By Milda Urban, Summersalt Yoga founder
Have you ever heard about the concept or theory of Atomic Living? Neither did I until a couple of months ago when I listened to a podcast with the guest Kiran Ghandi. Hearing this amazing feminist talk (google her) I felt as if my chakras have opened and the whole world of opportunity and minimized anxiety was in the center of it.
I will not re-type what Ms. Ghandi was talking on that podcast or her TedX talk, because you can go ahead and listen to yourself. In this post I just want to share my interpretation of the theory – there’s a chance it’s not totally the same as Ms. Ghandi initially has described it, but in my opinion, the theories become practice more often if we make them our own
I am in the very early stages of implementing Atomic Living into my life and am still figuring some kinks out, but I already feel like it’s working. Every time I stress about this or that I just remind myself of “atomic living” and the anxiety eases down, even if just a little.
To shortly describe the actual Atomic Living theory it goes something like this: when you are faced with a choice of doing something serendipitous and doing something quotidian, you must always choose the former, assuming it feels right to do so. This means that if you suddenly have the chance to go to an awesome play through your initial plan was to stay in and watch Netflix you should go to the play in spite of the fact that you may have been looking forward to the binge-watching of OITNB. Why? Because the play has so much more potential to create incredible experiences or even opportunities than a night on the couch.
To me, this is so true and so right, it makes the most sense and I have expanded on it a little, taking a little wider look and focusing on long-term goals or more precisely the need to focus on them less.
Losing long-term goals
In life most of us, especially those living in the Western part of the world, but so much of time, energy, and effort into what’s coming next. What’s “waiting” for us in the future and what is our vision of where in that future we want to land. 5-year plan. 10-year plan. 20-year plan. Goals line up one after another with often very specific steps and actions of achieving them. The same goals in time often end up feeling very anticlimactic, because the GOAL set so long has become just a sentence in the notebook, just something we followed almost blindly without taking note of changing surroundings, circumstances, times, feeling, and ourselves. We end up feeling that the energy, the hard efforts to achieve those goals were not worth the end result. Because everything has changed.
Here comes the idea of Atomic Living. If we were more aware, open, and mindful of what was going on around us and with us, if we had followed our gut feeling and what felt right “right here, right now” instead of blindly following about the “5-year plan” we would have opened ourselves the whole new world of opportunity and positive experiences. The same goes for worrying “what will happen in those few years” – something we have very little or mostly no control over.
These positive experiences and opportunities form our daily lives, create motivation and inspiration (and simultaneously – success or achievement, if that’s important to you), but most importantly – make up our life the way we want to live it now. The life that feels good and right. Now. Not in 10 years. Not in 15.
Do what feels good now
The most simplistic example could be a guy who focuses so much on hitting his goal to be a partner in the firm in 5 years that he misses everything else life has to offer. From great relationships, great days, trips, to other personal and professional fulfillment opportunities. His life consists of being buried in work, worrying about competition, and sleeping over the weekends to regain the spent energy. He doesn’t re-evaluate his goal or stops to reflect. However, when he arrives at the milestone of becoming a partner he just doesn’t feel content with it, because during these years he ended up resenting the work, the office, and the reason he got to this line of work in the first place. Or not even that. Maybe he just realized he didn’t notice how his interests shifted and he doesn’t want to be the lawyer, banker, or sales manager anymore.
Probably his work did make him happy initially, at that point in his life, which is great. But his focus on where he SHOULD be in NEXT 5 years got him constricted. If he was also was open to the world around him, he would’ve met up with friends more (and this way met his life partner, got new ideas for opening business OR just had an amazing time and less stress), he wouldn’t have lost touch with his college band and still jammed in the local pubs (and because of that got invited to play in the amateur band festival which would lead to new connections, new friendships and in the end trip around the world). Or maybe not. It’s not the point. The point is if he would have chosen to live the way it felt good and right that moment if he didn’t deny himself those chances, because of something in the future, which may or may not arrive, he would have stayed open for incredible things, experiences and opportunities. This way he wouldn’t have let something that’s not even real (so, the future) hold him back from things he wanted to do in the present.
And that’s what Atomic Living means to me. Living in the moment, doing what makes me happy, and gives me fulfillment now, because only this way I am taking in all things awesome that the present throws at me and losing what disturbs me the most – anxiety over something that’s neither certain nor clear. Do you want to try?