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By Chanel Aries

Look around you, at your friends, family, co-workers, or significant others. Many people share a common value, life inside the box. One of the most fundamental human needs is acceptance. It’s as biological as it is emotional: animals need to know they are one of the pack, or the tribe – this is how we ensure safety.

And this is why we value the the security of the checklist and the reassurance that there is a purpose for their lives, even if they don’t realize that purpose has been defined by someone else. These people put all their time and effort into the checklist that has been created for them, by someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. For a long time I lived by this checklist. Falling into the idea that I would not amount to anything if I didn’t get that great paying job, husband, house and high career profile. I caved into the pressure that many of us do, the idea that being different is bad and often will lead to our unhappiness.

Since discovering life outside the box I can’t help but look at people differently who are still stuck in the box. The people who will probably never realize how little their box really is.

For example, we graduate university, find a soulmate, get the great career, buy the house, get the ring, have children… you get the idea. This is the checklist, and it has no appeal to me anymore. When did life become all about pursuing things?

For me, I know happiness is in every relationship I cultivate. Not the things I buy, not my job, not the designer shoes I’m wearing (mostly because I don’t own any). I have found life outside the box is difficult, but it has led me to a life of great meaning.

Life inside the Box begins at a young age with the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor, lawyer, Astronaut…

We spend a large chunk of our early years of life devoting hours to school to become something we are told will make us valuable. What I wish I would have realized a long time ago is that I don’t need these checklist items in my life to be truly happy.

If you think I’m crazy and you’re happy living a life with a checklist who am I to tell you anything different.

So many people are searching for meaning these days, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t at one point or another.

What I have come to realize is that happiness is a state of mind. Things will not give us happiness, waiting for someone to complete us, will not give us happiness. We must cultivate happiness and realize every day that we are good enough. And that these things we were told at a young age define our happiness – really don’t.

Your job does not define you, your house does not define you, you define you.

There is no room for people in your life that define you based on your ‘things’. Let them define you by your sense of character, kindness, and ability to give without receiving anything in return. Be different and let people exist your life, you’re only creating more room for people who share your value for a life of great meaning. Cultivate your happiness and be brave enough to throw your checklist out the window – pursue a life outside of the box.

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