Everything in this world is fleeting. Everything. Life is hard – it literally kills us all at some point. Knowing the first two statements are true, how do you begin to live differently today?
I have been asking myself this question for a long time now. Worrying is in my blood and so is this relentless need to want to know everything. Perhaps that is called impatience? Yep, that is what I’ve got deep within my bones. A whole lot of it.
I have noticed some of my closest friends in the same boat – rowing and rowing and seemingly getting nowhere. This could be with a relationship, a job, parenting – you name it. As I’ve listened to stories and lived my own, I continue to search for ways to master myself because my mind is the biggest part of the battle.
It sounds easy to change your mindset or conquer your thoughts. There are so many things in life that I can easily learn and apply whether it be a new skill, understanding a mathematical equation or a challenge at work. But, this is not the case when trying to conquer my own mind. Some times are easier than others, but to consistently have the frame of mind to take you to the next level in life is something I am sure very few people accomplish in a lifetime. I am bound and determined to be one of them, though!
I tend to take bits and pieces of things I’ve read or seen and put together my own puzzle in terms of helping myself with anything. My mind challenge has been no different. So, here are the things I’ve learned so far to start to truly live above the daily grind and constant worry about tomorrow.
- Focus first on staying true to who you are and who you want to be
This includes doing all of the things you want to do while on this earth. Quit talking about everything you want to do and pick one thing and do it. Just one. Don’t sacrifice your personality for anyone. Don’t hold back for anyone. The right people will be in your life no matter what. I am guilty of this – over and over I am guilty of it. I hold back. So, I made a list for this one. My list includes every area of my life and every role that I play that is vital for keeping me true to myself. Tip: if you write it down it magically becomes easier to focus on. I am going to sign up for golf lessons next month. That is my action step. Keep me accountable!
- Take your time whenever you absolutely can – sit in the traffic jam instead of choosing the fast lane and see how your decisions change
I’ve read this before as practice the pause. My daughter recently wanted to get a pixie cut (and still does). When she makes up her mind to do something, she wants it right then and won’t even stop to think about it. It eerily reminds me of me at her age. Now that I am older and wiser I try to teach her these lessons but they just don’t seem to sink in very well?! I settled to let her get her very long, beautiful and thick hair (that I wish I had!) cut to above her shoulders.
There are so many times in life that once I get through something or give it time, my thoughts and feelings about the situation completely change. Practice the pause. Let go and let God!
- Be ok with the spotlight not on you
Pride and ego. Both can be so ugly and can highlight insecurities that you never even knew you had. My top two strengths from the Strengthsfinder assessment are Achiever and Competition. While these two strengths drive me to great things, they also get in my way. I always want the next title at work. I want to be the best at certain things. Those things drive me and that is ok. I don’t want to need recognition or attention, though.
I read once that “beautiful things ask for no attention.” Yet here I am continuing to want attention. All. The. Freaking. Time. I am working on this one. It has been an eye opener for me as I have tried to pinpoint the deep reasoning behind certain thoughts and behaviors. My goal is to serve others, recognize others and be content in the shadows, behind the scenes. There is this song I listen to and some of the lyrics are “I don’t need my name in lights. I’m famous in my Father’s eyes.” THIS. SO MUCH THIS.
- Respect yourself and demand the same of others
Make a list of your standards in life – for anything – your job, relationships, faith, etc. Respect yourself enough to stick to these standards. Speak up for what you believe in. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Don’t let yourself be disrespected first and foremost by yourself. And certainly not by anyone else. I am a people-pleaser and accommodating by nature, which makes this one especially challenging for me.
- Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket
No one is responsible for your happiness but you. Relying on someone else for it is the surest way to be disappointed.
“Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.” <— That is a sign I got from my parents once. I have a ginormous smile and an obnoxious giggle when you really get me going. At times I have been self-conscious of both. I was told recently that my son shares my exact laugh. I never noticed that before, but one thing I did notice many times was how much his laugh makes me smile. So, I have decided to smile and laugh my own crazy laugh as much as I possibly can.
- 24 hours at a time – nothing more
God gave us life in 24 hour chunks for a reason. He said he would never give us more than we can handle or tempt us more than we can bear. We do this to ourselves by thinking beyond the present moment. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are all one phone call, text message or media blast away from tragedy that personally impacts us. This is why we have many “before this” and “after this” moments. These are the lines drawn in the sand when we experience something that changes things so profoundly, nothing is ever the same afterward. And, no one is immune to these things. Living for 24 hours also helps us know we can get through anything. You CAN get through the next 24 hours and then the next 24 hours and then the next. Time has a mysterious way of making things ok.
I have been working on the 24 hour rule for a good year – not that I haven’t always tried to live this way – but it has been one of my main focuses. I don’t do this perfectly every day. I do take a deep breath and remind myself of living for the day when my mind starts to get too far ahead of itself. Living for 24 hours at time allows us to enjoy surprises as they come. Living for the day helps with worry. Worrying only makes us suffer multiple times instead of just when it happens – if it even ever does.
- EVERYTHING in moderation
80/20 rule. Not just with food and exercise, but with everything. You can literally over-indulge on anything other than seeking God. Give yourself a break and then get right back on track.
- Everyone you meet knows something you don’t
You will benefit from having a conversation you didn’t want to have or shy away from having. A quote that sticks out to me is “don’t be afraid of the conversations you are having. Be afraid of the conversations you are not having.” How true is this? It applies to all areas from the stranger sitting next to you on the airplane to your kids to your significant other to your co-workers. Put yourself out there, smile and ask someone a simple question in order to learn a whole lot. You never know who you will meet or what it will lead to.
- Have a forgiving heart
Holding grudges literally kills our soul. Try really hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you find it is difficult to give grace and forgive. Not a single one of us is perfect. We are human and we sometimes unintentionally hurt others (sometimes intentional too, I know) and unfortunately, often times hurt the ones we love the most. Give the benefit of the doubt first. Most of the time it is a lack of communication or simply coming from different perspectives. We assume that others think the exact same way we do. It is human nature. However, that is not true. The biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Love unconditionally. Be the nicest to those who aren’t the nicest to you. This will set you free.
- If you see something in someone or feel something for someone, SAY IT
There is nothing worse than suppressed thoughts and feelings. You also just might make someone’s day when you express yourself. This is something I read every single day to remind myself:
Missing someone? CALL
Want to see someone? INVITE
Want to be understood? EXPLAIN
Have a question? ASK
Don’t like something? SAY IT
Like something? STATE IT
Want something? ASK FOR IT
Love someone? TELL THEM
I will give fair warning right now that the list I made above is not an easy list to follow. I do better at some of them over others depending on the day, but I am constantly trying to live my life this way. I figure if I have one small win everyday, it will add up to a big difference. A difference where my mind is clear and I actually notice and enjoy all of the little things or surprises throughout the day. A difference where I worry less and tackle the hard stuff as it comes to me, instead of trying to tackle things in my mind, of which 90% + won’t even actually happen. A difference where I dismiss the vision in my head of how I want things to be and LET THEM BE AS THEY ARE. A difference where I give up control and just be me, loving the hell out of the people in my life, telling them daily and respecting myself enough to take care of every morsel of my being – mind, body and spirit.