One of the things I like most about myself is that I try to empathize. To try and understand why people do things, even if it’s not what I would do. It has grown since 2008 when I decided to be more flexible. To “roll with the punches” as it were so that I was less agitated when change happened. I think it’s something more people should try to employ because it really reduces the amount of stress in your life. Because as they say, whether you’re happy or not is really dependent on how you see things.
So with this desire to be empathetic, it’s still hard for me to understand when people don’t learn from their mistakes. I was telling my coworker [and have probably said it before] but it makes me feel like a Vulcan [I’m really big on Vulcan’s these days] - “Why are you doing this? It’s just not logical.” Along with this is the fact that very few people listen to my advice. I know I’m not perfect, and I don’t know everything, and I really haven’t experienced much in the grand scheme of things - but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. And I try not to take it personal when I give advice and someone comes back with the same problem, never having even tried what I suggested. But it’s something I still struggle with.
I read all of these posts, specifically from designers &/or bloggers I follow having break downs. They talk about how they put too much work on their plates - they’re trying to do it all. They keep a good face in public, always smiling and talking like everything’s hunky-dory. But it’s not. And I don’t understand how they do that. I can fake it with the best of them for a little bit, we all do things we don’t really want to do, but to do it for a long period of time? I just don’t understand. In my mind, if there’s something that makes me really uncomfortable or I really don’t like it - I don’t do it/wear it/involve myself in it. So why do so many people continue to subject themselves to situations and thoughts that are bad for them? I’m sure there’s some psychological explanation, but I just feel like if it’s not a medical reason, just don’t do it.
I know it’s so easy to say that when I’m not in situation, no matter how much I can imagine what it’s like. But I also believe that if you want something enough, you do it. You want to be a stressed out workaholic? That’s what you’re going to be. You want to find balance in your life - whether it involves work, school, friends, family or kids - you do it. It’s not easy of course, but you do it. And a lot of times finding this balance of a happy life involves bringing other people into your problems. Which is scary, I know. And it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows everyday either. But do you want to continue trying to do it all yourself and be miserable, or do you want to be happy? Because that’s completely your choice.
Lately, Seth Godin has been my favorite reads. His insight is sometimes what I’ve been thinking or even stating in my day-to-day life, but also inspirational during my current career struggles. Recently he stated:
“You’re not lucky to have this job, they’re lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you’ll be making that investment.
That project that you’re working on, or that boss you report to… worth it?
Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won’t kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don’t care about, or working with someone who doesn’t care about you… you can do better.”
“…The best way to honor someone who has said something smart and useful is to say something back that is smart and useful. The other way to honor them is to go do something with what you learned.
Good listeners get what they deserve—better speakers.”
So maybe you’re having a hard time in your life, and you’re going to someone to vent. Do them a favor – listen to what they say. And I’m not necessarily talking about the small boosting talks we all need now and then – I’m talking about when you’re having a problem and you’re talking [sometimes complaining] about it and the person you’re talking to is trying to help. The best thing you can do to respect that person who’s there for you in your time of need is to at least consider what they’re saying. And you never know, it might be helpful after all.
For decades researchers have explored what is at the core of the best marriages. While studies have found many factors that predict stable, happy marriages, research has converged on an unexpected and rather prosaic, primary factor: friendship, not romance.
World premier marriage scholar John Gottman summarizes more than two decades of research and dozens of studies in stating that “the simple truth [is] that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.” Gottman believes that in good marriages, couples achieve an intimate familiarity with each other’s quirks, desires, fears, aspirations, and habits. They express this knowledge in big and little ways: ‘When she orders him a salad, she knows to ask for the dressing on the side. If she works late, he’ll tape her favorite TV show because he knows which one it is and when it’s on… . Without such a love map, you can’t really know your spouse. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?’"
from “The Prosaic Marriage” by Alan J. Hawkins, Elizabeth B. Fawcett, & Elizabeth VanDenBerghe
Read the excerpt here
Instead of trying to control time and schedules and manage hours and days, I choose to…MANAGE ENERGY.
By this, I mean - instead of basing my balance on the circumstances outside of myself, I manage the way I react to things (internally). I manage the amount of energy I burn over something…You only have a certain amount of energy each day, so you need to use it carefully.
Reacting negatively to things burns up energy very, very fast…It’s called a short fuse. Too much of a short fuse and your creativity and spirituality will be zapped. Keep it up some more and your body will be so deficient in energy that your body won’t even be able to operate optimally.
And, consider this: just because your day is planned out and you have X amount of hours for this and that, you could still feel unbalanced. Balance is not external. Case in point: you could be sitting on a bench in the park on a gorgeous day and STILL feel like a frazzled mess.
SO…how do you manage energy? This is what works for me:
1. Pay attention to small reactions. Little, little things add up during the day and contribute to draining your energy…I’m talking about all those little negative reactions to things….
2. Find your motivation. It takes DESIRE to turn things around and actually CHANGE the way you would normally react to things. Chang is a very big deal. But it’s oh so possible…
3. Be Still. Just seriously be still for even a SECOND when something irritable or negative goes down. That gives you a second to take a breath and prepare your next move….
4. Pursue something better. In the moment of agony or pain, irritation or anger - the way to begin dissolving it and UPROOTING IT (not just masking it or running from it!!!) is to focus your brain, your thoughts, and your heart on something better…Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS something good you can pursue, no matter what your circumstance."
1. Let go of trying to be everywhere at once, [and] stressing about trying to make yourself available at all times…
2. Focus the energy a bit more on your own talents, lives, charitable efforts, personal character development, spiritual development, hobbies and endeavors, etc. In other words, live your life to the fullest. As mentioned [previously], do not wait for life to begin when you meet your mate.
3. Develop your own network of like-minded people - both single, married, young and old.
4. Work on truly defining for yourself the kind of person that you want to be (and the kind of life that you want to live). Defining this is a very. big. deal. But I can’t stress this enough. Defining this while you are single and then beginning to truly live and breath the kind of life you want prior to marriage is worth GOLD!!!! Again, you have to live and breathe it yourself in order to be able to recognize it in a potential partner. (Start practicing now!)
5. Be bold about expressing to those around you the kind of person that you are. Anyone who knows you should know what you’re all about. This outward way of living…is key to meeting and connecting with people who are like you. As they say, your reputation can precede you, which can be a good thing too, as it can just automatically attract like-minded people to you.
6. Be open with your network about the fact that you would love to meet someone, if that’s the case. Don’t shy away from this or be embarrassed. Often times people in your network won’t know exactly if you’re dating or wanting to be in a relationship, etc. And it helps to put a bug in their ear, as otherwise they may not think of it."