When you start a new job, one has the opportunity to meet a lot of new people, which I
have been doing lately. This can be a tiring process because you are usually trying to put your “best self” forward. Despite the effort, it is a process that I enjoy. I mean – I really love connecting with people. So I guess it’s no surprise that I have personal cards that literally say “So nice to meet you!” on the back. Yes, really. I do.
While I was reflecting on this cycle of meeting new people, I heard myself think (you all do that right- talk “out loud” to yourself in your head?), “I like that I like people so much.” I like being this kind of person, whatever it’s called. An anti-misanthrope, I guess.
In fact, I realized that I often kinda fall in love with people as I am getting to know them.
Not in an “I want to date you way”, but rather in the sense of realizing that this person is unique, and interesting, and full of stories that I want to learn more about. Like everyone else, as I get to know people there are some with whom I resonate or click more than others. On the flip side, it often goes the other way, when that first thrill of getting to know someone cools to something more like a casual interest or can even go steeply downhill. I won’t pretend that there aren’t also a whole bunch of people that also drive me crazy.
Now, the point of me sharing this is I realized that it felt good to take a few minutes and think about something that I really like and enjoy about myself. I admit that may sound strange, but I think I may be on to something. I want to invite you to think about something you really like about yourself. Whether it’s that you are funny, or a smart-ass, or wicked-smart; whatever that thing is (and hopefully you have LOTS of these things come to mind), whatever that first thing is- spend a few minutes examining it in your mind, or even writing it down. What are the gems in your treasure chest?
We spend so much time being critical of ourselves- and if you are anything like me, you can pick up that flaw and examine the HELL out of it- zooming in, zooming out, looking at it from every angle, rehashing how incredibly crappy you are in that one way, until you mind’s eye hurts from focusing on it so intently that you toss it aside in disgust. I would bet big money that we don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of time looking at the positives within ourselves.
So, examine a characteristic or trait within yourself, handle it the way you would some beautiful piece of glass or object d’ art. Hold it up to the light, stare into the depths of it, and think about why that thing makes you feel good.
Maybe share it with a friend or a loved one. See how it feels to say, “I love that I am so funny!” or “I have always loved that I can pick up sports so quickly (that would NOT be me, just for the record)”. Or if that’s a step too far, just set it gently back on its shelf to be admired another day.
I have this hunch that if you spend a few minutes a day picking out and marveling at all the good or fun or interesting things about yourself, you’ll find a little spring in your step and a smile on your face.
So you have an assignment and I want to hear how it goes. After a week, did it turn you into an insufferable ego-maniac or did you find yourself bobbing around like Mary Poppins or somewhere in between? If it was a fun experiment- share this post with your friends and family. I’m not gonna lie- it makes my day whenever someone shares or talks to me about a post I have written. So, thank you!
I hope you find a lot of gems to admire within yourself!
The last four months have been an education, as if I have been conducting and taking my own master’s class in Life. It has been a journey punishing, joy-filled, and above all, eye-opening. One of the greatest lessons I have learned may sound like a cliche but bear with me. Life is not about the “time” we have but what we DO with it.
When you are working, you believe that “not working” will give you a tremendous amount of time, but that oasis turns out to be a shimmering mirage. Similar to the adage about how people always spend what they earn, likewise, none of the time you have turns out to be “extra”. Entire days have gone by and I haven’t found time to respond to email. I get to the end of the day and feel as exhausted as I did putting in a full day’s “work”. Aristotle was right- Nature abhors a vacuum.
I want to share an idea that may especially resonate with parents but holds true for all. Everyone has an equation that looks something like this:
Parenting + spouse + work – crazy (from the previous 3 things) + self care/ TIME – (bills * laundry * school lunches * gym * sleep) = _______?
What’s the answer? Balance, Happiness, Perfection? Sorry- you think String Theory is hard? It has nothing on solving the equation of Your Life.
What variable can we tweak to get it right? The stark truth is, you’ll never solve it completely. EVER. Hate to break it to you, but go ahead and write this down in pen. The problem is, you will not get all the time you want. If you had no kids, no spouse, no job, no obligations- you’d still find your time card punched, even if it was watching utterly worthless reality television all day. You’d still be worn out at the end of each day (and perhaps suicidal, given THAT much Real Housewives or Honey Boo-Boo).
As I prepare to “graduate” from this self-imposed master’s class and look ahead to my next work challenge, I am faced with an array of choices- contract work, part-time work, full-time work, big company, startup, low pay, high pay, mentally-stimulating, dull but easy, sure thing, high risk- you name it. Regardless of the choice I make, I will trade-off or sacrifice something. Just as for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, for every choice, there is a consequence.
When I wrote about giving up my superpower, it was the beginning of understanding that trying to “do it all” is a fool’s errand- there is no such thing as “ALL”. You finally figured out how to manage work, kids, and your spouse… Great, how about adding a puppy? Or working out? Or healthy meals? You don’t want to add anything? Guess what- you’ve lost your job. You are getting a divorce. Your kid was expelled. Whatever. The variables go on forever. You will never reach “the end” until THE END.
Life is so immense and beautiful because of the endless possibilities, and yet, it those endless possibilities that make it brutally sadistic. Ha, ha, ha, the joke is on us!
I clearly remember in my teens, realizing that I would *never* be able to read all the best books in the world- not all books, even reading just the best ones would be beyond my reach. It felt like something died within me. I was defeated by the ABC’s- something I thought I had mastered at five.
Our time on this magical blue-green rock is limited, whether you think your life is cut from a cosmic cloth of fixed length or that you control your destiny. There is a point at which the fabric no longer stretches but snaps and that will be the end of it. Even if you believe in an afterlife, you are only getting one turn on THIS ride, with THESE people you love, and these FINITE minutes to spend.
So the question comes back to what we choose to do with our time. Not an easy question to answer. I’d like to humbly suggest a few ways to make the most of it:
1. Know what MATTERS to you. Is it family, friends, success, invention, creation, inner peace, exploration, leaving a legacy? Take the time to understand what you care about. This one is hard… put some effort into it. Write it down and check your actions against your list.
2. Laugh. Often. Loud. At yourself. With your friends. With your kids. From the gut. Use your whole body. Laugh ’til you cry.
3. Strive. If you are one of the lucky few given the chance to reflect upon your life at the end of many long years, there will be a moment when you account for your time, when you measure what you’ve done against what you have been given. Don’t let the tally of your effort come up short.
4. Forgive easily and forget quickly. Whatever baggage you carry, it isn’t helping. You have been through it, gnashed your teeth at it, survived it, triumphed over it- let it go. All it’s doing now, is weighing you DOWN. Travel light.
5. Hold your own hand. Treat yourself as you would your own child. Remember that we all screw up. We learn as we go. We will let ourselves and others down- A LOT. Give that kid inside you a break. Give yourself a bear hug. Babies and Yogis know the magic of holding yourself- you will be surprised how good it feels. <Now, would be a good time to try it- even just a little squeeze of your hands. C’mon, no one is looking.>
6. Flow. The river of life is no tame kiddie pool. There are rapids, eddies, whirlpools, stretches as smooth as glass, and cruel white waters that threaten to pull you into the river’s black depths- you have to flow through it all. Float or swim, cling to the river bank or strike out for the middle- whatever you choose, close your eyes and feel the flow.
That’s all I have. But I’d appreciate YOUR thoughts and feedback! If this helped you, made you smile, or made you think- I’d sure appreciate you sharing! Tweet! Post! Discuss! Blog!