We want to have a happy relationship, vibrant social life, a satisfying career and who knows what else. As much as I agree that these are important goals and we should always try to better ourselves, sometimes in the pursuit of achievements we develop certain entitlement and forget to be appreciative and grateful for what we already have.
I’m assuming you can relate to the constant feeling of necessity and obligation. “I have to”… get this paperwork sorted, meet a deadline, meet up with a friend, go to a networking event, see this play, oh and spend quality time with my partner! We rush through our lives, turning into things we should be enjoying into tasks to be ticked of the list. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a powerful drive indeed! I don’t know how you deal with it but I often end up pushing myself so much that my mood is really bad and I perform the scheduled tasks half-heartedly, not getting out of them what I should. The feeling of being worn out doesn’t leave much space for gratitude and appreciation.
An overscheduled life naturally creates entitlement. If we wake up at 6 and need to be at the gym at 6.30 to come back home and have a quick breakfast to then go to work and stay there till 6 and make it to a social event by 6:30, we put a lot of pressure on life for sorting everything out for us perfectly. There’s no time to spill coffee all over our clothes or to have a flat tire. This isn’t to say that we should always account for such events but life sometimes does work out in different ways that we have planned it to. It’s not a conspiracy against us, it’s just a reality we should accept. Apart from the events related with objects that can cause unpredictable changes (hole in the last pair of stockings, an alarm clock that didn’t go off, an accident on the road, which caused traffic), there are also living creatures that may have plans different to ours. It’s not our dog’s fault that he got sick on a day of our important interview, for instance. And yet, we tend to get upset with both inanimate and animate objects. Why does it always happen to me??? Oh, the horrible world in which not everything happens as I planned it to!!! Raging at the world and other people who end up not complying with our ideal plans is honestly being a d*ck. Sure, it’s natural but it’s just not a healthy way of dealing with life. It causes us higher stress levels and prejudices others against us as negative people.
There’s another way of dealing with life, though. I heard Tony Robbins on Time Ferris’s podcast, not long ago, saying something to the extent: If you stop seeing life with a lense of entitlement and look at it with gratitude, you’ll immediately get a new life. In other words, there’s a way of looking at everything differently, regardless of the circumstances. I can choose to get bent out of shape this one time when I end up having a day when things just weren’t working out smoothly or I could appreciate the days when they do. We just expect that everything will work out the way we’d like to but honestly we’re extremely lucky when it happens. If we think about the probability of things going wrong, we truly are fortunate most of the time. So many other people in the world don’t have what we have and we just always want more and more and more. Life does get better if we become appreciative and there’s plenty of research on gratitude to prove that. There are also many ways to start this journey: from enumerating three good things that happened to you every day, through giving people thank you notes to contributing your little bit towards a good cause.
My final thought for today is that we keep going about our lives as if our existence was of utmost importance. We think that if we don’t do this or that, some horrible consequences will occur. That our company won’t survive without us or who knows what will happen if we miss a social event. Then sooner or later we get some sort of limitation from life to remind us that it’s really not all that serious. I remember when on day on my super busy schedule I broke my foot when walking to the gym, still in my probation period with a company. I ended up working at home one day and taking off the second one for a prolonged visit at the hospital. I had the most horrible scenarios in my head. How will I get to work? Will I manage to work through the pain? How will I do anything as a temporary cripple? My then boyfriend was going on a business trip the day after I broke my leg and we were moving in together a few days later. #englishrosiee crashed her car in an accident so couldn’t help me with chauffeuring, she also broke my bed just after I had my accident. Everything seemed to be going wrong! For the first few days, I couldn’t even make myself tea, because the pain was too much to put any weight on the foot and try to prepare something on crutches… And yet, I did survive the six weeks necessary for a fracture to heal. I repaired the bed, I managed to get to work, we moved in together. This period of my life was definitely far from amazing and I was quite sad most of the time, not being able to socialize properly or exercise. At the same time, I really appreciated having a partner who took care of me. The foot did get better eventually and after not even two months I had a more or less functional leg I could enjoy. There are people in the world who’ve never had that…
To sum up, it’s not life’s or anyone’s responsibility to behave in agreement with our plans. It’s a blessing when it happens and we should appreciate that, rather than rage when things go wrong. Perhaps, it is a blessing in disguise when things collapse occasionally, as it serves as a reminder, that we treat everything more seriously than adequate. Besides, if life never surprised us, what’d be the point of it at all?
Are you an appreciative person, Dear Rinser? Maybe you’re a horrible moaner? Glass always half full or half empty?