Have you ever thought that more often than not for many of us the first thing that crosses our mind when we wake up is “I did not sleep enough“? And the second thing we often think and say is “I don’t have enough time“. Interesting?…or rather worrying I would say… No matter if it’s true or not, the thought of “I do not have enough” of something… automatically crosses our mind, without much questioning or real examination. It’s like this society we live in has programmed us so.
We spend a great deal of our lives worrying and wining that one thing or another is not enough. Before touching the floor in the morning, before standing up, we feel that things already don’t go at the pace as they should, that we are lagging behind, that we’ve lost something, that we miss something. And in the evening, when we lay in bed, our mind repeats over and over all the things we obtained or that we did not do that day. We fall asleep with the burden of our thoughts and we wake up thinking of what’s missing from our life…
It’s like we have an automatic feel for an internal discontent with ourselves and our lives, and this lays as foundation for feelings like jealousy, greed, intolerance, feeling of being fed up with this life. Anyways, nothing good in the long run actually comes out of this thinking. It’s negative vibes that we start our day with due to the hectic lives that we have. And actually, if you think about it, it all comes down to the feeling that “I am not enough…”.
But it’s ok. Admitting you are inclined to think as I described is the first step towards a shift in mindset. How about waking up each morning feeling gratitude for a new day, for all the good things in your life? And if you have problems identifying those good things, just sit down for 20 minutes and put them on a list. Start with health, body or the people surrounding you or the experiences life has given you to go through and so on. Nothing is for granted. Everything is a gift to be cherished. So be thankful for it every morning when you open your eyes. Block the “I don’t have enough, I don’t…” thoughts and replace them with “I am grateful for…”. You may notice, a glimpse of a smile when you do this.
Also, when you go to bed, think of the highlight of the day, the best thing that happened to you that day, no matter how grey or bad overall the day was. Be grateful for that one little thing (or big thing I hope :)) that was good. I am sure you can always find one.
Practice gratitude and positive vibes will just come automatically. It happens to me all the time. It’s not easy to train your mind to think this way. We have years of training into “There is not enough of…”, and coming from an X-communist culture myself, this thinking is very well embedded in our behavior. But it’s changeable, and when you manage to replace discontent with gratitude, your mood will change, the things that you attract will change and you will put a positive twist on your every day no matter how grim it may look initially. And it’s not overacting to say, it will change your life. It’s worth to try, believe me 🙂
It’s been a while since I’ve actually used writing to express myself. I guess the last few months, when apparently my perfect image cracked and I was confronted with accepting and loving an imperfect self, made me do it again. Expressing is good, and guess what?, it will always be imperfect. Expect others to judge it! But every each of us should do it. I am the silent type. I do not counter fight, I do not defend myself, I do not speak, I don’t complain… I listen, internalize, sometimes grieve, feel guilty, apologize the most and find my strength to move on and live life. I am actually bad at talking about what I feel. But, in time, I understood this eats me up inside, it pills up, all the unsaid… and writing, well, in my case, apparently helps. And… I have to admit it feels good. So bare with me, if I spam your News feed. I have no intention of using imperfection to avoid owning mistakes in general. That would be against what I am trying to write. I may not be the perfect writer, but that’s not the point. The point is to express what I feel and think, as imperfect as it is, and maybe grow in the process, while, if I am lucky enough, inspire others to do the same and not be afraid to show to the world their beautiful imperfect selves.
What I’ve learned lately is how to value the authenticity and beauty of imperfection. I don’t pretend to know it all, neither am I a model of living to follow, but what I know for sure is the importance of owning who you really are, with the good and the not so good, the highs and the lows, the strengths and the weaknesses. I’ve done right and I’ve done wrong, I’ve made people happy and helped them, and I’ve hurt some deeply in the process, I was a reason to smile, and a reason for tears. Complex, right? But this is what each of us does in a lifetime, every each of us, whether you like it or not. Think about it… This is actually how we grow and we never stop learning and growing over the years. But more importantly, the fact that we are so damn imperfect makes us unique. This is why in order to evolve happily and live beautifully (as I like to say), we need to own it, take responsibility for what we do, learn from it, understand who we are, accept it and cherish life in the process.
