In the history of humankind, there has never been a time of more abundance, says bestselling author Neil Pasricha, yet far too many people throughout the world are hopelessly struggling to find happiness in their lives.
“We have everything we’ve ever wanted and we’re struggling with how to enjoy it and how to live” he says in a quiet conversation after finishing his closing keynote address at Walk With Me 2018, the only conference of its kind focused on changing the culture of aging in Canada.
Neil grew to international fame after he began writing a simple blog called 1,000 Awesome Things as a means of challenging the sadness he felt while facing some of life’s greatest heartbreaks. He was soon known as a happiness expert during a time when he was still terribly sad, but as he began researching what it means to be truly happy, he discovered a path towards contentment that he shared with more than 300 conference attendees on March 6.
“For me it comes back to ‘Ikigai’, Neil says, referring to a Japanese word that conveys purpose in every day life. “Do you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning? Do you have the social connection of a group of people? Do you have the stimulation of learning new things and do you have the story of being part of something bigger than yourself?”
That sense of daily purpose can be a driving force in the happiness equation, Neil says, and as he surveyed the conference room he saw people soaking in that sense of purpose to improve the lives of others.
“To me, no one plays a role in this more than the people at this conference because they are imbuing and connecting the elders of our society together,” Neil says. “If we can have a conversation about what the best way to live the end of your life is, then we’ll be healthier for it.”
Paul Brown, Chief Operating Officer at Schlegel Villages, was proud that his organization was the conference’s platinum sponsor, making it possible for Neil to share his message with attendees.
“We are in more control of our own happiness than we think we are,” Paul says, considering the essence of Neil’s message. “If we use just one of the tools he gave us, we will arrive at a place where we can experience greater levels of well being.”
The quest to change the culture of aging and restore the elders of our communities to a place of reverence follows the same path to well being, Paul adds.
“Culture change is about moving to a world where we, the provider of services, focus less on directing the care of others and move to a place where we become enablers in facilitating residents to direct their own care and quality of life,” he says. “By doing so, not only will residents have a greater sense of well being, but those who are providing the services will as well.
“Culture change, at times, requires personal transformation, and Neil helps us to see that taking action is the first step.”