‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

Less Effort, More Ease

Sitting soaking in the bath I watched a short video by Alan Watts about not forcing anything. It made me reflect on the question: How can I live with more ease and less striving and forcing? 

As I reflect, I wonder about how you and I are a product of our current culture of quicker, faster, now! In comparison, I marvel at the effortlessness of nature. Lao Tzu, the late Chinese philosopher said “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” I wonder how I can live more in harmony with this natural flow, with the rhythm of nature. And ultimately, how I can live with more ease, more flow and alignment?

Does effort equate to success? 

In today’s world, success is often equated with effort. The harder you work, the more you achieve, right? ‘No pain, no gain’. I wonder do we have this wrong? I have been as susceptible to this as anyone. As an identical twin, I certainly embodied this effort equates to success idea. When Steve and I were younger and more competitive we were always striving to outdo one another, and as a result were often ‘busy fools’, busy striving for unimportant things!I wonder if the key to achieving more is actually to do less and use the extra time to ensure that what you are doing aligns with what is truly important to you? Your actions will likely be better directed, helping you to avoid the pitfall of tirelessly chasing unworthy goals.

I reflect on some key moments in my life, some of the most pivotal life events just seemed to have happened without any striving or struggle, they simply unfolded with ease. 

For example, my wife Sabrina and I were lucky enough to buy our current home in 2021, while we weren’t even looking for a house, a friend sent me a message with a link to it and before I knew it, we were going to see it. In fact, it was the first house we ever went to see. There was of course some back and forth with mortgages etc. but it all unfolded with an ease to it that felt a little like there might have been an invisible hand helping to guide the process. I don’t know if it was meant to be or that the timing was just right, either way it just unfolded seamlessly. 

My Little Guru

My third daughter, Fia, is now 9 months old and started trying to walk. Watching her take her first steps with the help of her walker is truly amazing. She isn’t in any rush or hurry; she’s not striving to walk or even particularly concerned about it. I don’t even know if she is conscious that she is trying to walk. It just seems to be happening naturally, in its own rhythm, and in its own time, very much like nature just exists and trees just grow. 

It was the same easy natural unfolding as we watched her learn to roll over and then crawl. Observing Fia reminds me that when we are aligned and present with what is unfolding, circumstances tend to flow and unfold in a more effortless manner. In my perspective, babies are the purest form of human with little to no conditioning, they are closest to the source, this is my I look to baby Fia as my guru!

Is the journey the destination?

Early last year, I noticed a persistent low-level anxiety following me around, especially regarding work. We weren’t hitting our targets, and it felt overwhelming. To overcome this, I decided to let go of focusing on goals and outcomes and instead chose to concentrate on the journey, the process and the things I can control. I remember at the time we had lots of goals on digital course sales and membership sign ups which we weren’t hitting. I instead focused on my process of sharing really good content that might inspire people to sign up rather than stressing over what I couldn’t control. This simple shift helped me manage stress and anxiety much more effectively.

Acceptance vs resistance. 

I’ve noticed that struggle, striving, and hustling often come from resisting reality—trying to force things to go the way we want. Acceptance, on the other hand, isn’t about giving up or letting life bowl us over. It’s about recognising and aligning with what’s actually happening. 

When I accept things as they are, I feel more in harmony with life. For example, yesterday I was frustrated that my 13-year-old daughter Elsie was taking so long to get ready in the morning. We had planned to go to a cafe, and she took more than 20 minutes to get dressed, so my impatience was growing. Realising my frustration wasn’t helping either of us feel better, I told her I’d walk ahead and meet her there. 

This small shift made such a big difference. Instead of stewing in annoyance, I enjoyed a leisurely walk and was in a much better mood when she arrived. I wrote about acceptance in terms of having enough in a previous Happier column titled: ‘Feeling enough’. 

Acceptance embodies the principle that, in this present moment, your most basic needs are likely met. Needs and wants are quite different. A key to experiencing less effort and more ease is to be happy with what you have by accepting your current situation.

Aligning with Nature’s pace

I ran along the cliffs this morning as the sun was rising and I marvelled at how nature unfolds with ease and balance. Just as seasons change smoothly and rivers flow naturally, nature shows us a harmonious way of living. Trees grow and shed leaves effortlessly, animals follow natural rhythms, and ecosystems thrive through connections.

An essential aspect of this harmony is recognizing that humans are not separate from nature but an integral part of it. As Alan Watts beautifully put it, “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” By understanding and embracing this interconnectedness, we can live more harmoniously and simply.

Nature has seasons, there is winter and summer, night and day. Yet modern human culture tends to be ‘always on’, usually striving forward on a mission to accomplish something. Instead, if we can mimic some of these natural processes, such as rest and growth we can bring more harmony into our lives.

Where we live in Greystones, we do our best to foster and nurture a strong sense of community just like the roots of a tree interconnecting with the mycelium and roots of the forest to support and nourish together. Nature’s wisdom shows us that aligning with it can lead to greater ease and harmony in our daily existence.

Simplifying Your Life: Knowing When Enough is Enough

Simplifying your life is about recognizing when enough is truly enough. In a world where the goalposts are constantly shifting and material pursuits never seem to end, I find it crucial to pause and reflect on what truly matters. By focusing on essentials and letting go of unnecessary clutter—both physically and mentally—we can find greater peace and contentment. 

Coming back to the example of housing, we moved from a normal sized family home to a small town house 5 years ago before buying our home a year after that. It had 2 small bedrooms and no storage space. As we moved, we were forced to let go of everything that wasn’t essential to fit it all into those 2 bedrooms. I remember that it was tough at the time, yet somehow liberating to let go and to gift some of the things we thought were important to friends and the community. 

To me, simplifying means valuing experiences over possessions, nurturing relationships over accumulating more stuff, and finding joy in simple, everyday moments like I wrote about in a previous Happier Column on taking a daily 1 hour holiday. Learning to live a simpler life can help us to stop chasing after endless goals, and instead appreciate the abundance that is already present in our lives. 

To be really honest, I don’t have all the answers about living a more effortless life. I am on the same journey as you are. And I wish you more ease, more flow and alignment moving forward. I hope that struggle is a less common guest at your table and when you must carry a burden, I hope you can embrace a little more acceptance. Life is so rich and the more ease and presence we can cultivate, the more joy we are likely to experience. 

Thank you for reading my writings, I get so much joy from it and I really hope they help you in some way. If you have anything to share on this topic please leave a comment below. 

Thanks a mill. 

All the best

Dave x

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