Meaning | A Manifesto

When did it happen?

That moment…

When we stopped choosing our lives, and began surrendering to them.

When did “busy” become the socially acceptable response to the question of how you have been? When was the moment that we started being rewarded for being busy? When did it become okay to be in a constant, frantic state of mind; never taking the time to step back and decide where WE want our life to go? Reactively living out our days, rather than choosing to fully live them as we truly are. Fully embracing meaning. Fully embracing love. Fully embracing the present moment.

What is busyness anyway? Is it a half-hearted attempt to prove our significance in an ether of disconnection? Or is it simply the easiest thing to say when a real life human being approaches us; looking for connection. How many deep conversations have we wasted because instead of opening up to who we really are; we fold to the easiest expression of life that we all know too well, “I’ve been busy.”
When did we become the slave to our lives instead of…
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…choosing to be its master. Choosing to follow the dream of becoming what we have always wanted to become. Choosing to live a life of fulfillment; rather than one mindlessly following the pack. “For how we spend our days is of course how we spend out lives.”
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The truth is, for most of us, there wasn’t a single moment. That’s what makes it all the more insidious. If there were a single point in time that we faced a decision to live reactively or intentionally, maybe we would be able to stop it. Or at least make the conscious choice, rather than what most always happens…
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…We defer. Saying one day we’ll do it. One day we’ll start the business. Go on the adventure. Or tell them that we love them. Justifying the complacency as a “strategic career move” in order to gain the right amount of “experience.” Always yielding to the demands of our environment. Giving way to the the rapid pace of life without purpose, one small, seemingly meaningless decision at a time. Until we wake up years later (if we ever do), only to discover that we barely even know who we are or want we want anymore. Busy, without a cause. Not acting out our days with intention, but instead always reacting to life. From the moment we first open our phones in bed to the weight we feel as our head hits the pillow at night. Allowing external forces to shape our days and lives.
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We tell ourselves that one day it will be calmer and more meaningful. When we get the job, the car, the house, or the degree. Then we could start living the life we want. But not now. That wouldn’t be practical. So we continue along this path of unconscious living; fully aware of its pervasive nature, but never doing anything to stop it for fear of being termed “unsuccessful” or “lame.” We may even tell ourselves, “hey, it’s not that bad. It’s good experience for my next job.” Never realizing that as we look to the future for redemption we are missing the present moment, which is all we ever have.
Even if it has not hit the breaking point yet, we’ve got to be real with ourselves for a second and ask, “am I okay where this is heading?” Because, with every fleeting moment, we are making a decision about the trajectory of our lives. There is no pause in life. We are either being pulled toward something or away from it. Mindless living, untreated, will create the basis of our very existence…
…We will end up being pulled away from a vibrant life, rather than living one.
You may have never felt the symptoms before. How could we when we didn’t even know the illness existed? The average American will spend 4 YEARS of their life looking down at their cell phone. An entire college experience lost to the passive existence we succumb to when we are living a distracted life. We have lost touch with our tribal instinct of connection. Always looking for the next bar to go to or the next thing to do and never being fully content where we are.
“But that is just the way it is,” we tell ourselves. Surrender your ability to live a life that is fully a part of who you are to the will of the intense pressure to “make it.” We are told to not stop and think deeply about how we want our life to turn out. How could you ever find yourself while traveling and experiencing the world? Be practical; they tell us.
The even larger issue is that individuals and organizations all too often wear it as a badge of honor. Busyness without purpose, taking on more than the next person without regard to whether it matters in order to add a couple points on the scoreboard, in the hopes that it sets us apart during bonus season.
“One may say, albeit in an oversimplifying vein, that people have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have means but no meaning.” – Viktor Frankl
Busying ourselves with work that does not fill us up is not a badge of honor, it is a symptom of an illness that affects far too many people in our world than would ever admit it. If you have made it this far, it is safe to say you are aware of it. Good!
It is time to start a different game.
For we are all here until we go. And the truest reality is that we will never know when the reaper calls our name. No amount of busyness will keep him from coming. Why not choose to live a life that is truly yours?
What if, instead of living our days in a constant state of reactivity, we chose to be the craftsmen of our days. Taking a stand against the never ending demands of others.
What if WE choose what mattered?What if WE choose the job; instead of needing affirmation from others?What if WE decided the speed of life that we wanted?What if WE exchanged expectation for appreciation? Living out lives of gratitude for what we have, instead of running at a frantic pace toward what we want.
There is a better way. But it is up to us to make the decision to live differently, giving ourselves permission to live more fully, and then take action. Without action, a belief is just a dream. Action makes it a reality.
But once we have taken action to disrupt the pattern, how do we build a new foundation that leads to a more intentionally and fiercely abundant life?
Well, over the next 4 weeks I will be detailing the 4 LEGS of the solution. A solution that, with the guidance of teachers, mentors, and friends, I have spent hundreds of hours of my life cultivating. These four legs are the fuel behind starting Fully Rich Life. Without all four, the chair will fall.
I believe these legs. These values. These truths. Will lead everyone to a more vivid and beautiful life.
But, who the hell am I? How can I talk about the solutions that lead to a more rich life? Because, not too long ago, I was you.
A man obsessed with money and success. Always telling myself that I would give back when I made my millions. Never living out of intention, but always living out of desire to be successful. Earning a great salary, having a great job, working the weeks and drinking on the weekends. I used to resent those busier than I was in fear that their treadmill was turned up 1 speed higher than mine was. Then the universe gave me a massive wake up call.
There I was, laying flat on my back, looking up at the buildings. Unable to move. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I had no idea what was happening but my whole world had changed in an instant. Later, I discovered that what I was experiencing was a severe, acute panic attack that would go on to leave me in a constant state of debilitating anxiety for the next 18-months of my life; not knowing if I would make it through each day. I would spend hours puking over the toilet; making sure to tell everyone that it was just a really bad hangover. I dropped out of classes with friends because I was so embarrassed of breaking down in front of them and letting them see how truly empty I was inside. My life was empty. Without meaning. Without Purpose. I wasn’t sure if it would ever get better.
 
