The Missing Link: Being Active

A handful of posts ago I wrote about turning 30. The idea of the age itself and what scared people about it, but also the reason behind it. I mentioned that it has something to do with realizing your place in the world – this sudden realization that you are a part of something greater than yourself. And for many people, this feeling of not having done what you’ve wanted to do by a certain age, or in general, doesn’t only happen when you turn 30, but is something that people battle daily.
A lot of people in the world are unhappy with their day-to-day. They wake up, go to work, go home, and go to bed. It becomes a routine that maybe they aren’t happy with, but are also at a loss for how to change. For many, work is tiring; it exhausts not only their physical being but also their mind. And most often it’s not because the work itself is that grueling, but because it’s mindless.
I just finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink. It was a fascinating look into what motivates us and what is actually the most productive type of motivation. And, I’ll give you a hint – it’s not what you think. Money isn’t actually what makes people more productive or happy. Filled with studies and statistics, Pink’s thesis is difficult to disagree with. Although I didn’t have an ''ah ha'' moment at this idea that those who are intrinsically motivated are more productive and lead happier lives, I did marvel at all the facts to back up the claim.
The conversational style and how he turned what could be an abstract concept difficult to grasp into digestible and tangible scenarios was brilliant. It’s one of those books that make you want to better yourself. And he not only explores the disconnect between what science says and what businesses do, but he also addresses the human element of what he calls Type I (intrinsically motivated) and Type X (extrinsically motivated).
In the book, there’s this constant circling back to the idea that we start out in this world as active and engaged. But over the years we’re socialized to feel the opposite. I’ve been thinking about this idea since I put the book down. I’ve talked to so many people who want to start doing things, be active and engaged in the world around them – doing things different from their norm: bored by going out to bars, tired of going to the same places, fed up with doing the same thing over and over again. It’s almost like what we all yearn for and what we are missing in our lives is this feeling of what we''re like as children-always on the move and learning new things. How do we get back to the way we saw the world as a child or youngster.  And how would this help us direct our own lives and feel happier.
When people talk about the key to leading a happy life, they talk about focusing on what you have and not what you don’t; thinking about what you want and less about what you don’t want; taking pleasure in the little things. If you think back to when you were a child all of these elements were there. And these thoughts trigger action.
If you focus on all that you have, you’ll start to show your appreciation more. If you realize you love being outdoors, you’re likely to take more walks and enjoy nature. If cooking makes you smile, then you make the time to cook up a storm. Thinking this way triggers you to become active, to engage in the things that make you smile and laugh more. We are most happy when we are doing something, not when we are sitting in front of the television. But the reason it’s so hard to switch from being passive in life to being active is because it’s no longer common. Not many people are doing it. And, well, not many know how. We are so used to following rules and being told what to do, reading ''How To'' books that give us a guideline to achieve a said desire, that it’s easy to forget that there’s not one way that’s going to work for everyone.
If we were to look back at the happiest moments in our childhood or observe old videos of ourselves when we were younger – it may help us to understand how we can take steps to opening ourselves up to changing the way we see the world today. There are a lot of elements that go into leading a happier life – but what it seems we all want to get back to is this feeling of engagement, of doing things. So I guess the question becomes, what’s stopping us?