Today’s topic is inspired by the Marvel movie Shang-Chi.
Not sure if you’ve seen it but it made me wonder a few things about life. I did enjoy the movie itself but I did say a lot of my talks would have their inspiration from my daily life, from the most random or simple things because there’s a lot you can do when you pay attention to things.
Let me explain why I got inspired by it. Basically in the beginning of the movie we have two characters, Shaun and Katy. They’re best friends, living their best life. Daytime, they work in a hotel, responsible for parking rich people’s cars and comes the evening, they enjoy karaoke and partying. Very nice. What they didn’t know yet is that they would be in charge of saving the world later on so they would have to give up their nice and easy life.
Before they knew that, they had dinner with one of their friends and that friend started criticizing them about their way of life. That friend is doing pretty well in her life. She’s a lawyer, got married, basically seems to have everything and during that dinner she said that she was genuinely concerned that Shaun and Katy were only parking cars as a job instead of doing something bigger. She said to Shaun “man you’re speaking 4 languages. I can’t believe you’re here parking cars! Life is too short, do something. Do something that matches your potential before it’s too late.”
So without them wanting to become that version of themselves, they find themselves having to become heroes. Nothing to do with what they used to do or who they used to be. And as the movie finishes, we can see that being a hero is a bit of an exhausting life. Shaun does wonder: is this really the life that I get to choose?
And that’s where my question came from. Is it better to enjoy an easy life where you’re extremely happy but with potentially no growth or to live up to your potential but with the risk of never resting and actually forgetting to live the moment and experiencing life? Is there a happiness sacrifice?
I thought that is a question and a bit of a dilemma that was worth thinking and talking about. A lot of my talks are actually also for myself because as much as I give you food for thought, which is the whole point of my podcast, I also give myself that. I don’t always have the answers to my questions but giving them a thought is what makes us grand in the end.
You know we’re always told to do what makes us happy. Do what makes you happy because no one wants to live a miserable life and die, right? Shaun and Katy were very happy before that friend came and started to challenge them. So really, what’s wrong with that? If we’re happy, why should we change or start doing something what someone else told us to do- it’s none of their business. Sometimes we are happy doing nothing. So what’s the problem?
I do what makes me happy and most importantly I don’t let people come in the way of that. However, where I think there is a problem with an easy and happy life is when we only do what we do because we are comfortable with it and we don’t want to go outside of our comfort zone because we are afraid or we don’t want to spend too much energy. That’s where the problem is with me.
Because living to your potential and dreams is exhausting. First, you need to discover your potential and that doesn’t come easy. Finding your potential is a lot of work, it’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of doubt. Sometimes you have your potential but doubt will come and hit you, making you wonder if what you’re thinking of really is your potential. Then you want to give up. And you feel like you can’t find your potential or that even worse, you don’t have any.
It requires a lot of energy, discipline and motivation to go after your dreams- I talked about that in one of my previous episodes talking about motivation and about purpose.
So what do we do when things get tough? We choose what’s easy, ie an easy life. When I say easy life, this is not to confuse with a life where you let things flow and you don’t let yourself get upset with tiny things. Because that is the ultimate goal, that’s what we want at the end of the day. I’m not talking about that.
For me, an easy life in this case is a life where no thinking or no action is involved. A life where we avoid anything that questions our rubbish daily and toxic habits. A life where we use distractions to avoid dealing with the source of our problems. A life where I know writing my essay will get me the life I want but I prefer to watch Netflix and chill. Easy.
What I found is that living an easy and happy life and living up to your dreams are not necessarily incompatible. You’re not missing out on life when you do the latter.
The reason why I asked myself this in the first place is because I truly wondered whether we sacrifice our happiness in a sense when we spend our time chasing after our dreams.
But I came to realise we can do both. We can have it all. Everything in life is about balance.
When we chase our dreams and live up to our potential, we often have to do things we never did before. And this, this is what connects us with life. This reconnects us with the present much more often that we think. Doing new things usually automatically grounds you to the present because a lot of focus is required and where there is focus, there is living and feeling the moment. And where there is living the moment, there is happiness. Maybe not while you’re doing things, but it surely leads to happiness in a way or in another.
Also getting out of our comfort zone is the place we grow. Growth is associated with sense of achievement and achievement is associated with better mood. You feel like you are capable of doing anything. Achievement makes you be a better version of yourself. Whoever tells me they are not content with a better version of themselves, send them to me because that would be a very unusual pattern and I’d be interested to understand it!
Living up to your potential means discovering parts of yourself on a constant basis. It’s opening up to what’s out there. And what’s out there is life. So what a better way to connect with it.
In the same way life is a constant flow of events and circumstances, we are in constant evolution. Just like life.
So when I say we can do both, I say that chasing our dreams does not pull us away from life. It gets us closer to it.
Of course, I get that it’s very easy to get caught in the future, when we think too much about where we need to be and how little we are doing compared to what to expect. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves, which ruins the whole thing. That’s the hard bit.
The secret is to find a way that connects us to the present that doesn’t feel like work and effort. The ideal situation is when we get to a point where doing what we do naturally makes us feel grounded. Stuff like meditation, practising daily gratitude and others makes it easy for us to achieve that.
Be kind to ourselves. That also makes it easier for us. Talk to yourself in a way that makes you feel you don’t have to be a 100% every day. You don’t have to be at your maximum every single day. It’s okay to do things slowly. It’s okay to take rest. It’s okay to go for a walk when what you wanted is work on your project.
It’s even okay to watch a Marvel movie because that will probably leads you thinking of stuff like this episode so it’s not lost. You have my permission!
I’ll just finish with the following. Personally I don’t think I’ll ever stop going after what I want because even if doing that comes with a little sacrifice and I had to be unhappy somehow or temporarily, I’d rather be chasing and be the best version of myself than having it very easy and ending up my life unhappy because I never got to do what I was truly capable of.
I’d just say that in the pursuit of your dreams, please do not forget to live life because otherwise what’s the point?