What does living an extraordinary life mean to you? World travel? Sky diving? Writing a best-selling novel?
These life experiences and accomplishments are exciting. But what about all of the life in between these peak experiences? Don’t we want each day to be extraordinary?
The Happiest Day of My Life
John Wood, one of the founders of Room to Read, was trekking in Nepal and came across a school with a library, but no books. John found a way to help, involving 3,000 books, a father son adventure, six donkeys, and the “happiest day of my life”.
Interestingly, the happiest part for John was not the adventure in Nepal, but the looks on the faces of the young children. These memories still bring him joy to this day.
Your extraordinary life does not have to involve trekking to Nepal. Here are some ideas to help you get started in smaller but meaningful ways.
3 Steps Toward Your Extraordinary Life
#1 Music Makes Everything Better
Music can take the drudgery out of everyday chores – like the endless task of picking up toys and clothes from your children or grandchildren. Or cleaning out your neglected garage or basement. A woman I met years ago had a simple solution.
First, she would put on her headphones (or airpods), because that made the music more intense and gave her more energy. Then, with her favourite music playing, she would dance around her home doing the pickup, as she called it. This made a little fun out of her chores.
You could also get lost in some fascinating music trivia like A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs. The history, video clips and details about famous musicians’ lives is hard to put down once to start. Thank you to Seth Godin, for this idea. He got hooked quite quickly.
Check out this clip of Myles Frost, playing Michael Jackson in the current award-winning play, MJ The Musical. After watching this clip, you may want to even resurrect your old moonwalk imitation (or not).
#2 Curiosity is An Unbearable Thrill
Feed your curiosity and make it grow.
There is a wealth of amazing information out there in our big world that is moving and easy to find. Books, blogs, websites and videos by the millions. And your friend Google can show you where they are.
You can dive as deep into this material as you want.
The idea is not to push yourself. You don’t have to study this material and bring back the horrors of exam time. In fact, this will sap your interest and motivation and make you want to give up. But it does help to be a little organized with your deep dives.
And when something moves you, make some simple notes so you can find your way back. You could list a few pros and cons, give the material a thumbs up or down or use a star rating like the film critics do.
By starting with such small steps, you will feel like you are making a some progress, instead of feeling bogged down and overwhelmed by too much to learn.
My wife and I loved watching the 75th Annual Tony Awards on television. Many of the performances were breathtaking. Arianna DeBose, the host, displayed effortless cool. Just like in West Side Story (the recent movie), her dancing was flawless.
The Tony’s also showed a tribute to the composer Stephen Sondheim. I particularly liked a few quotes from him. “To have a job where you get to be curious about everything would be an unbearable thrill “. And creating plays and music throughout his life gave him that thrill.
A curious attitude toward everyday life can brighten and expand your life experiences. This can include learning about new ideas and new ways of seeing things. Opening your mind and your heart can be very exciting. There is a big world out there, filled with fascinating things you could never have imagined. It is hard to beat the first-hand experience from travel. But in between your journeys, YouTube can offer many surprises.
Learning more about people you meet or even those in your personal life can also be surprising and help create deeper connections. Here is how Deborah Voll, writing for Sixty and Me, explains the many benefits.
“Being interestED is such an attractive quality. You shine a light on people when you are interested in them. You energize them and empower them.” This really is a superpower we can use with everyone we meet. This doesn’t have to involve selfless acts of kindness – though they are often needed. Lighting up other people with your interest and attention really is a win-win for everyone. You will feel uplifted in the process.
#3 I Want to Do Something Meaningful but Where Do I Start
According to Michael Laprise, from Cirque du Soleil,
“You have to embrace the joys and fulfillment of life-long learning “.
I am a big fan of Cirque de Soleil and read that they have put some of their work online. No, I am not recommending acrobatics as a new skill to learn for those of us in our retirement years. But, one of their videos did hit home with me.
Here is Michael Laprise’s introduction to the video below.
“You have to embrace the excitement of constantly learning.
Creativity isn’t an outcome, it’s a process.
Step inside Michel Laprise’s creative universe and discover his passion for creation and for constantly challenging the creative status quo. Covering a wide range of themes such as creativity, artistry and leadership, this original series showcases Cirque du Soleil creators and artists as they open up and share their passion, experiences and learnings.“
Take a step behind the curtain into a world where creativity flourishes freely. The joys and fulfillment of life-long learning – at your own pace, can enhance almost any part of your life.
For me, the best way to learn is with movement – learning by doing, at your own pace, under your own direction.
Movement can help us overcome the anxiety and resistance of starting something new. For example, we may be uncertain about committing to a new type of volunteer work.
The best way to move forward to find the smallest step to take and then to take it. This might include a visit, or a few days of following others around. This type of movement will help you to know if this is right for you. These few steps will also be the fastest way to move on to your next idea if this one doesn’t work out.
There are lots of ways to do something meaningful with the rest of your life and it is really easy and fun to get started.
And for any one in their mid or later years, following any one of these ideas can make you feel young again – almost right away.
You can feel young again by stimulating your mind and your heart. You can feel young again by being useful, productive and maybe even powerful in your own way.
If you feel brave and if you want to feel like a really young person, go to DoSomething.org. This energetic organization describes themselves as A youth-led movement for good.
DoSomething is full of stories about young people wanting to improve the world and backing up their desire with action. The website is full of simple inspiring tips on how to make a difference. You can read and learn or sign up and join their movement.
Here are some examples from DoSomething.org.
Important contributions can be as simple as picking up cigarette butts – 3.7 million have been collected so far.
Or you can take steps to tackle big issues like racism and hunger. DoSomething offers many ways to contribute.
One of my favourites is 8 ways to show up for your loved ones and community on Valentine’s Day.
But before you jump into the deep end, there is an even simpler first step you can take. You can check out my free eBook,
How To Feel Younger in Your Retirement Years
Just open my main website page and subscribe. Or if you prefer not to subscribe, send me an email at michael@aWarmHeart.ca and I will send you a copy, right away.
The Common Thread
To me, an extraordinary life is one that is filled with emotion – excitement, tears of joy, a sense of awe.
I think the secret sauce involves activities and even ideas that bring us energy and excitement. One of the hard parts can be choosing where to start. But, the best way to overcome this indecision and inertia is to figure it out by doing.
Start walking even if it is down the wrong road. Find a wingman to help you take the first few steps or offer to be a wingman for someone else who is doing something you think is worthwhile.
What’s gets your heart pounding or makes you well up with pride? How can you stir up powerful emotions that make you glad to be alive? Can you think of ways to share such emotion and connection with others, making you both more joyful?
Until next time, let our warm hearts soar!
And thank you for caring that little bit extra – it really makes a big difference.