We are all too busy. Whether it is running around doing housework, shopping, picking the kids up or working in an office 45 hours a week; launching a new business or trying to compete within a large playing field, our precious time gets more and more limited. We end up having no time to think and are never in the present. Always worrying about what was, or fussing over what will be, never taking a moment to just pause and take everything in.
Since the very early 2000s, I have found myself working harder and harder, trying to achieve more and more, attaining many goals and ticking many boxes along the way. You know what? I barely noticed those achievements and never took the time to bask in them. The second something had been accomplished, I was on to the next project.
2016 was a pivotal year for me. My mental capacity to cope dwindled to a new low and, toward the end of the year, this exhaustion lead to months of suicidal thoughts. Something had to change as I wouldn’t be achieving very much from a coffin.
So after an amazing Christmas with my family, just relaxing, I was determined to make changes for a healthier, happier 2017 and beyond. I was already broken and it was time to rebuild myself into Zion 2.0. A SuperZion, if you will. Wrote large on my whiteboard are the following commitments to myself:
- Rebuild and reassemble
- Look for peace and acceptance
- Don’t overwork
- Do more fun
- Go plant-based
- Take time to relax and read/research
- Practice mindfulness
The first thing I did was turn off my mobile phone and vow to use it less. Now, some days, it never gets turned on, which is fine by me. I also turned my computer off by 8pm. Anything that wasn’t done would have to wait until the next day. Doing this forced me not to work harder, but to work smarter. Instead of wasting time in front of the computer, every second counted so I had to make the most of it. Come 8pm or thereabouts, Vikki and I would watch either a documentary or a movie. What most people do on a regular basis was a once-a-week treat up until this moment!
We both like to learn, so documentaries were the main source of viewing. As I was keen to change my diet (I had been vegequarian for a year at this point) we watched several documentaries about the health benefits of an entirely plant-based diet. It was after one of these that I donated the last of my whey protein-based food to a friend to go 100% plant based.
As I have progressed through life, I’ve felt more and more like there was a dimension to life I was missing out on; did not get. Some get it through religion, others through spirituality. I do not subscribe to any religion and spirituality conjurs up too many images of ladies with flowers in their hair, swirling their dresses as they dance bare foot in the moss, so I think I will leave that for now. But I was looking for something. The only faith that I do have any time for is Buddhism; not the reincarnation aspect as that seems a bit too far fetched, but the meditative, Zen facet. The stillness, strength of mind, strength of character, kindness and thoughtfulness all appeal to me and, over the years, I have aimed my personality toward those traits by coincidence.
Exploring this further, I discovered Mindfulness. Intrigued, I sought to learn more. The most basic of teachings is that you stop life to really take in your surroundings. I mean REALLY take them in. The pleasure we might think we will get through acquiring the latest piece of technology is always short-lived, so we look toward the next consumer purchase. But how many times in your life has your breath been taken away by an incredible sunset? How often have you relaxed by the sea just listening to the lapping waves? The sights, sounds, smells and textures of this world are extraordinary, provided you don’t walk right by them.
The past is gone, so forget it. The future doesn’t exist. All we have is the moment. Take it in. Notice anything and everything that surrounds you. Empty your brain, notice the fresh sting of the air as it fills your lungs. What smells are present? What sounds? What can you see. Wherever we are on this planet, there is always going to be something incredible to witness.
It sounds hooey, but it does make a difference. I’d already come to the conclusion that buying stuff didn’t fill the holes in life. I drive an old car, could buy a new one but why? I don’t need a different one, I like the one I have and, yes, it would be exciting for a couple of days but then what? We don’t derive as much pleasure from things as we do from experiences. Our ancients didn’t have iPods and I bet they lived way more fulfilling lives than most of us. Albeit much shorter ones filled with pestilence.
In April, I released my book. As it was the only project I was committed to, I actually got to enjoy the process. I cannot tell you how stressful I have found past CD releases. And, apart from this website (which is from now on-going), all I am doing is dedicating myself to seeking happiness, some kind of enlightenment, peace and contentment. I have committed to a second book release by the end of the year, but I’m not going to stress about it, I’m going to enjoy it.