We all dream about a perfect life, don’t we? A life that is filled only with joy, happiness, love and fulfillment; a life that gives more than it takes; a life in which you spend a lot of time with your loved ones, you work on projects and businesses that you adore, you are fit and healthy, and all your material needs are met. Is it possible? Well yes and no.
It’s okay to dream about your perfect life, that’s the only way you could possibly get it, but if you spend your life not accepting when things go south, you got this whole “perfect life” idea wrong. Happiness is really not about having it all, it’s about making the most out of what you got, looking at the bright side and enjoying every single moment of this wonderful thing called life.
I encourage you to believe and search for examples of people that have it all. It is possible to be successful, to be healthy, to have a loving wife and wonderful kids, to be fit, to contribute to a better world and to travel. BUT, there’s a big “but(t)”: don’t fool yourself to believe that if you have all the above, you will be instantly happy. Happiness is not something that you get, it is a way of life, it’s a skill, it’s something that can be learned and developed; it is who you are, not what you have!
Roswitha and I have over six years of relationship and, as you can imagine, we’ve grown together and learned from each other. Although we had a great connection before, it wasn’t until we started to invest time in developing ourselves, that our relationship moved to the next level. Probably the book that had the biggest impact was “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
Because we do everything together: live, cook, work, workout, have fun, etc., we had to find ways to make our lives easier and fun. Working together every single day on common projects makes our life a bit different than what most couples experience. We know most people do not understand (especially not our parents), but we do work around 6-10 hours every day: we run a business (two actually) and also work on building our personal brand, and if you want lasting results, it takes time and effort.
Below I will outline some of the things that we do on a regular basis to become happier, accomplish our dreams and live the life of our dreams.
1. Cooking for Two
I can say that cooking is a very important aspect of our everyday life. Part because we like to eat healthy, organic and part because I want to get to 80kg (about 176 pounds) and Roswitha wants to stay fit. More than six months ago we decided to eat more vegetables and in turn, less meat. Even though we thought about becoming vegetarians, we realized that we like the idea of “eating everything, in moderation” more.
For me, cooking was a big “no no” until 2012 when I worked as a cook assistant in a Mexican restaurant. Even though it was only for 3 months (at 70-80 hours/week), it was enough to make me curios about cooking and how I can experiment with it. After that summer, I became an expert in omelets and spicy food.
What do we eat every day? Well, for breakfast we always have a cup of green tea with granola (which are purchased separately and combined by us).
For lunch and dinner, there are endless possibilities, but some of the common things we eat are: lentils, mushrooms, zucchini, rice, beans (all kinds of), avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, meat, corn, etc. Here’s a cool recipe that we tried last week!
Snacks: fruits, oats with yoghurt, nuts, almonds, seeds, baby carrots, etc.
2. Daily Dose of Exercising
Even though we are a couple for over six years, we do have different views about exercising!
She is not used to exercising and moving her body every single day. For her, working out is more like a means to an end: you work out, get to your desired results and then you are happy, so you can stop going to the gym. And I don’t blame her (I just “force” her to get out of her comfort zone) because although she likes sports, she never practiced one on a regular basis.
I see it a bit differently: I see it as a way of life. Okay, don’t get me wrong here: I go to the gym to build my body, become stronger and more confident, and eventually to look better than Marc Fitt, but that shouldn’t be your only goal. If that’s is your “why” you might get very frustrated and disappointed while pursuing your goal.
A more fulfilling “why” would be: I go to the gym every day (or do other kinds of workout/sport) because:
- I feel more alive when I do that,
- I get a lot of energy,
- I build a healthier mind,
- I connect with myself,
- I can think clearer after I work out,
- I build my character,
- I become stronger,
- I gain confidence,
- I meet new people,
- I eliminate stress and negative energy,
- I become healthier if I exercise daily,
- I choose to live a more active life,
- because that’s who I am and I can inspire people through this.
