If you could choose to shift your perception in order for your life to feel a little more wonderful, would you do it?
Sometimes we’re so bogged down by the challenges we face and the harsh realities of life, we don’t allow ourselves to believe that life can be fun, joyful and sweet.
We see those things as passing moments here and there rather than something that can become our everyday life.
As much as it might seem frustrating a large part of your experience comes from what you choose to focus on. If you’re only focused on the harsh and challenging aspects of life then you’ll end up thinking that there isn’t much else out there. However, we can all choose to see things differently.
It’s not about ignoring the challenges and difficulties but instead remembering that there is so much more to life.
The idea of saying yes to what you want is pretty simple yet somehow we often end up doing the opposite.
We end up saying yes to things that we don’t want.
We have this idea in our mind of what we want, what we’ll say yes to and what we’re willing to accept. Then, when the moment arises where we have the opportunity to show up truthfully, we crumble.
We say yes instead of no and we make allowances or excuses for other people. It’s like we intentionally draw the short straw. It could be about people pleasing, a fear of hurting other peoples feelings or maybe you’re just scared to say no.
What ever the reason, you’re the one that then ends up committing to something that doesn’t even align with what you really want.
And when this happens, it shows. You give less effort, show less enthusiasm and even if you don’t say it, you end up giving off a sort of ‘I don’t want to do this vibe’.
Essentially you just make things harder for yourself and you end up less happy than you could have been.
So often, we get deeply and strongly attached. We hope that things will remain as they are.
We fear that change might bring in what we don’t want and clear out what we do want.
But, I like to believe that as wonderful and perfect as things might be right now, everything could be different and still be wonderful and perfect.
That serves as a reminder that it’s okay for things to change.
There is no need to hold great attachment to the way things are, in doing so we don’t allow space for the new.
New might not be ‘better’ but it will be different. It’s the opportunity to experience something you’ve never experienced, it’s a chance to learn and grow.
Sometimes in life you can be so set on knowing yourself and figuring out who you are that you don’t leave room for flexibility.
I think it’s important to find the balance between knowing yourself, whilst still remaining open to new things.
You don’t want to end up being rigid.
However, the reason we close ourselves off to new things is because it can take a lot of effort to change.
Your thoughts, opinions, beliefs and world view took a long time to develop and become what they are today. Being open to new information that could change any of that can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. Or maybe it feels like a threat to your sense of self.
Suddenly, the things you aspired to, cared about and believed in are different. It’s almost like you’ve become someone new, which is not a bad thing. However, the hard part can come from showing up as a changed person and letting go of your old self.
People that have have a habit of taking on more than they can manage rarely make the effort to try and ease their load. Instead they accept the period of stress as though there is no other choice. In fact they’ve come to rely on the stress and looming deadlines to spur them on and get things done.
However, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the stress just leaves you stressed.
That’s not what you want when you’re under the impression that you can use stress to your advantage.
Sometimes stress leaves you overwhelmed and unable to focus like normal to the point where you’d rather quit than carry on. It’s not healthy to put yourself under unnecessary pressure, especially when you have the option to make things easier for yourself.
And so start paying attention to yourself. How much can you take on before you start to feel overwhelmed? Learn to start saying no before you reach your limit and end up feeling overloaded.
When your life gets overwhelming and everything feels like too much, you might need to strip things back for a little while.
When you remove things from your life it makes you realise whether you really want or even need them.
You could log out of your social media accounts (or at least mute everyone you follow) and then see how much you miss it. It’s not about quitting altogether but more that perhaps you’ll miss catching up on tidbits of your long distance friends lives but are no longer interested in following your favourite clothing brands. You might also find that you’re not so fussed to go back to following a bunch of strangers who rarely go a day without telling you to buy something.
You could create a capsule wardrobe and see how it feels to get ready with less choice. You might find that you miss having the variety of items and the fun of choosing what to wear. But on the flipside you might become aware of how much time you used to waste finding the right outfit because your closet was full of clothes you didn’t really like.
