January 23, 2024

ZST4LVG (Zest for Living) DEFINED

Here come bad news talking this and that (Yeah)
Well give me all you got, don’t hold back (Yeah)
Well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine (Yeah)
No offense to you don’t waste your time
Here’s why
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
…Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’.

My definition

To me, Zest for Living (ZST4LVG) means waking up after a sound sleep with energy and hope to face the day and any challenge that it brings. It means living life with intention and purpose. Even if I get up on the ‘wrong side of the bed’, I can chuckle as I stub my toe, reframe obstacles as learning opportunities, pull myself up after a couple minutes of a ‘pity party’. It is joy I feel from continuous learning and growth as an individual; feeling loved, respected, and appreciated by those that matter for who I am – my authentic self. My heart feels full with love and caring for myself and others, with a daily goal to make a positive difference in one person’s life. Pride in what I have accomplished and excited for what is yet to come in my day; feeling prepared with capacity to do more with eyes wide open for the next opportunity should it present itself. To me, it is enjoying each moment as I live it, being aware of my surroundings and … ‘smelling the roses’! I feel fortunate and grateful, humbled by the magnificence of life, happy to be alive! I am who I want to be at this point in time; doing what I am intended to do by a spirit larger than me whom I will call The Universe. Thrilled with my offspring and the impact I have had on others who are and will ideally continue to ‘pay it forward’ by helping others to do the same. Do I feel this way every day and all the time? No. Absolutely NOT! Far from it. However, ZST4LVG is trust in myself to know that whatever negativity I am experiencing will pass; it is the confidence to work through whatever is in my way or get help when I need it; the courage to face my fears as I take risks in experiencing all that I can while learning from my mistakes. How many exclamation points do I have to add to let you know what ‘Zest for Living’ means to me?! Well, I have it on my vanity license plate: ZST4LVG. Whenever I am looking for my car, and the lights go on when I press the key fob, I smile.

It’s Not the Destination, it’s the Journey

Everybody wants to be happy as the song goes. Many people think they will be happy ‘when’…when they can buy a house, win the lottery, get the vice president title. Those are ‘things’ or events that can bring happiness for a period of time or contribute to happiness for awhile. They can also disappear causing anger, stress, and disappointment. It depends on your outlook and mindset. To some, owning a house brings costly maintenance and bigger titles bring more work and expectations. And perhaps you have heard stories about lottery winners who call their luck a curse! To those with a ZST4LVG mindset, those are learning opportunities; new skills, new knowledge, or mistakes not to be repeated. Goals, aspirations, and dreams are important for ZST4LVG because they give you a sense of direction, allowing you to live life with intention, one of the characteristics of ZST4LVG. You will find on this page a downloadable exercise to create a set of intentions. However, that direction, your wants and needs may change as your life progresses. It is your approach to life and the accompanying positive mindset that allows you to feel happy, joy, personal growth and fulfilled. Peace and calm. No one can change that except you. Consider the story of a 7-year old boy in school, whose teacher asks the class to describe what they want to be when they grow up. Most of the children say doctor, teacher, scientist, nurse, etc. But the boy only writes ‘happy’ on his paper. The teacher comes up to him afterward and says ‘I don’t think you understood the assignment’. And the boy said, ‘I don’t think you understand life’. ZST4LVG is an approach to life that begins with a positive mind set. That learning journey prepares you for what comes at you in life so that when the bad stuff happens, you can deal with it, learn from it, maybe laugh at it, continue to live a life of ease and flow, and yes, happiness.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book, ‘The Happiness Project’, answered two questions after much research:

  1. Is it possible to be happier? Yes. 50% of your level of happiness is genetics, 10-20% life circumstances like gender, ethnicity, income, religion, etc. and the remainder is a function of how a person thinks and acts.
  2.  What is happiness? Every person has their own definition…you will know when you feel it. The opposite is unhappiness not depression.

She goes on to say, ‘” Contemporary reasearch shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likeable, more creative more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, citizens. I wanted to be one of those people. …Working on my happiness wouldn’t just make me happier, it would boost the happiness of others around me…And, though I didn’t recognize this immediately, it would help me prepare for that phone call that would come in the dark of night….One of my goals for the happiness project was to prepare for adversity—to develop the self-discipline and habits to deal with a bad thing when it happened..I didnt want to wait for a crisis to remake my life.”

More than an Acronym

Meagan got a call that her husband was in the hospital over 4 hours away. She was told, “the only thing we can proise you is that he won’t die before you get here.” Aaron James was electrocuted while on the job as an electrical lineman. He was in an elevated bucket, helping to transfer wires to a new electrical pole, when he hit his face on a life wire while holding a neutral wire. The shock of more than 7000 volts of electricity blew off his thumb and burned him from the inside out. The trauma burned his gums and destroyed his seft eye, his nose and the lower part of his face. It triggered strokes and kidney failure. Doctors had to amputate his left arm and he had to learn to walk again.

Two years later, James is walking and in good health with a first-of-a-kind face and eye transplant. James admits there were dark days. “I got pretty down – ‘why me?’, but it didn’t last. Everybody around kept me motivated. They didn’t let me dwell on it too long”. At home his family, who set up a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses, leaned on their humor to cope. “Every day we would laugh about something,” said James. One running joke: when doctors had to amputate his left arm, James lost most of an elaborate sleeve tattoo, depicting a suit of armor. “My armor”, he points out dryly, “didn’t work too well.”

When you look up ‘Happiness” on the all-knowing internet (written with tongue in cheek!) Wikipedia says, ‘most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude”. Ancient philosopher, Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life…the whole aim and end of human existence”. Translating these definitions to ZST4LVG-speak, I could say the Pursuit of Happiness then is to increase the number of moments and days that we have it. For example, when a parent entices a baby to smile and laugh, it brings joy to both, over and over again.

People who have a ZST4LVG approach to life are happy more often than not because they practice the following:

  •  Awareness – actively ‘listen’ to themselves and their surroundings; like an ‘out of body’ non-judgmental observer.
  •  Growth mindset – ask questions of themself and others to pursue clarity and continuously learn and define what they really, really want.
  •  Intention – are in self-command of their mind, to explore options and make choices that align with their authentic self.
  •  Care and empathy for themself and others – believe and love themselves which then spills over to others; they know there is always someone less fortunate
  •  Accountability toward self-actualization: recognize when they are ‘off-track’ or out of alignment with what they want for themselves and then consciously ‘bust the barriers’ and ‘course correct’ for continuous learning toward their authentic self and who they truly want to be

There are plenty of books, podcasts, and digital apps to help you practice these traits of a ZST4LVG approach to life. I have a customizable framework to coach yourself that I will publish in a book and in the meantime on my website. I describe all of these traits in more detail with options and exercises to increase the frequency and intensity depending on what works for you. Accountability is where a professional coach can help; and in this Framework that coach is you! Hopefully the framework will acquaint you with the benefits of having a coach until you are able to employ one yourself.

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

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