Posts Tagged ‘contentment’
© 2007-2011, Vicki Hinze
Tomorrow night the door closes on 2011. For some it’s been a good year. For others, the best they can say is in short order it will be over. But for the majority of us 2011, like most other years, was a mix of good and bad. How we view it largely depends on how we view its events or what events dominated our thoughts and time (more so than the actual events themselves) and the impact those events had on our lives.
Recognizing that offers us an opportunity to look back with a little distance (thus, a little objectivity) and also with the gems of wisdom we’ve gained from all we’ve added to our personal treasure chests this entire year, and that reflection with perspective brings us our biggest opportunities of the entire year!
What opportunities? Well, let’s think about that a sec…
Change. We typically shudder at the word much less the actions that come with it because change means we have to move outside our comfort zone. Even if the way things are aren’t as we’d like or they downright suck, they’re known. Moving into the unknown carries uncertainty and that scares our socks off. Why? Because change often is accompanied by conflict or challenges. That makes it a pain for us, and often for those around us who don’t want us to change. They like us as we are, even if we’re not content. Change is work. We’re tired already, but if we’re not content , we’re not going to get content by staying on a treadmill where we’re not content. And if we don’t do the work necessary to get off the thing, the simple fact is we’ll stay on it. So we have choose: park and pay, or move and endure until we are content. You can gloss it over all you like, but facts are facts. You want different? Create it, deal with challenges and conflicts and revamp until you are content. Others will accept or reject it. That’s their choice. You must take charge of your choices. Bottom line, you’re responsible for them.
Change is one part recognition, one part analysis, and one part action.
You can’t get off the treadmill if you don’t realize you’re on it. You’re stuck with being unfulfilled or discontent with life as you know it unless you recognize why you’re unfulfilled or discontent. That means you have to look hard at your life and be honest with yourself.
Explore what has you unfulfilled, unhappy or discontent. Once you peg the specifics, then switch your focus to solutions. What can you do to make wise corrections to better your situation? Once you know what has you feeling less than terrific, you’ll know what needs to be done. Really think about your solutions. Nail them down. Be specific.
Here’s the thing. You can recognize all the challenges in the world and deliberate on them for a lifetime, but if you don’t actually implement a potential solution and put it to work in your life, you’re not changing a thing to better your situation.
And that means next New Year’s Eve you’ll be sitting right where you are, complaining about the same things you complained about this year (and perhaps the year before, and the one before that). You must act.
In short, if it’s broken, fix it.
You might have to explore a few solutions before hitting on the “perfect” one for you. Some will try one thing, not like the result, and consider that failure. It’s not. You know it didn’t work. Try something else. It’s okay to not like solutions and keep seeking the right solution for you. This isn’t a one-size fits all bit of business. We’re talking about YOUR contentment. YOUR happiness. YOUR feeling fulfilled. That’s different for all of us.
Many try one thing, don’t like it, and give up or give in—and remain discontent and unhappy and unfulfilled. Who loses in that? Why do they value their own peace so little to quit and not try again? Only they can answer, but my heart breaks for them. Because they think they have failed and quit trying, they have failed.
But those who say, “Well, that didn’t work, I’ll try this next.” Those people who keep exploring will find the right potential solution for them. In a very real sense, they fail their way to success.
Now we’ve been taught that failure is a bad thing. But think about it. If you gain something–and knowing what you don’t want/what doesn’t work is every bit as important as knowing what you do want and what does work–then that’s growth, and it is success. Maybe you’re not where you want to be, but you’re closer. You know now these potential solutions you’ve tried don’t work for you. Try others. You dig enough, you’re going to find the perfect solution for you.
If you’ve been told repeatedly that failure is bad, then consider the previous statement your personal license to fail. Go ahead and just fail your way to success.
Before the door closes on 2011, review it, recognize the problem points for you, analyze them seeking solutions, then implement them. Always nurture the good and cull the bad.
Again, be aware that culling isn’t always painless or welcome (others often don’t like for us to change) but each of us must do what we feel is right. We must remember that doing the right thing is easy when it costs us nothing. When we pay dearly for it, however, is when we gain the most. (Think about it. Have you learned more, gained more from the hard knock lessons you’ve been through, or from the wins?) Bottom line, like it or not, we are responsible for what we do and do not do, and we will be held accountable for what we do and don’t do. We will also bear the fruit and/or burden of what we’ve done and not done. Important to remember those little facts.
None of this is a cut-and-run license. This is an evaluate-and-cull-what’s-no-longer-constructive-in-shaping-your-life-so-you-fulfill-your-purpose license. Doing less leaves you only with regret, and no one deserves only regret. Neither does anyone skate away from the consequences of their actions.
New beginnings require we put old endings to bed. It’s hard to focus on new ventures when we’re dealing with remnants of the old. Some overlap is inevitable, but the less of the old we have to contend with in the time where our focus should be on the new, the better our odds are of improving our position and making headway on the new and of building momentum.