Lastly, you could strip back your social life. Instead of catching up over dinner and drinks or going dancing, go for lunch alone, get a juice alone and focus on spending time with yourself.
Doing this reminds you of the people you enjoy spending time with the most but also reminds you what you enjoy spending your time doing. You might realise you don’t normally make enough time to do things alone or that you prefer your own company to the company of certain people you’ve gotten into the habit of spending time with.
When you think of a fresh start, what comes to mind?
A new city, a new stage in education, a new country, a new relationship, a new job, a promotion or a new home.
As much as those things are the beginning of new chapters in our lives, they don’t necessarily mark a fresh start. I think what matters so much more is the mindset. Sometimes people find that they move to a new city and get a new job but everything they wanted to escape from stays with them. They find themselves in a new city with the same old problems.
It’s possible to change your mindset, stay in the exact same place and still get the effects of a fresh start. Things like moving to a new city, changing your hair or getting a new job all serves as visual signifiers for ourselves and also to the outside world that something has changed.
It could be difficult, challenging and uncomfortable. But it also serves as an opportunity to learn and grow, if you’re willing to be open.
If you’re a regular reader then growth points is a term you’ll have seen me use every now and then in posts such as Bravery and uncontrollable outcomes, Day 183, It’s okay to be you and Unexpected and interesting.
However, I recently realised that I’ve never really explained the term or idea in great detail. I made the term up for myself and to be honest it’s just an alternative to the word challenge. However, the focus is on growth and overcoming rather than the difficulty of the situation.
When you face a situation that perhaps in the moment you wish wasn’t happening, it’s easy to just think that ‘it’s the most terrible thing in the world’. You then might find yourself getting caught in a downward spiral of unhelpful thoughts that leave you feeling stuck.
That mindset or perspective that you find yourself in never leads to growth. You have to find a way to get through it and see things differently.
I think the getting through it part is most challenging because it can be easy to stay stuck. A moment of sadness can turn into hours or days of wallowing.
One thing that helps is to be very conscious in how you think about the situations that come up in your life instead if just getting caught up. Acknowledge it as a challenging situation rather than blowing it out of proportion and allowing one situation to become your entire life.
And from that perspective you can begin to think about how you can grow from it. The great thing is that once you grow from it, you can now take that lesson forward with you for as long as it serves you well. Then next time something happens you can fall back that all that you’ve previously experienced, learnt and grown from.
When it’s just you yourself and you, how do you live?
How do you spend your time? And the times when you feel most like yourself, what are you doing?
For me it’s journaling, walking in green spaces, listening to my favourite music (The jezabels, Funkadelic/Parliament and The Stone Roses), creating with my hands, getting lost in a good book, writing blog posts and just writing in general.
In the midst of life, these things can be easy to forget and sometimes we go so far as to even forget ourselves. Then we end up feeling lost and unsure of what to do next.
We often feel most like ourselves when we return to childhood things. Things we did when we were young without a care in the world. You weren’t focused on competing or what other people would think, you were simply just being you.
When it comes to making decisions you might find yourself paralysed, stagnant and making no progress in life because you’re scared of making the wrong choice.
Weeks, months or even years can go by and when you look back on your life you’ll find that very little has changed. It could be about work, friends, family, romantic relationships, your home, how you spend your time, that thing you didn’t start or your appearance.
Perhaps you’re worried that leaving a job and trying something new will be something you’ll regret and so you stay in your current job even though you’re unhappy. You’re worried that leaving might be the wrong choice.
Maybe what you do next won’t work out so you’ll have to go back to a similar role that you used to work in, maybe your new career path pays less or maybe something else unideal will happen.
However, I think that if you yearn for change then maybe making the ‘wrong choice’ is the best choice. Mistakes and failures are opportunities for learning and growth. But taking the chance to try something new may also lead to greater happiness and fulfillment which I think is enough to make the risk worth while.