We really need to workout daily if we want to keep a healthy body, mind and spirit, especially in our business as it involves a lot of sitting.
How to develop an active lifestyle that will be fun as well? The first step is to select a sport, then set up some goals and always try to become an even better version of yourself. Make it even more fun by joining competitions, triathlons, marathons. It’s worth it!
What do you do when you can’t hit the gym? Go out for a walk, stretch for 5 minutes, do some push ups, yoga (use youtube), run, etc. I try to work out 5 days of 7, but there wasn’t a day in a long time in which I stayed indoors the whole day (I won’t go into details about how important it’s is to get fresh air, nature, vitamin D, etc.).
3. Breathing Exercises & Meditation
Meditation is vital for a happy life, but I won’t go into all the details why you should meditate, the internet is full of information on that subject. What I want to outline is the fact that even though we (Roswitha & I) know how important it is and how it can shape our mind (and eventually our life), there were big periods this year when we just sabotaged ourselves and couldn’t do it.
We started, however, about two weeks ago to introduce meditation into our daily routine and I feel more peaceful, more centered, I can respond with more compassion to most situations. Besides meditation, Roswitha
is studying to become a coach (UPDATE: she graduated and you can follow her teachings on roswithaherman.com) and learned about a breathing exercise that is short, simple and can be easily introduced to your bedtime routine: take a deep breath through your nose (while counting to 4), hold that breath (while counting to 6), exhale through your mouth (while counting to 8). Do this 4 times every night and monitor how you feel. (please do not expect any big changes after doing it twice!)
How we meditate? We do several types of meditation depending on our mood.
We always do this after the breathing exercise, we feel that it’s easier to meditate because the breathing relaxes your body and your mind. We only do it right now for 3-5 minutes and its practically just focusing on your breathing (in and out) while being aware of our thoughts. The trick is to not engage in any thoughts that arise, just acknowledge them and let them go.
Very important: do not get frustrated if you find yourself getting involved in some thoughts! The fact that you realized that you were engaged proves that you are actually mediating!
Even more important: mindfulness is not about clearing your mind of every thought, it’s not about not thinking at all, it’s mostly on focusing on the gap between your thoughts.
The ideal meditation posture is the one below, however, for beginner I’d recommend to make sure you keep your back straight and give yourself a few months, years to master the art.
This kind of meditation is usually longer and you can find meditations for pretty much anything on the internet (youtube is great, but I’d recommend some apps like Omvana or Calm). What is great about them is that you have someone to guide your attention to certain aspects of your life or your body. We usually practice gratitude meditation or the 6 Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani – he guides you through relaxing your body, gratitude, forgiveness, picturing your perfect future, spirituality – all in 30 minutes.
4. Make Space for Gratitude
We used to write down every morning/night 3-5 things we are grateful for and it’s a very powerful exercise that will force your mind to focus on the positive side of your everyday experiences. I say “we used to” because we are not doing this anymore consciously, you get to a certain level when you just feel grateful for every little thing in life and it’s a wonderful place to be.
Some people say “I am not realistic if I focus on the positive, it’s like I don’t acknowledge the negative” and the truth is that you have to look at the negative, be aware of it and immediately choose to find positive things that you can be thankful for. And, you know what the beauty is?! If you consciously choose to look at the bright side, the Universe (God, Buddha, etc. – whatever name you use to describe the almighty force) will give you more things to be grateful for – it’s just how it works. I am pretty sure you can figure it out by yourself what happens if you continue to focus on the negative side.
If you find yourself not being able to find joy in experiences that used to bring you joy, this exercise will help a lot and will bring you back the excitement! A great book to read is “Thanks!” by Robert Emmons.
5. Have Goals. BIG Ones!
Dare to dream, dare to be unrealistic, dare to be different, dare to be weird! What I realized in the past year is that people are afraid to dream about a perfect life, they don’t even allow themselves to think about how it would be or feel and that’s the first and biggest mistake, because “you have to see it before you actually experience it” (Eric Thomas). The Universe really gives you what you ask for, but what happens if you don’t know what you want? Well, in this case, the Universe will give you experiences based on where you put your focus more: if you always complain, it will give you more experience to complain about; if you’re always sad, it will give you more of that.
