The 5 Whys for your Joy-filled Life!
Now comes some harder thinking, some analysing of your joy-filled life. It is important to go through this exercise to get to a deeper understanding of what you are truly looking for in your life.
In order to do this analysis you progressively ask yourself the question Why? five times in relation to one or more items in your joy-filled life description.
In the space below I will first analyse my joy-filled life, and then I will give you an example of a common item people might include in their joy-filled life.
My Joy-filled Life Analysed using the 5 Whys Exercise
Why do I want to live in a small cabin? A small cabin symbolizes simplicity to me, that I have been able to let go of all the extra "stuff" in my life. A small cabin also symbolizes a lower cost of living and less time spent on cleaning & maintenance, in both the short and long term.
Why do I want simplicity, less stuff and lower costs? Well to me a simpler life and less stuff mean greater freedom to live where I want and do what I want. Fewer costs mean that I don't have to make as much money in order to live the way I want to live. I have found that I can save money faster by following the strategy of spending less of what I currently make rather than by figuring out how I can make more money.
Why is a cheaper, simpler life important to me? Well, it means that I can afford to quit a higher paying job in order to move in a new direction in my life without the perceived threat to my brain that I won't be able to live on a smaller income. It ultimately means more freedom to do what I want to do, which at this time in my life is spending more time outside in nature and writing, both of which bring me great joy, and more exercise, which my body needs.
Why do I want to spend more time in nature and to write? Both bring me great joy! More exercise would help me improve my health. Switching careers would also result in greater health, I have only been on holidays for 2 weeks and my physiotherapist said my body is in much better condition than it has been all year! I have also not had the chronic headaches and back pain that accompany me when I am working...might be a connection there. Until I can stop working a priority for me will be to keep my work from affecting my body's health negatively.
Why do I want to experience great joy? It's what I live for...no one wants to be unhappy so I need to make sure that whatever I do in life, even if it is not a step towards a specific detail in my joy-filled life, that it is always towards More Joy. This is not to say I will not work towards the larger dream, only that sometimes I won't have the time or energy for the bigger dream, and will have to ensure I create More Joy in a small way in the meantime.
You'll notice I have only analysed one piece of my joy-filled life...why I wanted to live in a cabin. There will be several items in my joy-filled life that will distil down to wanting More Joy in my life and after I have done this with the cabin I should be able to identify those others similar pieces. There will be other points however, that will not be so clear and I recommend you go through the 5 Whys exercise to help you determine their role in your joy-filled life. This will give you a more rounded understanding of what you want for your life and why. It is important to understand the whys of what you want because you might actually be able to meet that underlying need in a way you hadn't previously thought of, and you might be able to meet that need in a simpler way than you think. For instance if your joy-filled life included travelling the world have you considered a career where you travel as part of your job or travelling and living like the locals at your destinations...both would be rich in experiences that other ways of travel might not offer.
Money: If money appeared in your joy-filled life it is very important to figure out why it is there, what role it is playing. A lot of people have complicated relationships with money and until you figure out what that relationship is it can get in the way of you living a joy-filled life. It is important to see money as a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Why do you want a specific amount of money...or more money than you could possibly spend in your lifetime? If you want lots of money so you don't have to worry about it for the rest of your life understand that many rich people have as many or more money worries than those with less money...the more you have the more you worry about losing. If you want money so you can spend your life helping people then you are in fact letting money get in the way of you helping people...because you can help people now...don't let a lack of money worries stop you. Also realise that helping others is one of the best ways to put your own life challenges in perspective, decrease your focus on yourself, decrease your worries and live a joy-filled life. If you want money so you have specific experiences in life reflect on other ways you can meet that need. If you want money to pay down your debts realize that there are a great number of things you can do today, with the amount you make now, to decrease your debts.
Have you considered losing everything? A few years ago friends of ours were attempting to complete the building of their custom environmentally-friendly home. The costs were already double what the original estimate had been and it was only half completed. Their home-based business was thriving and expanding, but even one biological disaster could send them spiralling downward. At the time they were going through these challenges we had a discussion about the positive side of losing everything. Sometimes losing everything is a blessing in disguise as it gives you the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. You get to walk away from all the stress and heartache of the previous few years of being in over your head, and show your children that having nothing can actually be freeing when compared to what was being experienced by your entire family before.
Owning a house is not always the answer to money woes because the cost of owning is often much higher than the cost of renting when you take into account all costs. When you add in the lack of mobility caused by owning a home in a particular area, it does not often make sense for those just getting by, or those who would consider moving for a better job prospect. "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin is a great resource to help you make these types of decisions.
Okay, your turn. Use the 5 whys exercise to analyse your joy-filled life, then share in the comments area something you think would be useful for others to know based on your analysis.
Both "Voluntary Simplicity" by Duane Elgin and "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin are highly suggested reads for you if you wish to walk the path to a simpler life. Both were life-changing for me and resulted in being able to pay off all my debts quickly, keep from buying more "stuff" and let go of "stuff" I already had.