Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken a few minutes to capture some evening photos. Tonight, I found the sky to be particularly beautiful, so rather than rushing in the house after tonight’s workout, I stopped for a few minutes … Continue reading →
I was talking with a friend earlier today about making adjustments to my daily routine so that I can have more time to relax, while still feeling like I’ve accomplished the things that I’ve set out to do. Over the course of our conversation, my friend asked me had I ever considered keeping a Gratitude Journal. Surprisingly, I have never heard of such, but I was immediately intrigued by the idea of recording daily a few things for which I am grateful in the present moment. Just think about how encouraging this can be, well at least in my current world I find it to be encouraging. To be able to take on a positive attitude about even the negative things going on truly is looking at life from a new perspective. How amazing is it that even on my seemingly worst day, I can be grateful for the small things like having a brief phone conversation with a friend whom I have not seen in a long time or being able to take a summer vacation with family members who I also consider friends?
We don’t live in a grateful society…people are quick to complain about everything – quality of service, the amount of time it takes to get things done, the cost of things, issues with our children, spouses, church folks, friends, coworkers, etc. – we have been conditioned to look at life through a negative lens…but, just as with film processing, the negative does not reflect what the actual picture looks like. If we only look at the negative, but never look at the print, we miss out on the beauty of the image. The same is true with our lives…if we only look at our lives through negative eyes, we never get to see the beauty of the world unfolding around us. Despite how things may seem, there’s some good in everything! So today, I’m digging a little deeper and searching for the things to be grateful for…
A few weeks ago I decided to do something a bit out of the ordinary…I decided to take some time off just for me! Initially, I thought about going out-of-town for a bit, but I opted to just stay home and have some relaxing alone time! That’s not to say I didn’t go out of the house, or see people…I treated myself to a spa day and went to my photography class, but I made an active decision to not allow the normal stress to enter my path. We all need to protect our space at times.
In a recent conversation, I admitted that I put a lot of pressure on myself. There are times when I want my 20-year or lifetime goals to be accomplished in this very moment, and for some crazy reason, if I don’t reach these long-term goals immediately, I get irritated and upset with myself. True enough, they are lifetime goals, but I value myself based on the amount of progress I’ve made towards reaching those goals. That’s absolutely the wrong way to approach life. I should value myself on the progress I’m making despite the challenges I encounter. But, for whatever reason, I can’t be content with losing 2 pounds in a week…nope, that’s not good enough…I’m the one who needs to lose 5 pounds a week consistently week after week in order to be satisfied. I can’t be content with saving $100 per week or making it to the gym 3 days in a week…no, I’m discovering that I’m an all or nothing person. I have no gray zone, I live in a black and white world and this is CRAZY! It causes a ridiculous amount of self-inflicted stress; I have to find that place of “good enough”!
I’m not even going to lie to myself and think that I can change my behavior patterns overnight. These behaviors are ingrained in me. I’ve been doing this for years, but over this past week, I’ve attempted to shift my thinking in how I approach my daily living, how I look at my long-term goals and how I view personal success. Previously I’ve put strict timelines on my goals, now I’ve simply started listing things that I would like to accomplish in my lifetime without the time limit. I really started thinking about what brings me happiness…is it reaching a list of goals in 1, 2 or 5 years, or is it experiencing life to its fullest? Honestly, does it really matter if I start a photography business in the next 6 months or not when I can go out tomorrow and take some amazing pictures and find happiness in that alone. Or, does it matter if I’m at the gym for 90 minutes every other night when I can take a brisk walk over lunch, or do an exercise video at home – it’s really my health that’s important, not keeping up with or beating the person next to me in the gym. So what if I’m not in the same shape I was in 2 years ago, so what if I’m not at the exact size I want to be…I’ve been to hell and back in these 2 years and despite what I think, I’m fine just as I am. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, but I’m okay as is! It’s tough for me to take this approach to living my life because I’ve always felt that I’ve had to prove myself and my worth to others, yet I’m finding that I can and should focus more on experiencing and living my life and appreciating my unique qualities and less on comparing myself to others. It’s about how I view me, not how you view me or how I stack up against others. I’m uniquely created and it’s time for me to start viewing myself as a valuable creation!