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Monday, September 26, 2011

Finding Your Oasis: Turning Life Into Luxury

We all seek a safe, pleasurable life, or moment in life.  We all seek an oasis of comfort, safety and well-being.  Finding our own oasis is a quest, and it is a quest that is individual.

This article, on finding your own oasis, is really about you, so to confuse things, and to appear completely narcissistic, I want to start by talking about me.  About what I regard as being important.  About what my dreams are.  About my beliefs.  About the things I do.  And, most significantly, about to whom I relate and love.

Actually, I intend to do very little of what I have just claimed.  Quite simply, I approach life with a maximum focus on living it, and a minimal focus on owning it.  I rent life.  And my supplier makes no promises to me!  That is the basis on which I operate.  Do, feel and live it now!  That is, be and do the best you can be, today.

What each of us deems to be “the best” is extremely subjective.  However, there are a few very definite principles that should guide our direction.  I would like, in this introductory article on “finding your oasis,” to elaborate on those concepts, and help you to discover that idyllic spot – figurative or literal – in this world that is meant just for you.  This quintet of canons are: 1) Know what is important to you.  We evolve throughout our life, so what is important may change periodically.   2) Have a dream.  Better yet, have dreams! 3) Believe in something, energetically.  Stand up for your beliefs, too.  4) Live life, and do so with commitment. 5) Love life, and the things in it.  Even love that which you hate.

I began by threatening to talk about me. I find that difficult, since I have been indoctrinated with the belief that I should always place others first, and that modesty requires that I not talk about myself.  It is a belief that I have analysed, and found that, even though it was impregnated in me as a child, by my parents, it still remains true.  That is the beauty of adulthood.  I can choose to embrace or reject those tenets and moral imperatives that others hold to be absolute.  I can make the choice as to what principles will guide my actions and thoughts.  It is choice , in itself, that impacts on our drive to seek a sanctum or haven from the rest of the world.

According to psychologist, Dr. Richard Lazarus, "Stress resides neither in the situation nor in the person.  It depends on a transaction between the two."  Yet, one of the primary reasons that people cite as to why they may want to escape from a situation, a circle of influence, a way of life or a job is that they are stressed.  And, combining a lack of control over our stressful situation with a lack of tools to deal effectively with stress seems to heighten that need to seek relief from the stressor.  Occupational psychologist, Cary Cooper, suggests that even the new technologies that should have been relief mechanisms for stress are contributing to greater stress on individuals.

So, since stress seems to play the pivotal role in our need to “find our oasis,” many of my future articles will examine ways to deal with that stress.

Much of the lives of many of us is spent doing things that we loathe, or, at least, would prefer to not be doing.  The majority of us, for example, count the seconds until the end of the workday, because we are labouring at a task that we do not enjoy.  We either have to “suck it up” and endure, leave the job, or discover ways to turn the tasks into fun.  That is the essence of one scene in the Mary Poppins musical.  We should, regardless of our job or circumstance, be seeking out those things that are important to us, and embracing them, while, at the same time, finding significance in what we do.

For some of us, ironically, the most important thing is money, and we are willing to endure unpleasant consequences in the pursuit of it.  My wife and I live a life of voluntary simplicity, living with the minimum of acquisitions.  In my blog on Lean and Green Living, I elaborate, though, on some of the stressors that such a lifestyle generates, even though the way of living is intended to reduce stress.  If money is that important, then you need to find ways to achieve the goal of acquisition, in order to find your own oasis.  However, a word of caution:  money, most often, is not the objective.  It is what that money signifies, so look deeper, to find the truly important things that you believe that money provides.

Hand in hand with discovering what is important to you is understanding and elaborating upon what your dreams may be.  Dreams are viewed as being distant goals, rather than immediate rewards.  In fact, dreams can be close at hand, or even instantaneous.  My dream is to share a way to live harmoniously, with every one of nature’s gifts, free of intolerance, and to live magnanimously.  While I have not reached that goal (and never will, since the goal constantly moves, and I frequently stumble), I have enriched my life by keeping that dream in focus.

The third tenet in finding our unique oasis is to believe in something, energetically.  I believe in the idea that, in everything I possess, ownership is transient.  Therefore, since I also believe that I am “my brother’s keeper,”  I should not waste or frivolously destroy what I have been given, and should, indeed, seek to improve what I possess before passing it on.  Tied with each of the other four canons of living, I spend much of my leisure time exploring energy and conservation concepts, in the hope that I can improve on what is available currently.  It may be vain, but it is satisfying.

How many of us live our lives with commitment?  How many of us passively watch our lives expire?  By doing little to rescue ourselves, we contribute to our stress and our feelings of being lost and helpless.  Stand up and be counted.  You may be standing up on the side opposite me, but that neither makes you right or wrong.  It makes you dedicated and enthusiastic about that which you choose to embrace, and that takes you a step closer to finding your oasis.

Lastly, we need to love life, and everything in it.  My severed finger, or my long-distant failed marriages, or my infrequent financial crises may not be pleasant, but they reveal to us that we are not observers of life: we are participants, and we should as eagerly endure these hurdles as we do those special, wonderful moments in life, that occur far more frequently than the bitter ones.

There is no one answer to how all of us achieve the goals and objectives outlined in our guide to finding our own oasis.  There are thousands of ideas and routes, as well as side trails and detours.  Nonetheless, when we set out on the journey toward our oasis in the desert, we will already have begun to find it.

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