In classical mythology, nectar is the divine food of the Gods, an ambrosia conferring immortality on anyone lucky enough to happen upon it. Living "in the nectar" is a metaphor for existing in that sublime state where you feel most joyous and alive. With all the stressors of the modern world, creating your personal nectar recipe requires more than just good fortune.
A chance encounter with the self-proclaimed Happiest Guy in the World a few years back sent me on a quest to figure out just what makes ridiculously happy people tick. Countless hours of observation and contemplation have led me to one all-encompassing truth: Essentially, locating that sweet spot involves identifying and maintaining that ultimate balance where you are at your best and thriving. Concocting your formula is just a matter of figuring out how to spend your time in a way that is most rewarding.
Living in the nectar of life can be achieved by devoting a little introspection and strategy towards these four aims:
1) Take Good Care of Yourself
A healthy body is akin to a well-oiled machine; it simply runs better with clean fuel and regular use. Forget diet extremes -- deprivation only taxes the body -- and if you're going to train hard in "beast mode," just make sure you allow yourself ample recovery time. If you're confused about the foods and fitness activities you need for optimal performance, talk to a nutritionist or a personal coach. Use trial and error to find your health sweet spot and listen to your body. Take notice of how you feel after trying certain things and avoid those that cramp your style. If you decide that a solid 8.5 hours of sleep a night, Sunday surf sessions, papaya-ginger smoothies, and morning affirmations make your days run more smoothly, view these elements as needs, not wants, and set aside enough time.
2) Make Your Passions a Priority
Have you ever noticed that regretful look in a friend's eyes when they talk about something they used to be good at, but just didn't have the time to continue? Whether it's learning a new language, taking cooking classes to perfect your skills in the kitchen, feeding your wanderlust with a new travel destination, or getting around to fixing your mountain bike, time dedicated to the activities you enjoy most will reinvigorate your zest for life and make the not-so-fun tasks of your day seem more manageable. If you're ambitious and determined enough, look for a creative way to turn your passion into an income-generating endeavor, so you never have to compromise.
3) Seize Opportunities to Connect With Others
When you reach a certain stage in life, you may have the tendency to stick to a finite social circle comprised of family members, colleagues, and those few die-hard friends from college or childhood. Experts agree that positive interactions with others -- both those already in our life as well as new friends -- can make us feel less isolated, more confident, and generally more content. Reaping the positive benefits of human connection might be as simple as Skyping with your sister, striking up an elevator conversation with a stranger, or extending a lunch invitation to a co-worker. Remember, too, that following through on your passions can be a great way to meet and connect with like-minded people.
4) Define Your Vision and Make it Happen
You're probably familiar with the principal of manifesting your goals by first envisioning them in your mind's eye. While this is certainly an important factor in getting where you want to go, a lot of people get stuck on the first step -- figuring out what their dreams actually are. By working on defining your vision for your not-too-distant future, you lay the groundwork for positive change. By making moves in the direction of that vision, even the smallest of steps can give you a sense of accomplishment and fuel your motivation. For example, one of my lifelong dreams has been to sing in a reggae band. While achieving this particular goal seems like a long shot, I've started taking singing lessons twice a month, which gives me a fulfilling sense of pride. Baby Steps.
Author Daniel Coyle defines the sweet spot as "that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp." As you integrate these four principles into your life, remember that staying in the nectar involves constantly challenging yourself -- breaking beyond your boundaries by taking your health to the next level, creating more time for old and new passions, cultivating new and stronger relationships, and constantly tweaking your goals to keep them just out of reach.
As for the Happiest Guy in the World, he now lives on a tiny island off the coast of Brazil, grows his own food, and spends his days surfing, raising a son with his beautiful Brazilian wife, and working towards opening his own Jiu-Jitsu academy. Mr. Happy taught me that when you stay true to passions, follow your dreams, and nourish your body and mind, not only do you become a more cheerful and pleasant soul, but you also continue to inspire others around you simply by being the best version of yourself.