“Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly, “one must also have freedom, sunshine, and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Anderson
I’m sure not what exactly Mr Anderson meant by this, but it got me thinking about the way we live our lives. Sometimes all we do is ‘just live’. And that, according to the butterfly, my friends, is just not good enough.
Why Just Living Isn’t Enough?
There are two key are areas in our lives where we may be happy to ‘just live’, but it would be sad if we did only that.
# 1 Work
It is a sad reality that due to their circumstances, many people have no choice but to work for a living. They have to work to provide the basics for themselves and their families. For example, right now, a little distance from our home, there are people working on repairing a road. They are poor, daily workers who have no choice but to work in these hard and dirty conditions. They’re working for a living.
But what of us who do have choices? Are we really enjoying the work we do or are we too just working for a living?
Recently, I met a young woman who is working in a job she doesn’t like, for employers she has no respect for and who treat her with little respect too! She’s afraid to move out of this job because she’s feels that she won’t get another opening at the same position and remuneration. She’s a smart young woman who is selling herself short. She’s just living – doesn’t really enjoy freedom, sunshine and certainly has no little flower!
Are you too just living when it comes to your choice of work? Do you bring passion to your work? Or does it make you feel unhappy and dissatisfied.
Nick Williams, the author of one of my favourite books, Unconditional Success: Loving the Work We Were Born to Do, says:
The work you were born to do will have joy in it; you’ll experience inspiration and it will flow from you. You’ll find it intrinsically fulfilling and nourishing. So in the traditional sense, it won’t always feel like work because you enjoy it so much!
If our work is not more than our job, then we really are in big trouble!
One question I often heard when I was single was, ‘When are you planning to settle down?’. Being the smart-mouth I am, I would answer either with : ‘Why? Do I look unsettled?” or “I’m settled already – I don’t need marriage to do that.” It’s rather sad that the phrase ‘settle down’ has been associated with marriage.
Here’s what the dictionary says about the phrase :to adopt an orderly and routine way of life, take up a permanent post, etc., especially after marriage.
Perhaps some of us take the ‘settling down’ business a bit too seriously, especially in the context of our primary relationships – with our spouse, children, family. We don’t believe that we need to work on making our marriage or relationships meaningful. We tell our partners: ‘Since I’ve committed to live with you, I’ll do that – just live!’ Too often, I see couples who have forgotten the most basic reason why they’re together – love and growth.
We spend too much time nagging at and grumbling about our partners and children. Instead of encouraging them to be the best they can be, we’re constantly finding fault and poking holes in their dreams. ‘You can’t clean up your room, and you want to be an event manager!’ ‘You’re so fat, and you want to become a model?” Whatever happened to – ‘You can achieve anything you dream of’ or ” You can count on me” or “I’ll be there, if you need me’ or “Go for it’ ?
So don’t ‘settle’ in your relationship with your spouse, children and family. Work on bringing freedom and sunshine in to your ‘little flowers’. It’s the little gestures like a cup of tea when you need one, or an unexpected break from taking care of the kids, that make a big difference. It’s the ‘Perhaps you’re right’, the ‘I messed up – forgive me’, the ‘I understand the way you feel’ and the “I miss you’ and the all-important but so infrequently stated ‘I love you’ that make our lives together so much more than ‘just living.’
We really need to let Mr Anderson’s butterfly spur us on to live lives charged with passion and meaning.