What is an extraordinary life?
A couple of months ago, we launched a giveaway to win a trip to Bali. We put together a video and asked a question to our Facebook tribe: If you could live an extraordinary life, what would it look like? And how different would it be from the life you are living now? Our inspiring Social Media Intern, Ara, had to go through all the comments and answers, in order to pick the winner. What at first seemed to be a stressful and repetitive process, became a journey of questioning and marvelous revelation. Thank you Ara, for sharing your story with us.
All people had to do to enter this giveaway was to answer a question in the comment section of the video. As the Social Media Intern at Hubud, I oversaw the whole process.
And, oh boy, it’s been a process.
I read every single comment that was posted under that video, and I replied to all of them not because I had to – but because I wanted to. I smiled, laughed, and teared up going through the comments in those 2 weeks. My friends and colleagues at Hubud know just how many hours I spent in front of my laptop screen, wondering how I was going to shortlist the entries and choose a winner. Because not only were there so many, they were also so different from one another.
We received over 600 entries, and each of them floored us. The number of people who poured their hearts and souls out there was unbelievable. I expected that I’d be reading some good stories, but I never expected to be so touched by them. Needless to say: the responses were simply magical. They went beyond cliches and common conceptions of what is extraordinary. Words inspired by dreams, guided by freedom… and a pinch of craziness. Because that’s just it –
it’s the quirky and the unconventional, yet the most simple details, that makes us out of the ordinary and our life unique.
Like what Sam Forsyth wrote:
“The only life I would deem extraordinary is that of simplicity. For instance, a mango tree. It will not move anywhere, it will not see the entirety of the world. But it will feel its weather, grow with its seasons. Then with the blossoms of its many flowers, the fruit will provide a gift of taste, texture, and nutrition to whoever decides to take its offering. Over time it will decay, die but only to feed a new life. It doesn’t hate, envy or lust. Just living to give. That I believe is an extraordinary life.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I never thought to compare my life with a mango tree. But after reading this comment, it somehow made sense to me.
Then I read Peggy Lipton’s view on this topic:
“…My idea of an extraordinary life is reaching a state of mind so that you don’t want an extraordinary life, but you are comfortable with the life that happened to you…This does not mean you will stop dreaming or following your dreams, but it rather means you will be mastering and cultivating the art of Acceptance. In my idea of a “non-extraordinary” life, I wake up every morning and I am grateful for what I have, I cherish and value my achievements and I am not worried about the future or scared by the possibility I will never have what I most deeply desire.
My motto? “Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary….Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s!” (cit.)…
…My extraordinary life lies in the power of my ordinary life today. It is not an extraordinary life I aim for, but rather an extra-ordinary life.”
Personally, this one really made me think. When I think of an extraordinary life, I think big. I’m talking way out of the box; traveling, magic powers, unlimited resources, explosions – okay, maybe not explosions. But what I mean is, I think of things that can only happen in fiction books and movies. I’ve never once thought that an ordinary life could be extraordinary.
Funnily enough, this comment by Mikhael So completely summarizes my personal take on the question:
“I honestly don’t know where to begin. I never saw myself as living an extraordinary life. Maybe it is because I set the bar for ‘extraordinary’ too high for myself. To the point where it is impossible to obtain. I’m talking about superpowers. Good ol’ fashioned flying around in spandex with a dark brooding past, shooting lasers out of my eyes superpowers. Becoming the kind of hero this world needs – no, wait! The kind of hero this world deserves.
But jokes aside I could be doing anything I want in my life and as long as I do it to the best of my abilities, I will be happy wherever I am. But if I could spend a month in Bali and meet some awesome people, well that would be extraordinary.”
Among the many wishes for a life filled with traveling and self-fulfillment, there were visions of a life devoted to others. Like this one by Alejandro Leon:
“An extraordinary life can only be achieved through helping others, connecting with people, touching people (you know what I mean don’t get weird). My extraordinary life would be fulfilled by being rich, but let’s define richness first: Money doesn’t make you rich, possessions don’t make you rich, LIFE does and I feel alive the most when I share my life with others.
The only way of getting to know the world is through its people. Let’s get off our asses and go out there! Fearless, driven and ready to live our lives for real. In my life, I have had the chance to connect and learn from hundreds of people.
…My extraordinary life would give me the chance to reach more people and to keep learning and keep sharing everything I learn.”
This was just one of many comments written by people whose dreams are to help others. Needless to say, it gave me hope and inspired me greatly. More often than not, we reflect on our lives and point out only what is missing, so all we want is to fill those gaps and ask for more.
But if we truly look into ourselves and what we already have, we rarely ever need more.
I am guilty of doing that myself; sometimes all I can see is what I don’t have in my life. But when I stop thinking about myself for one second and remember that there are literally millions of people on this planet who don’t even have the luxury of owning a bed, I realize that my life could be considered as extraordinary to others. So why don’t I see that myself?
Alexandra Maria convinced me of this thought within one paragraph:
“If I could have an extraordinary life, it would look like exactly the way it is now… and living happens right NOW! For what I know, however, you choose to live your life is what makes it extraordinary. We are all out of the ordinary people, we all look for magic in everything and everyone, almost without realizing that the place where we should start is inside us. So my life wouldn’t have to be any different than the way it is now. I am grateful for everything and especially for the fact that I am alive. The extraordinary lies beneath our very eyes, in every single moment of our lives.”
So, what can we take from this?
To me, it means that the word “extraordinary” in combination with the word “life” has endless different definitions. And it is entirely up to you what those definitions are. You could associate it with a life where you can teleport anywhere at any time, or a life where you are simply surrounded by the people you love until the end of your days. It is your life, so live it however you please.
After this whole experience, my outlook on life is refreshed but remains the same. It would be extraordinary to be able to travel the world and live a life where I can dream of something to do tomorrow and make it come true with the snap of my fingers. But with that being said, my life right now is also quite extraordinary. To live on the beautiful island of Bali, be surrounded by people who constantly uplift me, and do work that I love – I’m living the dream.