Published on tinybuddha.com
“You must make your dream a priority in order for it to become your life.” – Bob Proctor.
I am sitting in the courtyard of the little place I’ve just moved into, an old washhouse separate from a beautiful big Victorian house, by the coast in Cornwall.
The washhouse is no bigger than a shed; it consists of a living space and a wet room.
I sleep on a day bed, which doubles as my sofa. My neat, compact kitchen is approximately two steps from my bed/sofa, and the wet room houses a shower, toilet, and sink.
I’m thirty-two, and I can’t afford to buy new clothes, I can only sporadically eat out and buy coffee (my two favourite vices), I have to be mindful of how often I fill up my gas tank, and I can’t afford to rent anywhere bigger than a shoebox.
I’m single and I have no money to spare, but I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have been in a long time.
This is far from bragging or undermining the struggle of being broke.
Don’t get me wrong, I hope these things aren’t forever—that one day I can live a life that’s aligned with what makes me happy and make money from it, meet the man of my dreams, and afford to live in a big, beautiful house.
But right now, despite being on my own and poor, being true to myself is making me happier than being with the wrong guy (just so I’m not on my own) or working in the wrong job (just so I can buy things I don’t really need).
To reach this point, it’s taken a fair bit of faffing about the last couple of years—getting into relationships with the wrong guys, taking jobs that I didn’t really want, moving around and trying things out—and I’ve got plenty more to learn. But I have finally committed to not compromising on what feels 100 percent right.
If you too have decided to commit to a life that is utterly authentic, here are a few suggestions that may help you stay happy and open to possibilities.
Be thankful for what you do have—and actively work toward more.
Being poor isn’t easy, nor is worrying about how you’re going to pay the rent, especially if you have others to look out for. There is no denying this, but focusing on how tough the hard things are isn’t going to help you get out of your situation. In fact, this will only keep you stuck.
What helps us move forward is appreciating what we have and then leveraging that positive energy to actively work toward more.
I remember someone introducing me to the idea of the law of attraction a few years ago, and I thought, Great! That’s easy. Think about something I want and it will show up. Awesome. Then I wondered why, weeks later, Bradley Cooper hadn’t shown up at my door.
How naive (and kind of arrogant) to think that, through magical mind power alone, the law of attraction would deliver what I wanted. There is a real danger in thinking you deserve something and wishing for things to be different, but not actively working for it.
Sitting in a room, fantasising about something awesome happening, wishing things were different, but not leaving that room to actively pursue those changes is as productive as staring at a spoon, wishing for it to bend.
At the beginning of this year I started to keep a gratitude list for each month. It started with vague list items—the sun shining, a kind word someone said.
But the more I learned how to pay attention—the more I practiced looking for things, inviting in opportunities and connections—the more my lists grew, and the things to be thankful for became more and more significant.
Because I was creating positive energy through my gratitude practice, and putting that positive energy into the world, I was able to get some of my articles and reviews published, I connected with inspirational public figures, and I received invitations to run workshops at festivals.
By recognising, actively looking for, and creating experiences and opportunities to be thankful, we undoubtedly attract more awesome things into our lives. It’s like a domino effect.
So, despite being poor and single, right now I feel extremely and genuinely lucky for so much, even though it may appear, on the outside, that I have very little.
Be aware of your excuses.
When I was in my last job, I felt like the work I was doing was made up. It had no significance; it made no difference to the world. As soon as that feeling set in, that was it; I couldn’t turn it off.
I could ignore it every now and again and focus on my excuses for why I needed to stay in that job—how would I pay the rent, what would I do, what would it look like on my CV, who would I be letting down if I quit.
But each time the feeling popped up, the strength of my excuses started to dilute, until I had no excuses left… and I quit.
Life really is short and precious. No fear-based excuse under the sun is worth losing a precious day over.
If you’re not happy, change something. If you’re unfulfilled in your job, do something different. If you’re with the wrong person, don’t settle for it. If you’ve always wanted to try, be, or do something else, but it might mean a pay cut or demotion, take the risk.
Your happiness is the most important thing. Being a happy, fulfilled human being means you can contribute so much more to those around you; you can be a better partner, parent, friend, and colleague.
No one can argue that a happy person is better than a stressed out, unhappy, unfulfilled person—in all situations and for all involved, including yourself.
If you’re a parent or have others to care for, this may seem overly simplified. I understand that there are more challenges for those with more responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some changes in your life.
Allowing yourself to be happy doesn’t have to mean being reckless, making drastic, life-altering changes, or living in a shoebox like me. For you, it might mean finally enrolling in a photography course, or asking a friend to babysit for an hour so you can take a dance class.
Whatever your unique situation, don’t let your excuses get in the way of your happiness.
Trust the process.
Right now I have to believe that if I keep moving forward on the path I am creating for myself and stay true to it, it will all work out for the best. It just feels right.
I am sure it won’t turn out as I’d planned or imagined, but I trust that if I keep going, keep letting things organically evolve, keep saying yes to the right things, keep making new connections and inviting in experiences and synchronicities, it will all work out.
No one can predict the future, but if we trust the process, we’ll be better able to stay present and focused, and to take the action steps that will help us create a favorable outcome.
I decided to strip my life back to make it simple, cheap, and basic in order to create space to pursue my dream. For the first time in my life, sitting here in this pretty, little, simple space, it feels like I am living a life that is wholly authentic—and I can’t wait for what shows up next.