Ed: Surviving a sudden cardiac arrest can be a life-changing event for many, a change that is forced upon us. But perhaps with that change comes an opportunity. An opportunity to reevaluate our lives and embrace a different direction. With this in mind, I consulted my good friend, Mike, mindfulness teacher and coffee fan who likes to ponder the wonders of life.
This is what he came up with…
Clearing out the closet
Have you ever cleared out your wardrobe and found you couldn’t decide whether to throw something out or not?
Try asking this question – “If I saw this in a charity shop for £1, would I buy it again?”
I first heard my partner use it, and have adopted it ever since.
Now, how many clothes are in your cupboards that you never wear?
Are there clothes that no longer fit you physically?
And what about those you’ve outgrown because fashions have changed or you’ve changed?
Why do we let them sit and take up space in our drawers?
It’s not just clothes that we grow out of over time.
During the lockdown, amongst all the surprises that came with living in a pandemic, was the shock that my girlfriend and I had been living in the same house for twenty years. Where the hell had all that time gone? What happened to just ‘staying for four or five years before moving somewhere new?
Decamping to a coffee shop with a pad and pen, we asked ourselves a lot of questions. And just like throwing open the doors to the wardrobe full of clothes that we’ve outgrown or that no longer suit us, we held up every aspect of our day to day lives and asked “Does this still fit us? Would we choose it again?”
It was eye-opening, to say the least.
As someone who teaches people for a living how to reduce stress and live more mindfully, I saw areas in my own life I was living on autopilot. I saw just how many opportunities to live a more adventurous life had been right under our noses all along.
I’ve distilled that afternoon’s soul searching down to two simple questions. I’ve shared these questions since then with different groups of friends, and each time they’ve started some great conversations.
I’d like to share them with you too.
Imagine you could briefly move out of your current home, releasing all the value that’s tied up in it, whether you own it or rent it. And to that, you add any money you have in savings or valuables. With all that money sitting in a pile right in front of you, would you buy or rent the same home again?
If not, where would you live?
Would it be in the same town?
The same country?
And if you answered yes, would you have it exactly the same as it is, or would you make any changes?
Take a few minutes over your answer.
What would you do if you felt more able to choose again?
Imagine that you had all the same skills, qualifications, experience and contacts as you do now, but that briefly, you could step out of your daily routine. If you could choose again, would you take the same job, at the same company?
If you’re self-employed, would you do the same thing, or have the same customers?
And if you’re not working, would you fill your day with the same activities you do now?
Again, if not, what would you be doing instead?
Where, with whom?
And if you answered yes, would you spend your time exactly as you are now, or would you make any changes?
And take a few minutes over the answer.
If you answered ‘no’ to either question above, or chose ‘yes, but with some changes, then there’s a third question you can ask.
What would have to happen for that move or that change to take place?
Again, take a few minutes to really answer the question.
Just like the clothes we’ve outgrown in our wardrobes, choices we made in the past may have suited us then, but we change over time, and our needs change too. These questions can help us check that where we live and how we’re living are still the best choices for us now.
In my own case, asking these questions made us see that neither of us would buy the same property again if we had the choice right now, but as we did have it, we had a number of options to travel more. We also found we were both missing elements from our former careers, and although we wouldn’t (and couldn’t) necessarily go back to those jobs, we would start finding ways to bring those elements back into our current lives.
I hope these questions spur some interesting ideas and conversations for you too.