I recently started reading a great book I received from a dear friend – “The courage of being vulnerable” by Brene Brown. It really inspires me… with every page I read. Because, yes, it takes balls for a man and lots of guts for a woman to show their vulnerabilities to the world. It is so damn courageous to do so, to stand naked in front of everyone with all you are and feel, and own it. I have lived most of my life avoiding being vulnerable. Though it is so natural, so human, so part of who we are. I have built walls around me not to get hurt, keeping a calculated distance from falling too deeply in love, maintaining control, acting flawless in school or at work, showing strength no matter the situation, and actually even being proud of my no-tear shed for anyone track record in my personal life. But this me, without vulnerabilities… wasn’t really me. This was ultimately pretending, a mask, hiding a more sensitive self. And I have missed a lot pretending… feelings, personal inner development, the beauty of loving with all your heart, the growth and motivation that pain and sorrow can arise from oneself.
When we act bullet proof strong, cold, in-control, we actually put a shield around us and pretend. It’s valid for everyone, and we all are all doing it at some point in time in a situation or another. It’s that pressure of being unbreakable and perfect… In the end, if you think about it, who defines perfection? Social media, friends, family, your network, media in general? Probably other people that pretend to be untouchable, so it’s all a perception in the end. Nothing real. What is real is YOU. The real YOU. Late at night, when you close the door, and there is just you, your thoughts and nothing else, does that uber-strength still apply? Does it really? And then I ask, who are we really? Who is the real YOU? It’s beautifully imperfect the vulnerable way we are. The best feeling is to embrace it, accept it and love ourselves for it. Because it’s real. It’s like living in the NOW. I would actually put vulnerability, together with imperfection, genuine love for oneself and others, and living in the present, as pre-requisites for living beautifully, peacefully and in content with us and the world.
To end this small monologue, I read about this 10 principles of living life to the fullest by Brene Brown in another book, and I thought they are worth sharing. I plan to follow them as much as I can. It may not be easy, but my newly discovered imperfection calls for it :).
- Develop your authenticity – don’t always think of what others say
- Develop your self compassion – give up perfectionism
- Develop your resilience – fight against feelings of being hopeless and incapable
- Develop gratitude and happiness – fight your fears and stop thinking of what is missing from your life
- Develop your intuition, your self confidence and confidence in others – give up the need for security
- Develop your creativity – stop comparing yourself with others
- Invest more time in playing and resting – results at work do not always define who you ultimately are
- Develop a state of peace and silence – give up anxiety
- Invest your time in what makes sense to you, don’t question yourself and don’t live by the expectations of others of you
- Don’t forget to laugh, to sing and to dance – stop pretending that you control every situation, it’s pointless
I was thinking the other day how that fact that I have been raised by my parents in the ultimate Disney culture left a strong mark on my personality. Watching fairytales and being inspired by happy endings really shaped my perspective on life. Funny, right? But ultimately true and those who know me can confirm :). So there you go: I believe in people, in breaking the odds, I am more than often too optimistic and of course I believe in happy endings and true love or the idea that two people can find each other and be truly happy together for the rest of their lives. And yes, until some time ago, I also believed in the one true love and the perfect relationship. The last two beliefs were shuttered with age, I must say.
There is one thing that maybe is not as accurate in real life as in fairytales: the fact that there is only one person in the world for us, and unless we find that person, we are doomed to a lonely life of romantic misery. In fact, what I learned through experience is just the opposite. There are actually a lot of people with whom we could experience a passionate love and a deeply fulfilling relationship. When we limit our search to that “perfect” someone, we foster a mentality of perpetual “window shopping” (if you know what I mean 🙂 ). Moreover, we’re very likely to give up too easily on what could be the “perfect” imperfect relationship. It took me a while to understand, but once I did, I was highly relieved and things changed for me: my relationship and the way I felt in general. Seeking perfection is tiring & pressurizing, and it is not at all fulfilling on a longer term. Those of you who are perfectionist know what I mean. It is a sacrifice to seek perfection.
Most of us were fed by fairytales, media, our friends or family that love should come and be easy, otherwise it is not love. II used to believe this, but not anymore. No beautiful or good thing comes easy. Think about it!
