LONDON: Have you ever gone to an event where you felt like a complete glutton just because you were eating a regular meal? Each time I’ve been to a lunch or dinner in Karachi, I see a woman, dressed to the nines, playing with a little piece of lettuce or chicken in her plate. She then puts it down, claiming she’s completely full. I can’t help but feel a mixture of awe and well, pity — awe for the complete self-restraint and pity because I wonder if she truly enjoys the moment at all.
I’m left wondering why she works so hard to look so “perfect.” A close friend of mine then explained the kind of work that goes into maintaining this image: Starving a week before to fit into the dress, hours of work at the salon, the spending, etc. Of course, this is understandable if this was a one-off event. However, what I noticed is that this is a daily occurrence — a seemingly exhausting way of life.
If someone puts this much energy into looking good, I wonder what they have left over to actually feel good, or live a fulfilling life. To be brutally honest, we all have a limited amount of energy, and we must choose what to focus on, and when. If we focus our energies only on the outside, the inside will suffer.
Who do you know whose life appears to be picture perfect, but the reality is quite different? Looking good on the outside will make us feel good, but only in the short-term. We cannot maintain this without excessive effort. This is why looking good can be such a struggle when we’re not genuinely happy — how things really are, become apparent in the long run. But if we did some genuine work on ourselves, the positive results will show. Looking good would be the genuine result of living a more fulfilling life.
Creating a fulfilling life has three very important external benefits: First, we look good naturally and exude positive energy; second, we accept and love ourselves for who we are; and third, understanding that being with people could be a genuinely enjoyable experience.
Fulfilment takes effort and is not something that’s achieved overnight. However, the effort will be worth it in the long run. You will be happier! Begin your journey today by reflecting on one area of your life. Choose the one area that you feel would make the biggest overall difference to your life, once improved. For example, your relationship, work, social life, friendships, the choice is yours. Ask yourself the following questions:
On a scale from 1-10, how fulfilled am I in ____________right now?
Why have I chosen this number?
Where, on the scale, would I really like to be?
How would I know that I got this result? What would I see and experience in my life?
Next, set yourself up to three tasks that will help you achieve where you wish to go. For example, if it’s work related, then choose small tasks such as creating a business plan, or completing your resume. Ensure that these are things that you can do yourself. Remember, this is about taking action on what will really make you happy. It will take energy and effort, but you will be the one to reap the benefits.
If all of it seems overwhelming, then break the steps down. Start small and each time you have success, celebrate it before you move on to the next step. Do ask for help when you require it. Share your goal with people you trust — those who will encourage you along the way. Each time you get a little bit closer, your focus towards your goal will be stronger.
Sayeda Habib is a life coach who empowers her clients to create a fulfilling, happier life. To find out more on coaching, or to work with Sayeda, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email email@example.com
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2012.