What is it we all want in life? I’ll give you a hint: it’s really simple, and it’s the same for each of us. It’s just to be happy. That’s really all there is to it. That’s all there is to life. And yet… each of us is different, unique in our own way. What makes me happy may not necessarily make you happy. We each have to understand what our happiness means. What life, what ideal life, would make us happy? Before we can have that life, we must understand what such a life would look like. In fact, that’s the first step to make your life better – to understand exactly what you want your life to be.

I first undertook this task several years ago. I failed miserably. It seems I really didn’t know what I wanted. I thought I did. Everything I considered was colored and tainted by my current situation and place in my life. Things clouded my vision; my age, my home, my career, my health, my kids, my spouse, my parents, my culture, and my financial situation all influenced what I thought my ideal life should be.

So, as I undertook this exercise, nothing I visualized ever resonated as true. Sure, my vision of an ideal life was nice – I’d like to have it, but it never really felt like me. Something was missing. I suspect this is true of all of us. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, I discovered two techniques, or tricks, if you will, that allow us to see through our ‘clouds’ and clearly see what our heart really desires.

The first technique is a trick of the mind. It probably is more relevant to the westernized world that elsewhere, but you live in an industrialized, capitalistic, materialistic world that most of us do, this will help. To start, simply sit back, relax, take a few minutes to calm your mind, and then start to imagine what your ideal life would be. Imagine where you would live, what your day would be like, what you would do for a living, and anything else that seems relevant to you. Your ideal life is uniquely yours, so do not worry if you leave something out that someone else might feel is important. What is important is only what you think. Now here’s the first trick – imagine that money does not exist. For this exercise, money is not important. Divorce it from your mind.

Did that change your image? Did that affect where you live, what you drive, where you work, what you do for a living? Does it affect what you eat? How often you exercise? What classes you take? You are completely free to live life as you choose, with no monetary restrictions. Imagine that. How would you live it?

When monetary concerns are removed from the equation, it becomes easier to see if money is influencing our decisions. This exercise had a profound influence on my understanding of what I wanted out of life. It also made me realize how much money influenced what I thought I wanted.

For you, however, money may not be the ‘clouding’ issue. It may be parents, or children, or education, or a particular job or boss. Regardless of what obsession in your life might be clouding your vision, remove it, and imagine a life without it. And THAT will be your ideal life.

There is another trick I have found that works. Have you ever done something that energized you? Have you ever talked about something that got you excited? For many of us, we can literally feel the excitement rising in the pit of our stomach. Some things will fuel that positive energy, while other things elicit fear in exactly the same area of our bodies. If you are wondering what path may be right for you, just take a moment to ‘feel.’ Are you energized thinking about it? Or are you scared or anxious? Can you not wait to get started? Do you pop out of bed ready to face the day? This energizing feeling is a key. It is a sign that you are on the right path.

When you visualize your ideal life, observe your reactions and feelings. Are you excited? Do you feel that rising energy in the pit of your stomach? Or do you have no real reaction, or worse, are you scared? The energy you feel is a clear sign if you are on the right path or not. Become aware of it, and let it be your guide.

If you remove money, or whatever obsession clouds your vision, and if you pay close attention to how different thoughts and visions affect your emotions and energy, you will be able to clearly understand what you ideal life should look like.

And once you’ve identified that, it’s just a simple matter of making it happen. But more about that later!

Copyright 2010, Scott Bradshaw

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