Whether, it’s during the first week of dating or the seventh year of relationship or marriage, all relationships will inevitably hit rough patches. These patches often send people running away, rather than staying around to try to work it out. I did this mistake, and most of us, women, do. We like building ideals in our head of the perfect man, perfect relationship, perfect house and so on. But it’s nonsense. I read an article by a psychologist who said “If I could make one change in how Western culture views relationships, I would change the perception that infatuation equals love. Love points out that the initial stages of a relationship often leave the brain flooded with “happy” molecules, a chemical reaction that heightens both emotional and physical attraction. Once these molecules subside, problems surface, leading to conflict and, sometimes, even break-ups.” This does not mean to settle for something that does not work, of course. People may end up realizing they are incompatible after the “love sparkles” go away. And going separate ways is the right and mature thing to do. What I am saying is just that one should deeply look into why he/she is are running away from when issues arise. Some things may be beautifully imperfect even though they are not how we have pictured them initially. You know it’s right to be next to someone, if you have many moments of calmness of mind and soul together. This should give you confidence that you are at least compatible. The rest can be fine-tuned.
Because all relationships are likely to challenge us, the best relationship advice I can give is to find someone you really like and invest in that relationship. Stop looking for the perfect partner and start focusing on what you need to address within yourself in order to achieve a more ideal romance. A relationship is one of the best ways for developing yourself. There are many unexpected choices that could make you happy, but to make a relationship work means being willing to take the ride with someone and then looking inward. Imperfection may surprise you!
Real relationships are rarely easy, but they also shouldn’t be too hard or hurtful. Instead, they should be looked at as an adventure, so we shouldn’t expect a perfectly smooth ride. Every couple is made up of two independent people with two sovereign minds. This means, at times, the two may see things differently. Struggles will arise, and when they do, what matters most will be our ability to get through the hard times. We can anticipate and face challenges with a combination of strength and vulnerability. Yet, to start this adventure, we must open our hearts and minds to the another person. It took me while to do so, but once I did things completely changed, for the good. Naturally, some connections are stronger and some choices more ideal than others, but any love can grow when we are willing to explore our own limitations and grow our own capacity for closeness.
With my birthday knocking on the door, it’s that time of the year I start overthinking my life. Let’s say this weekend I had some extra spare time (more than usual when I act social) to do this as I have been indoors with a flu. Honestly as a bad human habit, or blame it on the fever, I started thinking not at the things I have accomplished so far, but at those missing from my life first…
It took me some time to recalibrate and refocus on all the good things I have been given in my life, realize how many they are actually, be grateful for them, never again fall in the trap of taking them for granted, and welcome the future with a big smile on my face!
I read this great quote today…about Gratitude: “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)
Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, little things, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present, which is more often than not a lot! Focusing on being grateful and saying thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. I know many may say I am slightly unrealistic, preaching about a constant state of positive gratitude, but if you would practice gratitude, you would see I am not. Actually, to say you feel grateful is not to say that everything in your life is necessarily great. It just means you very are aware of our blessings.
Most people, including me, tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. Have you ever imagined for a second what it would be like losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your house, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort? I did today… and it was a sort of “Aha, moment” combined with “I am damn superficial! Get a grip!” 🙂 Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. I did this exercise a few times, and it just made me realize how lucky I am and really blessed.
Every each of us should start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable “deposit” saved up, being richer, slimmer, more popular, getting married, starting a family, and so on.
What I have learned is that when things don’t go my way, I believe that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. So, when I calm down, I ask myself: “What’s good about this situation?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I actually benefit from this?”. It has worked every time to put me back on track and feel comfortable with a not-so-comfortable situation.
Once you become oriented towards looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Just try to start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful. This way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming presently happier. 🙂
If you ever asked yourself how a positive person deals with disappointment, well, he/she simply deals with it. Period. And finds a way to ultimately transform it into a learning experience.
I have realized that each time tough times come around, I learn a lot about myself. So this is how I take the unpleasant – an opportunity to grow, to change my limitations and outperform my reactions and attitude.
Also, tough times make me be more aware of who I am and what I want. Weird, right? But think about it. It may have happened to you that during a difficult period you understood better what you want at the end of the day, you cleared your thoughts and focused on what really matters. The irony…
The more I thought about how I deal with not so pleasant times and situations in my life, I realized I actually apply a pattern so I put down 9 ‘Mantras’ or tip&tricks for getting over those tough days/times in your life… So here they go. I hope you find them inspiring.
1. I have what I need to get through this.
Thinking things like “I can’t do this” or “This isn’t fair” will cause you to feel defeated. Rather than insist you need more, remember what you already have. If you’ve made it this far in life, you clearly have some skills, tools, and resources already in place.
2. Living according to my values is what really matters.
There are going to be people who won’t like you and times when people will disagree with the decisions you make. But your job isn’t to please everyone. Be brave enough to live according to your values, even when that means making unpopular decisions.
