The 6 Pillars of a Happy Life – How to Create a Life Vision
Do you have a vision of life? We often have a general idea of what we want to do with our life. Being happy, helping people, earning money or changing the world. But a life vision is much more than than. It is a more clear idea of what your life will look like in the long term, according to your own values and goals. Think 10 years ahead from now – if you are 20 now, what do you want your life to look like when you are 30? If you are 50 now, what do you want your life to be like when you are 60? This is a long-term vision that helps you to take steps from where you are right now towards this life you want to live.
So how exactly do you create a vision of life?
The 6 Ingredients of Your Life Vision
According to my teacher’s teachings and my own experience in life, a vision of life should consist of 6 pillars: health, career, relationships, leisure, lifestyle and spirituality. These are the ingredients of a vision of life, that you should work out in detail. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
- Health – What is the kind of health condition you want in 10 years? What goals do you want to set for yourself? This may include how much you weigh, what exercise would you like to do, how much do you want to work out? What food do you want to eat? The central question is: what do you want your health to be like, if you had the complete freedom to choose?
- Career – How do you want to pay your bills, develop your skills and at the same time contribute to society? People often think of their job as something they have to do. However, it is completely your choice in what way you will earn your money, and even how much money you want to earn. Think in a way that is consistent with your own values and set goals accordingly. This will affect the steps you take towards these goals – a yoga teacher who wants to have a studio with 50 students will act and behave differently than a teacher who would like to have a studio with 500 students.
- Relationships – What kind of relationships do you want to have? Are you happy with your relationships as they are now, or would you like to change something? How would you like your relationships to be in 10 years? With you parents, siblings, children, neighbors, friends? Or to put it differently: what kind of friend or family member would you like to be?
- Leisure – What else do you want to do in your life to enjoy your time in this world? What fun activities would you like to do, what hobbies do you want to explore? How much and where would you like to travel? You can make a list of all the ideas you have.
- Spirituality – which is about finding yourself, connecting to yourself, finding an answer to the question ‘Who am I?’. What does spirituality mean to you, and how would you like to practice spirituality? For some, this might be going to church every day, for others, doing meditation twice a day, for others again, joining a group. What is going to be your way of practicing spirituality?
- Lifestyle – What kind of lifestyle do you want to have? This includes every aspect of the way you live. You can ask yourself the questions: where will you live, how will you live, what will you have, what will you wear, how will you get up, where will you sleep? You can picture the ideal day you would like to have in your life. What does such an ideal day in you life look like?
Common Challenges in Creating Your Vision of Life
Take some time to think about these questions, and clearly visualize your life in 10 years. It is not easy to make a clear vision – you might have so many things in mind, that it becomes scattered. With all the options we have nowadays, we often want too much. This might leave us not feeling happy, not feeling satisfied.
Understanding what is important for you
One way to create more clarity is the following: To find out if you are happy with the life you are living, imagine you are dying. Looking back, are you happy with the life you had so far? Is there anything you would like to change? Or are you ready to go? This exercise makes you understand what is important for you, and helps you to change in a direction that suits you. We have the capability to change – so if you find out you want to change, use a vision of life to think of steps you can make towards positive change.
Matching your lifestyle
Something else that many people do is focusing too much on one of the ingredients of a happy life – leaving them unhappy because they do not have enough attention for the others. They become too much centered on health, for example: I will not do this because it is not healthy, I will only eat this, I will only work out. Or too much centered on career: I only want to earn money, more money, more money, more money… And in the end they discover: I have not been living a happy life. The point is: if you have a clear vision of life, all the pillars have to match each other, complement each other. It should be balanced.
Basically, all points have to match the lifestyle that you would like to live. Lifestyle is the most important, the rest has to fit in and to support it. Your health, your career, your leisure, your relationships, your practice of spirituality – all have to match your lifestyle, as this will create balance. A common mistake is that people think: let me work for 5 years and then I will travel (spend time on leisure). Or: let me work for 3 years and then I will spend more time on my relationships. But the question is: will you be happy in these years?
The key to happiness is to practice every day, to pay attention to all six pillars of a happy life every day. Practicing every day helps you to take small steps, working towards a content and balanced life gradually. By our small actions, everyday, we change our life for the better. This is how change happens!
Writing Down Your Vision of Life
You should write down your vision of life. This will help you to stay focused. It takes time to develop your vision of life. If you write it down now, look at it again next week. You may remove something, change something, add something. It can take you about two months to develop your vision of life. Once you feel that it is ready and covers everything, you can make this exercise much more powerful by making your life vision visual: Find appropriate pictures and create a collage of all the main points of your life vision. Hang the collage where you can see it every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to sleep.
Your vision of life may change over time. In fact, it can change anytime. But this doesn’t make the vision invalid or less powerful! Because by thinking and visualizing about what you want in life and what a happy life looks like for you, you will be much more likely to get there. You can not hit a target that you can’t see!
At the same times, your life vision tells you when it is enough and prevents you from becoming too much fixed on only one of the aspects. Like working too much and not having the time for your partner or family anymore. Looking at your vision of life regularly is a very good way to keep your life balanced for the long term.
When we are young, we do not realize that time is flying by very fast. When you ask old people what their most important lesson from life has been, most of them say: ‘Do not waste your time.’ Time cannot be turned back – and we do not want to regret not having lived our life in a fulfilling way. Thinking about your life vision helps you to take responsibility of your own life, to make decisions, focus, and to start working towards the life of your dreams.
It is hard work, as change is not easy. However, it is worth is. Practice every day, believe you can grow and change, and start living the life you want.
Watch Ram Jain’s Lecture on Creating Your Life Vision
About the Author
Ram is Founding Director of the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams India and The Netherlands. Within the last 10 years, the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams have become renowned internationally for their professional yoga teacher training courses, and have up to present trained over 4000 yoga teachers from all over the world.
Born in New Delhi, India, in a traditional and spiritual family, his yoga and Vedic philosophy education started at the age of eight years as a part of his primary school education. Presently, he is the lead teacher for various teacher training programs. He teaches for several months a year in India and the rest of the year in the Netherlands, where he also lives with his wife and two children.