The Secret to Living a Life You Love

My job is to help people live lives that they love. Lives that take care of them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Lives that, when they’re on their deathbed, they can say with a peaceful smile, “That was awesome.”

Well, I have a secret. It’s the secret to living a life you love. And it’s not about what your career is, what your calling is, what you accomplish, what you have or who you know.

Here it is: Living a life you love is not about WHAT you do. It’s about HOW you do it.

In fact, your what is meaningless if your how sucks.

That’s why you’re thinking about leaving your job at that non-profit that has a REALLY great mission but internally is a microcosm of every inequality you thought you were getting paid to work against.

And why you’re thinking about leaving your relationship after a decade of dating despite the merging of your finances, friends, and identities because you can’t seem to see -- I mean really see -- each other anymore.

It’s why you’re still not fulfilled even though you’ve checked off all the boxes and have all the things.

Your life is not what. Your life is how.

If your how is alive, authentic, purposeful, creative, loving, confident, sincere, calm, playful, honest, courageous, dynamic, awake, etc, your life will be that, too.

If your what is basic but your how is extraordinary, you will have an extraordinary life.

Because how is everything. What is just the stuff inside.

Make sense?

So what does this mean? Should you stop pursuing your goals and instead make your life happy just by putting on your happy hat? That would be a fun experiment to try, and you would probably feel a bit happier in the short term, but no.

Sorry, you still have to get off your butt.

What this means is: Let your how shape your what. Not the other way around.

See, most of us make the mistake of letting our what shape our how. We strive for stuff “out there” that we think will give us the fulfillment we want. So we put our heads down and work our asses off. We eat like shit, sit too much, sleep too little. We ignore our friends and family and put off dating. We’re BUSY, just so damn busy. And kinda lonely and anxious all the time. But we think, “I’ll make up for it later. AFTER I get to my destination.”

Except that shitty life is, well, your life.

And when you get to your destination, it’s like arriving at a surprise party without any guests: just an empty, dark room. With cake.

Instead, let your how shape your what.

Does living passionately, creatively, adventurously or perhaps steadily, calmly, tenderly (or anything in between) bring forth your full, magnificent self? Does that put you in touch with a higher purpose? Supercharge your energy and focus? Inspire you to give more generously to those you love? Allow you to embrace and accept yourself completely?

And does living that way make you love being alive despite all the uncertainties and limitations every life form is subjected to?

Then figure out ways to shape your environment, career, schedule, relationships, habits, diet, etc, to support you being that way more often. Find out what blocks you from being that, and make choices that move you away from those things.

Oh, and expect to become successful at whatever you end up choosing. Because when you’re living your best how, you tend to do your best whats, too. It’s a beautiful, self-perpetuating cycle.

Choose what helps you be how you love to be, and then just be, fully. That’s how to live a life you love.

And pay attention, because you’re not going to want to miss a moment of it.


Eddie Shieh, PCC, MFA