3. Failure is part of the road to success.
Failure is not fun, but beating yourself up over it won’t help. Each time you fall down, it serves as proof you’re pushing yourself to new limits. Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow stronger and become better.
4. All I can do is my best.
Demanding perfection from yourself will do more harm than good. Whether you’re interviewing for a job that you really need, or you’ve got one last shot to try for that promotion, insisting there’s no room for error will skyrocket your anxiety. A little self-compassion will help you perform at your peak.
5. 5 years from now this won’t matter as much as I think it will.
Keep temporary problems in perspective by reminding yourself that the emotional pain, anxiety, or turmoil won’t last forever. Many of today’s crucial decisions and major worries won’t actually matter that much a few years down the road.
6. I’m stronger than I think.
A serious health problem or an unexpected break-up can be very difficult to handle. But catastrophic predictions like “I’ll never recover from this” or “I won’t ever be happy again” will only drag you down. Adversity often reveals hidden inner strength you never knew you had. Believe me, I have been there, done that and made me a better me.
7. I can handle feeling uncomfortable.
It can be tempting to stay inside your comfort zone, but getting through tough times often requires you to do something different. Although emotions like fear, embarrassment, and disappointment are uncomfortable, they won’t kill you. Be willing to face those emotions head on and you’ll gain confidence in your ability to cope with discomfort.
8. I am in control of how I think, feel, and behave.
Blaming other people for what’s going on in your life won’t help your situation. Acknowledging that you’re in control of how you think, feel, and behave can empower you to either make the best of your circumstances, or create positive changes in your life.
9. I’ve been knocked down before and I can get back up again.
Look back at the times you’ve persevered before. Recalling your fortitude in dealing with past struggles can help you summon the strength to deal with current problems.
I really like listening to people, to what they say, because sometimes the wisest or most motivating words you hear come from people and contexts you least expect. We all have a hidden sense of innate wisdom. The more we grow and develop, the more it surfaces.
So talking about the best things in life and the most beautiful ones never coming easy or falling from the sky… this I just heard today, from my gym instructor trying to motivate me into doing my 5th series of weights and squats combined… well, truth be told, it worked big time, because I immediately realized (under some extent of physical pain) that what he just had said touched upon way deeper thoughts that were hunting me for the past weeks than just a beach body. It touched me where I most needed motivation: personal and professional life, and actually life in general.
Let’s say I have been deeply challenged for the past 3 years personally and professionally, and things have happened that have shaped me differently, developed me, made me sometimes less of dreamer, more of a fighter, saddened me, disappointed me or gave me wings. However, all the beautiful things I lived came with a sort of trial period before when it was tough, when sometimes, I was close to cracking, very close… I just never let myself crack… no matter what because I know better things come along. I just know, and they do come.
Tonight, it seemed like this guy put a label on what started tormenting me weeks ago and maybe to be honest, what was slowly eroding my ultimate optimism. I realized that starting from as early as making the first baby steps (which require some really heavy motivation and effort from an early age), going to getting a good education&development, following a real passion (arts, music, sports or so on) that requires great sacrifices by the way (and I have seen my friends doing it), then moving on to being with the right person in life, and maintaining a healthy and happy relationship (sometimes from abroad or distance, sometimes tried by deception or other happenings), or getting that perfect body (I currently feel the pain – believe me!), and reaching to growing in your career (that comes with the good and less pleasant parts) or having the strength to recover from a disease only to enjoy life again… all of these great things never ever come easy. There are million examples from each of our lives. Whatever comes easy, is not actually that very best or beautiful anyways. Think about it. It is usually just “nice to have” or “ok” (and I just do not like this “ok” word…makes me think of mediocrity always!).
And this is the natural course of life… going through an effort to recognize and gain the best. This is who we are. It’s written in our genes, which means we are natural fighters, and giving up or being demotivated is against our nature. Therefore, complaining or feeling sorry for ourselves is not who we genuinely are nor does it make things easier.
I am not saying this so that we settle for acceptance (I do not agree with this rational plain view), I am saying this to underline that the power to get to those best and beautiful things lies in each of us and it comes natural with life and having the best.
Remember this next time you think you are so very close to giving up on what you truly want and desire. You genuinely have it in you to get it. Remember, it is written in your genes. Just look closer in yourself, let it resurface! Look up, fight on and do it with a smile on your face!