When your body rejects your lifestyle, it is time to listen.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. How could I? I had my Senior year of college approaching. It was meant to be a beautiful time of carefree drinking and nights spent reminiscing over the past 4 years and looking forward to a future doing the same. I couldn’t change my lifestyle.
So, instead, I chose to live in a state of deep depression and anxiety that I thought would never end. I was in a constant state of darkness that continually worsened. I had no idea who to go to or what to do about it, so I drank to ease the pain. Brushing it off as okay. “Everyone was doing it,” I told myself. All the while knowing that I needed it just to survive another night out at the bars.

My life was empty. Without meaning. Without Purpose. I wasn’t sure if it would ever get better

Then, it happened. My true bottom. A moment I plan to talk about more in the future, but for brevity I won’t go into depth here, but for context…there I was, a 24-year old man, kneeling on the subway platform grasping for what felt like my last breath. Unable to move or think. It is in these moments when you feel like you have nothing to live for that life becomes a bit clearer. You ask yourself questions like:
Why am I here?
Have I made a difference?
Have I loved fully?
Has my life had purpose?
Who is most important to me and why?
I declared that night on the subway platform that I would no longer be a slave to my life. I would become the maker of my own life. That declaration sparked a small flicker of light inside a soul that had gone dark for so long. This was my declaration. To overcome. To be better. To live more fully. To love completely. I owed it to myself. I owed it to everyone that I loved. Relationships, impact, fulfillment, happiness, love, freedom, joy, humility. These were going to my badges of honor.
My “inciting incident” with life’s biggest questions marked the beginning of my journey to discover what makes a life of meaning. And ultimately led to my recovery and growth. I still struggle every day, but I know that without the struggle, the growth that I have achieved would have been impossible.
I am so grateful to be here today to spread what I have learned along the way with everyone I can. For we all deserve the live amazing, beautiful lives. If I can help one person change their mindset and lead a life of more fulfillment; I have had success.
This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to write. But I know it is also the most important. I know that each and every person reading this has so much potential to live more. To love more. To be more. It is my mission in life to help you realize your own limitless potential.
Please help me spread the message by sharing it with whoever you think would get value out of this post!
With love and gratefulness,
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Ben
This story was written with the direct inspiration of Jonathan Fields’ Unbusy: A manifesto. Please take the time to read it.

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Ben Foley

Author Ben Foley

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  • Donnalyn Harry says:

    Very inspiring

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