Nagging questions such as ‘what should I be doing with my life? and ‘am I on the right path?’ are familiar to us all. Yet they disrupt our inner balance, peace of mind and well-being. They ultimately steal our present moment. Moments are precious jewels radiating round the neck of beingness –many shiny jewels are better than one heavy dull stone. A Seeker’s Guide to a Life Worth Living by Jili Hamilton aims to polish your moments into jewels. Opening you to the possibility of inhabiting your life differently. By posing the question ‘What is a life worth living?’ Jili transforms the seeker into finder.
I caught up with Jili for tips on where to begin.
Me: What are the traits of people who live well?
Jili: We’re all so diverse, but to put it in a nutshell, people who ‘live well’ tend to be optimistic. We may go through tough (really tough) times, but that’s part of life; you can’t appreciate the sunshine without the grey days; what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger to face the next challenge.
It’s important to be grateful, because although we may think someone else is doing better than us, if we look around for even the tiny blessings in our lives, we can find loads of reasons to express gratitude. Appreciating what we have brings us more of the same.
A sense of humour is very helpful and, although sometimes we don’t find life funny at all, it is important to be able to bounce back. One chapter in my book is entitled This Too Will Pass and that’s what life’s about. Nothing lasts for ever so it’s vital to seize the moment and live the good times fully, knowing that the difficult ones, like a thunderstorm that turns day into night, will pass too.
Jili: Our life purpose could be so many things—perhaps even something that sounds simple, such as learning patience. By musing on what really make our hearts soar, however off the wall it may seem. We can always find a person, a book, a course out there to help. Even if we have only a few hours to spend doing it, just see where it takes us. It might not be THE thing but it could open other doors, give us other ideas. Send us off in a totally new direction.
For example, I read ages ago the story of a lady who persuaded her reluctant granddaughter, at that time out of work, to accompany her to a class in re-caning old chairs. The granddaughter became so fascinated and so skilled that she eventually started her own business … re-caning old chairs.
As to choosing the wrong path, there isn’t a wrong path. Edison was quoted as saying he knew 1000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb, but, my goodness, think of all the other things he learnt along the way. I once worked in a café for several months, preparing salads, serving customers, clearing tables and washing up, because I had a dream of running an organic restaurant. I started by working weekends as I had a ‘real’ job which disappeared a few months later, leaving me free to work full time. Things didn’t work out at all and I left. However, who knows if that experience will come in handy at a later date and even if it doesn’t, it gave me an insight into something completely different.
So be curious, relax—if you want to spend an afternoon watching butterflies and bees flitting around the flowers in the park, do it. It’s often when we are day-dreaming that our best ideas pop up. A well-known TV actor wrote in his autobiography that it’s a fallacy to say as we make our bed so we lie on it. He saw nothing wrong in getting up and making it again if we feel like it, so flexibility is also a major factor.
Me: How can we cultivate a practice of living well?
Jili: It’s probably different for all of us and my very first steps were through taking a course in improving my life and meeting people with the same idea, some of whom became my friends. Louise Hay and her You Can Heal your Life was a major find and, after 30 years, it’s still really pertinent. That got me interested in other authors writing on positive topics; Shakti Gawain, who’s Creative Visualisation, the very first book of that type I bought, was a major inspiration. There are also loads of videos, DVDs, talking books, etc. put out by the top names in the self-help domain.
Jili: There is often a period when things don’t seem to be working out, when money is tight, when work isn’t flowing through the pipeline but I know by experience that putting my mind on what I DO want and not on what I DON’T is by far the best option. Friends, even if they’re not on the same path, not even interested, can help put things into perspective. Just having a drink, a meal, a chat, maybe even a laugh about something, anything, can send my spirits up again and I know that the tough bit is temporary. In a story (not in the book) I liken it to the moment when we take off in a plane and have to go through the rain clouds, being bounced around like peas boiling in a pot on the stove. We KNOW clear skies are not far away and when we get through the bumps it will be plain sailing, but, gosh, is it terrifying while it lasts.
Me: Are these experiences what inspired you to write ‘A life worth living’?
Jili: I’d already written a book and many articles on the therapy I practise (ear and body candling) and offered one of the latter to a small online magazine in 2011. I don’t know whether they liked my style or whether they had a slot to fill but they asked me to provide a monthly article (now fortnightly). As their focus is positivity, spirituality, etc. I wrote one based on an experience several years earlier and found the words and ideas flowed easily. One thing led to another; my life experiences started to turn into articles which could perhaps help and uplift other people. They mounted up and the idea of a book, which had been floated by someone else, took form.
Jili is definitely a wise owl. Based on her advice I’m signing off to put her words into action. Firstly…
Gratitude – Yes, good old gratitude. Today I’ll appreciate the fact I have these hyper-active fingers to type these lovely words. That the sun moved gently from the moons embrace to bring light to my ever grateful eyes. After all, it’s helpful to see what I’m actually typing.
Optimism – I have a half full cup of tea by my side. And a kettle brimming with endless possibilities.
Sense of humour – Today, I’ll continue writing my comedy series. Yes it’s seen as shameful to laugh at your own jokes. But then again, I have no shame.
Follow your bliss – That’ll be towards the kettle for more tea, and back to my desk for more writing. (Wow this is pretty easy)
Be open to experiences – Maybe I will finally take that horse riding lesson…maybe. (Horses scare me a little. Okay a lot. But not as much as cows.)
Be curious – Well…I’m curious to know what it feels like to be on a horse.
Focus on the wanted – I’d definitely want to stay on top of the horse…. ‘I will stay on top, I will stay on top, I will I will I will…’
And Relax – This one’s definitely needed now. Deep breath…. Release. Horses are my friends. No horses will get you here in your protective bubble of bliss…you are free of all horse related suffering…ahhhh.
If you want to cultivate your own practice of living well, Jili’s book is available by clicking here. Good luck, and let me know how you get on!