Earl Nightingale said that “You get what you think about most of the time” and he couldn’t be more right. He wrote an amazing book “The Strangest Secret” and what he discovered was that the first and most important thing that a man can do in order to change his life is to set some goals, to dream. But the “strangest” thing is that people always think that they have to know the “big secret” in order to become successful and happy (that keeps them in the victim state), and even though Earl told them exactly what they have to do in order to get to the next level in life, only about 5% (if I remember that right) did it: write down your goals and make time to think about what you want every single day.
Some of our biggest goals are
- become a successful Coach
- inspire the young generation to follow their dreams
- appear on Ellen Show
- Go to Tony Robbins seminars
- build a house
- run 5K
- speak at TED & other conferences all over the world
- travel the world (each country sounds nice)
- get married and have kids (by 28)
- be a successful blogger with one of the best lifestyle blog (Estilo Tendances) in the world
- lead the change in the world, by making people healthy and happy
- become a life & business coach
- be seen as an expert in business & marketing
- inspire young people to do what they love and follow their dreams
- own a BMW X5
- run a marathon & finish the Iron Man Triathlon
- appear on Ellen Show
- expand my network of people
- speak at TED & other conferences all over the world in order to help people realize their goals
- get the two blogs to 1,000,000 pageviews/month each
- travel on each continent
- own several businesses
6. Rituals Build Your Character
I know that everyone talks about this and most of you are like “okay, got it. Next!”, but it’s very important to implement this into your life, not to just know it theoretically because everyone is talking about it.
It’s hard to change a habit and I don’t recommend doing like I did and try to change more than 1-2 at a time – you will get very frustrated and will stop the process. It is said that it takes 21 days to build a habit and include it into your daily routine, but I encourage you to aim for 30 days.
At the same time, habits/rituals define our life and determine our success level. The small things that we do every single day will eventually decide if we become successful or fail – as hard as it is to accept that! We have so many distractions around us that we tend to do the thing that involves less thinking and that gives us satisfaction right now.
Rituals can be daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal! Another thing to keep in mind is: some days will be busier than others and some days you will just sabotage yourself, that is okay! Be aware that you did not follow through with your objective and try to be a better version of yourself tomorrow. If you feel guilty you are not doing yourself any good!
Our best habits include:
- waking up with the sun
- first thing when we wake up, we drink water (best with lemon)
- exercise daily
- eat healthy, organic food
- go out for a walk every now and then
- breathing exercises
- to do lists & planning the week
- constant reading and self work
- constantly working on our goals
7. Read. Read. Read.
“Readers are Leaders” – no one knows who said this first, but there’s so much truth in this short quote. Make time to read, every single day! It does not matter if it’s a page, a chapter or an entire book, what really matters is that you are putting work in developing yourself, in becoming wiser and understanding yourself better.
And when I say books, I mean self development book, business books, lifestyle books, books that will make you think and rethink your life, beliefs and values. I like to say that fiction books are for when you retire! Of course, you can read one once in a while because it develops your imagination, but don’t read only fiction.
We started this ritual about two years ago and I can say that rarely a day passes by without reading something from a book or listening to an audio book. It builds your mind, your character and it makes you a better human being.
I won’t go into all the books that I love again, you can see the list here (browse to the “Books” section), but I will only recommend 3 amazing books:
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Love by Leo Buscaglia
- The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
Because there’s no better article to show off than an article about us, this is the shooting we did this Christmas. It was all planed in less than 5 days, we had designer clothes, professional makeup & photographer and, of course, an amazing location! To find out more about the shooting and the story behind the scenes, read the article on Estilo Tendances!
This is what we do between work, gym and cooking 🙂