Momentum is a powerful force. We put down a foundation. Upon it, we build. If one section is framed, we’re limited to going any farther on that one section. If two or three sections are framed, then expansion is possible on all sections. Momentum builds momentum. So the less time we spend in the past (deal with the old and get it done) the more time we have to invest in the future (welcome the new).
So do what you can to clear the decks–and that includes accepting what you can’t change. Don’t repress it, accept it. And then press on.
No one can have everything they want, but they can focus intently to gain what they want most. What do you want most?
Answer it. Not in general terms, but in very specific ones. Then answer this question: WHY DO YOU WANT IT AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO GET IT?
In defining why you want something, you often clarify and intensify your determination. You also often develop seeds for your plan of action.
The key here is to remember an immutable law that deals with free will. You are free to seek what you will. But you are not free to impose your will on any other. These questions should be about you. Not about anyone else. How you can improve yourself, your life, your future.
If you’re constantly replaying old unworthiness tapes, or you spend a lot of time focusing on what’s wrong in your life or with everyone else, you’re on the wrong track. Respect others and yourself and recognize that replaying those tapes over and over isn’t accomplishing a thing that will benefit you.
If you need more on this, go into the On Writing blog and read or re-read WINDSHIELDS AND REARVIEW MIRRORS.
Bottom line: Look within. Your answers and benefits lie there.
I won’t go into specifics here, but if you haven’t read WHY WE NEED A PLAN, I strongly suggest that you do. It’s in the On Writing blog.
Far too many slide day-to-day, going through the motions of living without investing in anything that excites them or arouses any passion for what they’re doing. That’s a problem. It’s a poor substitution for a life. Don’t get so caught up in busy-ness that you don’t even remember your wishes, hopes or dreams. And if you have forgotten them, pull them out of cold storage, dust them off and see if they’re still your wishes, hopes and dreams or if it’s time for an update–or even an overhaul. If it is, do it. You should be excited about your life!
Upshot: Don’t drift, design.
If you do, you might find a new passion. If you don’t, you won’t. You might be missing something that could mean a great deal to you–and the saddest thing about that is, if you don’t try it, you might never know it.
I’m reminded here of a story I heard some time ago about a guy caught in a flood. On three different occasions help came: a neighbor, a camel and a guy in a boat. On each of these occasions the man stranded in the rising floodwaters refused help, saying he was waiting on God to come help him. Well, the stranded guy drowned, hooked up with his Maker, and boy he was ticked. He demanded to know why God hadn’t come. God replied that he’d sent three different people to help. What exactly did the guy want?
The moral of the story: Sometimes we’re so fixed on what we think opportunity looks like that we fail to recognize it when it comes. Of course, that won’t happen to you if you’re open to new things…
Of all I’ve written in this post, this is by far the most important. It’s easy to fall into a hotbed of negativity or into a bad situation that sucks you dry, sows more seeds of discontent, or steals so much of your energy and focus that you grow inextricably mired in it and lose sight of what’s good and going right in your life.
When that happens, we react emotionally and that’s just not a good idea because our emotions aren’t reliable. We need balance to function with stability.
We all have challenges. No one escapes them. But if we focus only on the challenges (versus on solutions to them and other things) then we’re doomed to a very rocky, very unstable road and that is definitely not in our best interests–or in anyone else’s.
To gain more balance–which leads to more stable, less dramatic (and melodramatic) events that inflict trauma on us (and often on unsuspecting others)–we need only counter what’s wrong with what’s right. Counter the challenges with the blessings. See the good and be grateful for it.
Sometimes that’s easier to do than at other times. I’m reminded of something Joel Osteen once said about gratitude. There are times when the best you can do is to be grateful you’re not like x. (He pointed mid-air and said like him/her–I don’t recall which. But the intent in what he said fits situations and events as well as people.) Be grateful for little things as well as the big ones.
We often learn most from the things we tag as “bad.” We all have something to celebrate.
Before you act, you think. And if you allow your thoughts to run wild and unchecked, you diminish the chances of them being in your best interest. Anyone, given enough time, can rationalize and reason himself right out of good sense–and rob himself of accomplishments and even his destiny.
If you spend your time focused on the right things, good and constructive things, you’ll be purpose-driven and accomplish. If you spend your time focused on the wrong things, on negative or destructive things, you’ll follow that path and purpose and accomplishment (not to mention happiness and contentment) will elude you.
You choose which you’ll do. You choose what you focus on and give your energy–how you spend your life. That’s as it should be. Again, you’re responsible and accountable for it, and you will live with the joy or regret of your choices.
Now some will be busy at parties and gatherings on New Year’s Eve and that’s just terrific. It’s also why I’m posting this a day earlier—so you have time to read and review and think about your life before the parties start.
These things I’ve shared, in my humble opinion, are worthy New Year’s Eve’s opportunities. Ones that recognize, analyze and act to position you for powerful, meaningful personal gains in 2012. And for that, and so much more, I am grateful.
Put them to work in your life—and then you’ve got all the more reason to celebrate the new year!
