"Life is not just the passing of time. Life is the collection of experiences and their intensity."
- Jim Rohn
Hello and welcome to This Year’s Word Podcast, I’m your host, Courtney Symes. I’m an author, entrepreneur, mum, and wife. In this podcast series, I will share my Word of the Year experience as I explore the meaning of the word “Love” and how you can use this word to change your life, one day at a time.
This is our fourth and final episode focusing on the Art of Self-Love, and I’ve loved sharing my thoughts and experiences on finding flow, goal setting and recognising when to quit in the last few episodes. Do yourself a favour and have a listen to these episodes when you’ve finished this one, if you haven’t already.
In this episode, I will be talking about the joy of filling your life with experiences, not things, and how experiences can enrich your life.
Even though I had the theme and content of this episode planned in advance, I received what I believe is confirmation from the Universe that I was on the right track, when an email from the Jim Rohn (R-own) organisation titled “What does a good life contain” dropped in to my inbox. Naturally I was intrigued, and clicked the link to learn that “A good life contains these 6 essentials”. This list consists of the six things Jim Rohn believed would constitute a good life, which included:
Where there’s productivity, there’s growth and learning. Whilst it is important to rest, rest should be seen as an opportunity to gather strength before moving onto our next project or goal.
2. Good friends
There’s nothing like genuine friendship, but it’s ok if friendship occurs on different levels. For example, there are the friends you’ve had since childhood or share a soul-connection with. These guys know your deepest secrets, how you tick, as well as your vulnerabilities and flaws…and they still choose to hang around. Then there are the casual friends who you may have met through work or other people. Whilst you might not share a deep connection with casual friends, they still play an important role, and who knows – could become close friends over time.
3. Your culture
Your culture encompasses where you and your family are from, as well as the elements that define your culture, such as language, music, dress and traditions. The nuances of your culture are what makes you unique as an individual – they are the essence of your soul.
Spirituality is our connection to source, and each other. At the heart of our spirituality lies our core beliefs and values. Spirituality can be a dedicated religious practice, or simply the deeper knowing that we are all collectively connected to something greater than ourselves.
5. Don’t miss anything
This is my favourite of the six essentials to a good life. Jim recalls that his parents encouraged him to never miss anything – “not the game, the performance, the movie, the dance”. Jim’s father was living proof of this, when at age 93 (just before he died) Jim says, “if you were to call him at 10:30 or 11 at night, he wouldn’t be home. He was at the rodeo, he was watching the kids play softball, he was listening to the concert, he was at church—he was somewhere every night.” Jim encourages everyone to “Go to everything you possibly can. Buy a ticket to everything you possibly can. Go see everything and experience all you possibly can.” Participating in life is the best way to learn and experience as much as you can – from other people, as well as the activity itself.
6. Your family and inner circle
They say you can’t choose your family, but I believe on a deeper, spiritual level we do choose our family. Family can support us through rough times, or help us learn important life lessons by the way they treat us, and the way we treat them. Just because you’re related by genetics or marriage, doesn’t mean you’re always going to get along. Relationships with family members can be some of the most frustrating, as well as the most rewarding. Jim says, “ If a father walks out of the house and he can still feel his daughter’s kiss on his face all day, he’s a powerful man. If a husband walks out of the house and he can still feel the imprint of his wife’s arms around his body, he’s invincible all day. It’s the special stuff with your inner circle that makes you strong and powerful and influential. So don’t miss that opportunity.”
Do these six essentials on Jim’s list resonate for you? It’s interesting to notice what isn’t on this list – the nice house, luxury car, a stylish wardrobe, or rare art collection. Whilst having enough money to avoid financial strain makes life easier, and living in a nice house can increase your quality of life, relying on material possessions becomes a slippery slope to happiness. When is enough really enough?
A classic example of this is when I watch my kids yearn for a new toy. When they finally save up enough money to get it, or receive it for their birthday or Christmas, the happiness is fleeting. I don’t deny that possessions and material things can bring us joy and happiness by making life easier, but in comparison to the things on Jim Rohn’s list, the feeling of “happiness” is fleeting. Like an addiction, if we rely on “stuff” to fulfil us, we will always require more to fill our tank.
The key, I believe, is to trust our senses, that is our sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, in order to help us live a full life. These five senses are a gift to help us experience life on a deeper level. However, there might be one sense in particular that you really connect with, or that helps you recall memories. For me, that is my sense of smell. I have profound memory recall when I smell something specific, such as a particular perfume.
One of the most significant life experiences I have had with scent was meeting my husband, who, for no reason I could explain, just smelt right.
I’m not alone when it comes to feeling attracted to someone because of their ‘scent’, one that isn’t created by an overpowering aftershave, that is. In The Scent of Desire, author Rachel Herz writes of Estelle Campenni, a psychology professor from Marywood University who recalls, "I knew I was going to marry my husband the minute I first smelled him." There are numerous studies supporting the impact our pheromones (compounds secreted by animals, including humans) have on our behaviour and physiology. Herz explains,
"Your MHC genes determine your unique immune system and also your unique odorprint, and your odorprint is as unique as your fingerprint”.
Therefore, it is understandable that certain people would be attracted to other people with a specific scent.
Perhaps because of my strong connect to scent, I love perfume and trying different scents. I love spending time in the perfume section at airports or in department stores where I can wander and discover new scents. I also reacquaint myself with old favourites, which evoke fond memories of the time when I wore that particular perfume.
This happened recently when I was hanging out at a chemist waiting for a script and perused their perfume section, smelling a variety of different perfumes. I came across one that looked vaguely familiar – Charlie White.
From the first “sniff” I was transported back to summer 2000, my first summer in England. Smelling this scent was like opening a treasure chest of memories. I evocatively remembered many of the places I went and even the outfits I wore. Precious memories I hadn’t recalled for years were suddenly unlocked. While I enjoyed smelling the perfume again, I didn’t want to wear it again for fear of losing the precious memories associated with it – rediscovering it had been such a joyous experience.
Activities that engage more than one of our senses provide us with rich, memorable experiences. Some examples of multisensory experiences could include: having an aromatherapy massage or bath where you can smell the essential oils and feel the massage or warm water around you at the same time, or going for a hike in a picturesque location and feeling the path under your feet, whilst hearing birdsong and smelling the natural world around you.
Reflect on experiences you’ve enjoyed in the past and identify the senses they have engaged. You might find there are certain experiences and senses you engage with more frequently than others, such as going to a musical or performance, or enjoying a nice meal and a glass of wine with friends. Of the experiences you recognise you enjoy, consider how you can add more of these into your life. The next time someone asks for gift ideas for your birthday or Christmas, you could suggest vouchers for experiences, such as a massage, facial, or a course or class on something you’d like to learn more about. Better still, ask them to join you in doing something you love, such as a hike with a picnic lunch.
Make a list of the non-material things that are important to you in your life and consider how you can engage with these people or activities more often. Life is about growing and learning through trying new activities and meeting new people. So take a leaf from Jim’s father’s book and get out there and enjoy it!
There are more tips on how to fill your life with experiences in my forthcoming book, A Year of Love: Finding peace a day at a time, and the links for the other references I have mentioned in this podcast can be found in the show notes.
I’ll leave you with today’s mantra:
I prioritise experiences and people over material possessions and strive to live a rich and full life.
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