction entirely so that the maps we have been carrying really no longer apply. These are the moments when we learn to attune ourselves to our inner compass, following a map that only we can see, as we make our way into the unknown territory . . .”

Maybe you don’t like unknown territory and feel safe in your echo chamber. Reniel Anca says that we were all conditioned to pursue external validations, acceptance, approvals and respect in a bid to ‘fit in’. No wonder many of us struggle with being a people pleaser.

Being a people pleaser is not the same as being a nice person, says Reniel. In a way, people pleasers are dishonest because they tend to cover up their own feelings, avoid speaking up to steer clear of confrontation and agree to plans they’re not actually interested in. If you’re one, the people around you are probably confused. They don’t get to see the real you.

According to Reniel there are five ways to overcome being a people pleaser. Self-awareness: Know who you are, what your thoughts, motivations, beliefs and fears are.

Say no: Make a conscious effort to say no when you want to say no. Replies: Learn not to make speedy replies when asked for a favour. Learn to say, “Let me get back to you”.

Self-love: People pleasers often don’t really like themselves, because they constantly ignore what they want and so are always in conflict with themselves. Authentic: Practice how to communicate your genuine feelings because hiding them keeps your relationships very superficial.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others, but you have to risk disappointing them – even enraging them. Leah Guy says that you shouldn’t automatically jump to ‘fix’ the other person. You first have to look at the parts of yourself that are unresolved.

“Those parts of us are seeking a fix or a hit,” she says. “Often that looks like seeking validation outside of ourselves, trying to fix others, codependency, guilt, or shame that is resonating with the difficult pattern of the other. It is very easy to just look at the other person and the problems they have or the behaviour they bring, and harder to recognize that relationships serve as a mirror to a point.”

So, what do you see in this mirror, girlfriend? Dare to look. Do you see something that really matters to you? Something that will make your life a good one? You are the only one truly qualified to answer this question.

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