Read week


Before we move to the third part of A (for Action) I want to dwell a little longer contemplating the idea of Your Best Life and how you might come to settle on that worthy goal.

As I reflect on my life, I recall the influential people in my life as I was growing up, and realise that it was from them that I got my idea of what a “normal life” and “best life” was. 

The most influential people for me were my parents, humble working-class folk who had both come from families where the dad was the breadwinner, and he had worked in the same job for over 30 years, the mum was a stay at home homemaker, with families of 4 or 5 children. My parents followed in their footsteps  – my dad worked in the mines for the greater part of his working life, and mum was always a stay at home mum – except with only two children – my sister and me. Education-wise, neither my grandparents nor parents completed high school. My dad studied for some tickets for work in the mines. 

Normal life for me growing up revolved around family, friends, school, church and a little sport. For 4 weeks each year, my dad made a point of us having a good holiday where we would leave home and either camp, caravan or stay with relatives, mostly in large cities away from our home town. My sense of normal expanded through these holiday periods to include the lives of my aunts, uncles and cousins – as well as church camps and a mine organised camp in the city. I did all of my education – school and university – in my hometown. Life each year was pretty settled but church, education and extended family broadened my horizons a little. 

My wife’s family was very similar to my own, dad working in the same job for most of his life, mum the homemaker – except she was an only child, and because of strong and differing religious beliefs, they were somewhat detached from their extended family.

Since getting married and leaving home, “normal” for me has, unsurprisingly, been to continue living in my hometown, to continue attending the same church, having a caring stay at home wife – who works from home as a singing teacher, and having 3 children. Work-wise I have had extended periods in the same job – 10 years and 18 years being the longest – but due to circumstances mostly beyond my control I have had many different jobs. But life has been pretty much as expected – trending towards the best I witnessed from my childhood experiences.

In contrast, my adult children have all moved away from their hometown – initially for education, for love, for employment, for the experience – two have travelled overseas a number of times. Church continues to be a common theme between us all. 

So how did I, and my children develop our ideas of “best life”? How did you? How can we expand our ideas? Here are some suggestions:

  • Personal experiences
  • Experiences of loved ones
  • Educational experiences
  • Travel experiences
  • Responses to crises in our life
  • Unemployment, Breakdowns
  • Our Imagination / hunches
  • Books –  Self Help, Autobiographies
  • Famous people – Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Euclid, Descartes
  • Modern philosophers – Stephen R Covey, Anthony Robbins
  • Lectures – TED Talks, YouTube
  • “4 Hour Work Week”
  • Our interests and strengths
  • New things we try
  • Our groups/friends

Points to Ponder

How have you/will you develop unlimited, expansive ideas from which to choose as you contemplate Your Best Life?

Copyright © 2021 John Harris