Chapter 1: Introduction
I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want the environment to be a product of me.
— Jack Nicholson, The Departed
This book is about one way to look at life. Will it help you live the life you want? We hope so. That’s the entire purpose of it— a way for you to create the experiences you want in your life.
If your life is exactly what you want it to be, read no further and continue to live it. If you think there is room for improvement or are curious what else is out there, you might ﬁnd something useful here. It’s not a miracle recipe for happiness. What this book oﬀers is a way to look at your life to become a more active maker of your experiences.
We, Thijs en Joost, are longtime friends and happier and more fulﬁlled than we used to be. How did we do that? We expanded our awareness, and that made us more active creators of the life we desire. That is our experience. Have we arrived at the ultimate end station? Our view is that no such station exists, and we will discuss that more later. We walk the talk. We follow everything written in this book in our own lives and constantly test if it actually works. It’s a work in progress— for us too. In fact, we often have to read our own book to remind us of how it can be done. That’s part of the fun of what we are suggesting in this book: you can immediately test what works for you, and we leave ample room for your own interpretation. See it as inspiration to go explore and ﬁnd your own way.
We will explore the following questions:
What do you want to experience in your life?
How do you make those experiences happen?
In a very down-to-earth way, how do you create what you want in life—love, happiness, joy, success, prosperity, growth, health, purpose, intimacy, all experiences you may want— which ones do you want, and how do you create them? Life seems to be all about that: we want a certain experience, and we’re busy creating it— whatever it may be for you. It isn’t always easy to know what you really want or how to create it—or how to change what you don’t want. If that’s something you are curious about, perhaps the suggestions made in this book will inspire you to look further.
There seems to be a paradox when it comes to how to create the life you want. On the one hand, creating the life you want seems entirely in your control and can be accomplished at lightning speed. On the other hand, change can be diﬃcult and very hard work—with strong forces pulling you back or keeping you in place—like gravity.
For some aspects in your life it may be easy to make changes; for others it may be harder. We hope this book will encourage you to believe that, whether it is easy or hard, you can do it.
Believing in your ability to create the life you want can also at times feel as if it’s all nonsense. We can relate to that. Bookshelves are full of books about it—while often life can feel like you have no control at all on what is happening. We understand it’s not black or white—we’re all trying to ﬁgure this out as we go. And that’s kind of the insight we’ve gained in our own life—that it’s exactly about that: you and each of us ﬁguring it out how to live our lives, our way.
Are you entirely responsible for your own experiences, your success or your failure? To what degree is it you versus your environment? That, too, is for you to ﬁnd out—and we are suggesting that by becoming more aware of yourself, your environment and your experiences, you can play a more active part in shaping your life. How far you can take that is for you to experiment with.
Everything written in this book comes from personal experience. If we have not personally experienced something we write about, we’ll let you know that it is an assumption. We believe we cannot know something to be true unless we have experienced it. How else would you know it to be true? We therefore encourage you to consider everything in this book that does not correspond with your own experience and accept it as a possibility—and go ahead with creating your own experiences. Our experiences and perceptions are based on our own experiences. Nothing written in this book is a citation of something written somewhere else, but we did read books, we did listen to others, and those views may have inﬂuenced our perspectives. For us, what someone shares about his or her experiences and views is simply another possibility to go experience for ourselves. We believe in your ability to ﬁnd truth through your experiences. Go try stuﬀ and ﬁnd things out for yourself.
One assumption we suggest is that there are inﬁnite possibilities, that the types of experiences you can have and how you choose to live are limitless. Do we know this to be true? We’ve had experiences that felt like limitlessness. It’s a possibility. That there are a lot of possibilities is something you can probably relate to from your own experiences. There always seem to be new ways, new perspectives, new inventions, new species, and new galaxies. So if you don’t know from your own experience whether possibilities are inﬁnite or just many, perhaps allow yourself to make this one leap of faith or just settle for knowing that there are a lot of possibilities.
Either approach will work for the purpose of this book.