A couple days ago, I posted the WHY WRITERS NEED A PLAN post with practical advice for you. In it, I referenced WRITING IN THE FAST LANE, intending to set it to free so that you could get a copy. These two, the article and the book, I hope will give you something that is of use to you in making 2012 your very best writing year.
The book is now free (officially, it’s free 12/28 and 12/29 until midnight). I want to make sure you have the opportunity to get it while it is free. The Amazon URL is: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fast-Lane-ebook/dp/B004BSGFZQ/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4.
Now if you don’t have a Kindle, don’t panic. You can get a free reading app on Amazon so you can read it on your computer, your phone, or other device. The URL to the free “Read books on your computer or other mobile devices with our FREE Kindle Reading Apps is: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=dig_arl_box?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771.
Do make sure that the price reflected on the page is $0.00 or FREE before downloading or you’ll be charged for it.
Suggested Reading Order:
1. The blog post: http://vickihinze.com/annual-why-writers-need-a-plan
2. Why We Need a Plan: http://vickihinze.com/why-we-need-a-plan-2
3. Writing in the Fast Lane: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fast-Lane-ebook/dp/B004BSGFZQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325032460&sr=8-1
For my non-U.S. friends. This book should be available in all Amazon sites where Amazon is allowed to do free books. Check your Amazon for the title. I gave permission to all available stores worldwide. If it doesn’t show free on your site’s listing, then it’s because it’s not allowed in your country and that’s out of my control.
I hope these resources help you get 2012 off to a great start and you have a wonderful 2012!
P.S. I have gotten a couple of additional notes asking if I’ll make the other articles free on Kindle. If I could, I would. But because they’re available in other venues, I am not permitted to do that.
A NOTE on WRITING IN THE FAST LANE
Originally, I wrote this book as a general book about keys to living a balanced life. School of Hard Knocks lessons that I had hoped would spare my children and others from tromping through some of the mud puddles I’ve hit. (We all love to keep our kids and friends out of situations where they’re mired down in muck and mud is squishing between their toes, slowing them down and keeping them down.
I didn’t publish the book in that form. I did share it and the feedback was good. But I thought of writers and worried about the high rate of negative challenges that seem to come with the territory, and I thought if adapted to writers, then this book might help them avoid some of those negative challenges and to be more content in their professional and private lives. So I adapted it. WRITING IN THE FAST LANE is that adaptation.
And I so hope it reaches out and speaks to you in a positive, constructive way–not just for the new year, but for the whole of your life.
WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Once upon a time there was a man named Charlie. He had a wife, children and grandchildren. Charlie lived his values, and his children did, and he hoped his grandchildren would. He was blessed in life and so when his grandchildren were old enough to enjoy a family vacation together, he took the whole bunch of them on one.
During the vacation, he and his littlest granddaughter were walking together and she spotted a shiny penny on the sidewalk. She stopped, bent down to pick it up, but then paused and left the penny on the concrete then ran to catch up with her grandfather.
He asked her why she hadn’t picked up the penny, fearful that she hadn’t learned the value of money. That she’d come back with a comment about it being “just a penny” and of little value.
She didn’t. She smiled up at him, and said, “I’m leaving it for someone else to find, Grandpa. I’m lucky enough.”
Grandpa, in relating this story to me, had a tear in his eye. His granddaughter knew the value of a penny and the value of values.
Charlie has passed on now, but he was gifted with knowing his granddaughter would do just fine in life. She understood the value of a penny.
When he related this story to me shortly before his death, I was moved by it, and it raised a question in my mind. When do the rest of us decide we’re lucky enough?
By nature we’re ambitious people. I think that comes to us in the survival instinct package. Ambition is a good thing. It encourages us to strive to be better, to tackle that which others deem impossible. It gives us the determination and drive to keep trying in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to keep seeking solutions long after many would give up.
Ambition is a good thing. A healthy thing. But it is not blind.
Blind ambition not tempered by values—like integrity, compassion, ethics, morals—isn’t good or healthy. It is seeking some desired goal at any cost. Any cost. Hurting others, hurting yourself, leaving a heap of figurative corpses in your wake as you step over, around, or on them to get where you want to go. Blind ambition is shallow and the results, even if you manage to get where you wanted to go, are hollow.
You will never be fulfilled exercising blind ambition. It is the road to many things, but contentment or anything constructive is not among them. When you look back over your shoulder and see all those you stepped on, hurt, all the wrongs you committed to make the climb, you are no longer blind. You see every wound inflicted, every wrong done, and rather than contentment, you experience regret and remorse and self-loathing. You ask yourself, “How could I do that? Why did I do that? Look at the impact of what I did?”
Personal responsibility and accountability can be tough taskmasters, and you can’t escape them. They’re not coming from others, though they could. No, the toughest taskmaster pricking your conscience, weighing on your soul and wearying your spirit is within you. You can’t put it on ignore. You have to live with it. That’s the yang of blind ambition’s yin.
So the moral of this little chat is to address the question: “Are you lucky enough?”
Before you answer it, remember Charlie and his littlest granddaughter. Remember the penny.
But most of all, remember the value of the penny.
© 2011, Vicki Hinze
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