Getting Back To Fundamentals

by Fiona Cosgrove (Author & Business Entrupeneur)

Getting Back To Fundamentals I recently read an article from the US about how people could “ride the wave” of potential financial disaster by returning to the “fundamentals” and concentrating on the really important stuff of life.. That got me thinking about what whether in Australia we should be thinking along the same lines and what those fundamentals might be.

Four come to mind.

1. Relationships

In today’s frantic world we believe we are in touch with everyone on a constant basis. Our electronic devices keep us on line and “connected” with colleagues, family and sometimes friends. But is a short sms the same as a meaningful conversation? And have you ever responded to an email and forgotten what you said, or whether in fact you wrote it? Somehow the illusion of connection to people makes us think we have our relationships intact, yet in fact these are often neglected.

Studies have shown that rich, satisfying relationships are the biggest predictor of happiness over anything else (including wealth and satisfying work). In times of hardship, invest time in the people who you care about.

Attention deficit

When we divide our concentration and deny anyone our full attention, the relationship suffers. When we don’t listen properly or respond and show interest in what is being said, the person we are with feels unheard and unacknowledged. So next time you are talking someone, turn off your phone, your blackberry or computer and give them your full attention. A great tip is to ask a question, then follow it up with a question that arises from their answer. By focusing on other people, we can put aside our worries for the time being and gain the support we need. When we show interest in others, they return that interest in us.

Chose your company

In times of stress it is important to surround ourselves with positive energy. Work out who makes us feel good and whose company we enjoy the most. You will find that often it is the people who listen and show interest in our lives. Give the same back to them. Some people have a way of “being with you” that does not necessitate a lot of conversation. In the same vein avoid the people who drain you.

2. Focus on what makes life good

Don’t be scared of emotion

When we are under stress, we tend to block out our feelings and try and stay calm and cool. But refusing to acknowledge the way we feel can create a new set of problems. Negative emotions (such as fear, anger, resentment and loss) have to be recognized and worked through as they are a signal that something is wrong. Finding the cause of such feelings can give us direction to move either towards or away from a situation or to change it if we can. Positive emotions need to be enjoyed and savoured. Joy, excitement, contentment, and love are really what we ultimately strive for. It has been said that man needs a purpose to give his life meaning but without moments of pleasure along the way it is difficult to stay committed to the journey. Emotions lead to motion which leads to motivation. Emotions are the fuel that drives us. Without feelings, we will not prosper. Think about what is most important – material wealth or emotional prosperity? Avoiding strong emotions is not healthy.

3. What gets you out of bed in the morning

Find your purpose

What do you enjoy doing? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it the thought of making more money or the fear of losing it? I doubt that it’s either. Money can be a by-product of working at something we enjoy. There are times when we have to do things we don’t enjoy and during those times it is essential to find outlets in activities that we gain pleasure and meaning from. There are also times when we have to sacrifice the good things in favour of temporary hardship which will lead to greater reward in the future. We will only do this if we have a purpose to work towards. If we make accumulating wealth our sole purpose in life we will have an empty existence. We need a goal that is meaningful but the process of achieving that goal has to be as important as the outcome. If our goals are too distant, we will lose our will to keep going.

Meaning in each day

We need more than a long term purpose in life, we need a purpose in our lives each day. Work out what activities give you satisfaction, and are in some way connected to your values. Is it spending time with your kids? Walking your dog? Exercising? Doing something good for a neighbour? Gardening, sailing or playing golf? Reading? We all find meaning in different ways. Try and include some activity each day that gives you a sense of fulfillment.

4. Stay in touch with your physical health

Let your body support you

Everything can be going right in our lives but if we don’t heave good health, we will be unable to enjoy each day. In today’s busy world, many people fall prey to letting their physical health deteriorate as they focus on their mental health or achieving their professional goals. What we forget is that exercise, good nutrition, adequate rest, hydration and relaxation are primarily connected to our overall state of wellbeing. Take stock of where your body is at. Are you carrying extra weight? Is your cardiovascular system getting a work out? Are you providing your body with the right fuel and rest? I believe that good physical health is about as fundamental as you can get. Without it, nothing else will be fully achieved. If reading this section makes you feel uncomfortable do yourself a big favour and get a thorough medical check up then take steps to change your lifestyle to give your body the best chance of keeping up with the demands of a complex and sometimes challenging life.

In troubled times, stepping back and reflecting on what is fundamental to our happiness is a worthwhile activity.

Fiona Cosgrove has over 20 years experience in the wellness & fitness industry - owning and managing clubs in Australia and Asia, including No 1 Martin Place, NSW Fitness Centre of the Year, 2006. Fiona is the author of Coach Yourself to Wellness and she regularly runs corporate seminars and workshops in the areas of healthy lifestyle, motivation and wellness.

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