I’ve always been very inspired by the Olympics and Olympians in particular. Their determination is incredible. They make immense sacrifices to go for gold but when they win any medal it all seems worth it.
That got me thinking about how to win gold at life. In a way, life can be a bit like trying to win a medal; you want to get to the end and know it was all worth it and you‘ve done your very best. However, the Olympics are all about one or two big moments, I believe the way to win gold at life is to make the effort to be happy every day.
Here are my insights for having a gold medal happy life.
1. Know what’s important to you
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. You can’t work towards what you want if you don’t know what it is, and it’s so easy to get that wrong. One method for finding out what that is, is the “rocking chair test”. Imagine yourself to be a 100 years old, in your rocking chair enjoying some well-earned rest. You look back on your life, perhaps you have a scrapbook in your hand. What would you like to be looking back on? What do you want to have achieved, what do you want to be remembered for?
We do this because it’s much easier for people to look backwards than it is to look forward. It easier to remember the past than it is to imagine the future. Of course, we are imaging the future, but to do it as the “rocking chair test” helps our brains focus on how we would like to be remembered and by who?
2. Try and do what’s important every day
The Olympians train for hours every day to have a chance at a gold medal. For them and for you, it isn’t possible to just be happy every day, but always ask yourself whether what you’re doing is helping you to achieve your goals? Is what I’m doing now going to make me happy, now or in the future?
If you want to remembered as a great family member, you don’t have to spend every waking moment with your family, but you do have to make time for them every day. If you want to have 50 bestselling novels, you don’t have to publish all of them today, but you do have to write every day. Whatever your thing is, do a little bit of work towards it daily.
Like the Olympians, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t expect to) win a medal every day, but you have to keep training. Some small effort today will make a big difference tomorrow or the day after that. What are you doing about the things that are important to you today?
3. Realise that life is too short
Even a 100 years is not a long time. It might seem like a long time thinking about it now, but why do some many people get to the end of their life, or their child’s 18th birthday, or even the end of the week, and say “where did the time go?”
Life is short and it races past us. Don’t put up with crap.
It’s ok to not be happy 100% of the time. So-called “negative” emotions and dealing with them is equally important, but if you find something is constantly negatively affecting you, change it.
Don’t waste time on things that don’t ultimately make you happy. If you hate something, even if it was your dream, if it’s bad the vast majority of time, you have to address that.
4. Be kind
Time and time again, when you ask people about what’s important to them, they say “making a difference” or something similar. Being kind is the way to do that. Stop and help someone pick up something they dropped. Do the shopping for your elderly neighbour.
These might seem like small things, but the gratitude will fuel you for days, and the small kindnesses get passed on and multiply. You might not be able to afford to give a homeless person money, but you always can spare a smile. That might seem small to you, but you’ve acknowledged them as a human being. In a world where everybody else pretends they can’t even see them, that’s a big thing.
But, you have to be careful. Being kind doesn’t mean saying yes and giving everything you have. You have to be kind to yourself as much as to others. Recognise that if you make sure you are in a good place, you can help others meet their own struggles.
In my opinion, winning gold at life isn’t just about crossing the finish line. We all cross life’s finish line eventually, so it’s about how you and the people around you feel when you do.