How Do We Want to Live?
How do you want to live? I‘ve often pondered this question. As a fan of lifestyle design, I spend a lot of time planning for my future goals. There are even many blogs which also consider the topic, and offer many plans to reach your bucket list goals. Do you want to buy a private island? Then save about $10,000, find nine other friends, and together you can all own your own island paradise in Canada. Do you want to constantly travel? That‘s easy; there‘s even an entire book from blogger Tynan explaining how to become a digital nomad.
Those are all great things, and in this world we have an increasing number of opportunities to individually arrange our lives. But there is more than one‘s own private life, and perhaps we could all invest a bit more time to consider that. Instead of asking "how do I want to live," we should ask: "how do we want to live?" Especially in a time like this where it seems as if the divides in our world are only growing, it could be valuable to spend time imagining our shared global future. But are these divides actually growing? Or are they only more noticeable? In any case, it is important to intentionally plan and work towards a better future together.
For example, do we want to live under populistic, extreme-right political figures? Do we want to live in a world with the European Union or do we want completely divided countries? I think that we too often grow up with the understanding of the world from our ancestors and societies instead of to look at the world and interpret it ourselves. Do you feel more like a citizen of your country or a citizen of the world? The USA has certainly given me a lot, but I still don‘t feel as if I owe the state something. Even for Germany, which is in many ways my favorite country, I don‘t feel indebted to the nation.
Don‘t misunderstand me, I have the desire to work for a better world, and give back to the people and organizations that have helped me along my path, but as I see it one can do that independent from a single country. Of course, it is easier to reach these goals in a democratic country, and in my opinion, it is extremely important that there are many democratic countries in the world, but at the end of the day it is more important to do something good for other people rather than in which country's name one does it.
In this sense, I feel more like a global citizen than a citizen of any one country, and that I should do something good for the world even if not fueled by nationalistic feelings. I don‘t know how you want to live, but I think more zones like the European Union would be pretty cool. And as far as a passport is concerned, having "Global Citizen" on it would be pretty cool.
However, our lives are made of more than politics, and our social interactions are equally if not more important. For this reason, considering our dream social life is also a useful exercise. Although this is a very personal topic, there are some themes which seem to be generally applicable.
Specifically, while you may think you can choose your friends, ultimately it is a two-sided decision. Nonetheless, there are some important points to keep in mind when working to thoughtfully create your social life. For starters, you should recognize that the people you spend most of your time with have a huge impact on how you ultimately live your life. Since you can't change your family, finding friends which support your aspirations is crucial. If you want to run a marathon, only having friends who binge watch Netflix is probably not going to help you reach that goal.
Furthermore, once you already have established friends, you need to continually care for those relationships. As we progress through life, it becomes harder and harder to stay in touch with old friends, especially as physical boundaries and adult responsibilities come into play. Thankfully, there is a way to cram a significant amount of care into a short period of time, through shared experiences.
The term "shared experiences" is very broad, but it basically means sharing an immersive and perspective broadening event with friends or family. For instance, you could go to the same school as someone for years and not make much progress on your friendship, but if you suddenly went skydiving or took a road trip together, you would grow closer much more rapidly as compared with living your normal life.
Another great example is vacation. Recently, some longtime friends of mine were going to Iceland and invited me to come along. At first, I wasn't sure whether to go or not, since Iceland is extremely expensive when compared with mainland Europe. However, I knew that now that we are all in college, our time at home together is limited, and that traveling through a foreign country together, even if only for five days, would have more of a positive impact on our friendship than countless brunch reunions over short semester breaks. As such, I went with them, had a great time, and we formed stronger connections with each other.
By creating and taking part in unique experiences like these with your friends and family, you can refresh old relationships in a short period of time, and have loads of fun doing it. Although you might not see many old friends as much as you would like, shared experiences like these are something you can carry with you for a lifetime, even if you haven't seen each other in years. Perhaps you are someone who doesn't travel much, but I expect that in this increasingly globalized world, the old-fashioned tradition of living in the same town you grew up in is becoming increasingly scarce. Using shared experiences, you can continue to have close relationships across vast physical boundaries.
Ultimately, it is most important for you to think about this question and figure out what you value most in life. Although these strategies work great for me, there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution to life. I hope that these notions were able to at least inspire you to think differently about your life and consider intentionally planning some aspects of it, whether politically, socially, or beyond.
Photo is of the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland. My friends and I got to visit there on our recent trip to Iceland. Some other highlights included hiking up a glacier, climbing into Paradise Cave and bathing in the Blue Lagoon. What have you been up to recently? Feel free to let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email using the email icon in the menu.