I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook lately, peering at the curated versions of peoples’ lives.
It is so easy to view other’s worlds and think that their grass is greener. If you could just be like them, have their life, their friends, their children, their home, all would be well.
It would not be.
Perhaps because of the line of work I’m in, I gain access to what is really happening for people behind the veneer many of us portray to the outside world. Everyone has a story of sadness, loss, frustration, anger, or despair. Everyone has challenges and painful experiences they would not wish on anyone else; it is part of the human condition.
Our stories of pain can be what shape us.
And yet, I come back to optimism. Optimism, a belief that something good is coming, that, in that wonderful quote my friend KC Carter shared with me recently when we sat down to chat that: “Things always work out in the end. If it is not working out, it is not the end.” What a terrific way to look at things.
I know you are hurting. I know you are sad sometimes. You may be angry too.
Angry, like I am, that it takes so much to live this life now, so much being asked of us and so many options for how to spend our time and live life to the fullest. And so easy to feel angry and sad that we are not doing enough.
My question to you, and to myself, is whether or not you want to let that pain, whatever shape it takes, define your life? Or if you choose to believe—and therefore live—with the attitude and perspective that good things are out there, and that we just need to open our hearts to those experiences and adventures and welcome them in.
The incredible Amy Cuddy said, in her recent interview with me, and in her book Presence (paraphrased): “We need to concentrate more on the message we tell ourselves than the message we put out in the world.”
A wise business leader I knew about 20 years ago, who has gone on since then to create a company that is the premier provider in her industry, told me at the time (we were volunteering together for a joint cause), “You get out what you put into it.” Yes, indeed. Like time-lapse photography, it is amazing to step back and see what she has accomplished, professionally and otherwise, since that day, in part due to her attitude about stepping up and putting in the effort, stepping forward into life, taking risks and making connections and going on adventures so that she could make her life rich, full and satisfying.
I was recently in the hospital for a small outpatient procedure (everything is fine), and it really made me think. We really don’t know how much time we have, and it is up to us to make the most of it.
As we enter summer, I feel lightness, a time for rejuvenation, coming on for me. Do you feel it too? If you are feeling stressed by your circumstances, I encourage you to take advantage of the season to find ways to recharge your batteries, whether it includes an actual vacation, or not. Even a trip to the local library to pick up some fiction books to read can bring a much-needed break from the pressures of everyday life.
Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the world.
Even if your wallet got lost and was not returned (like mine was), there is good in people and good in you. You have the chance every day to make something fulfilling happen for yourself, to move ever closer to a life that you enjoy and a career that fills you up. If you need help, reach out for it, and surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up to live the life you long for.
You don’t know how long you have on this earth, but you have today. I encourage you to make the most of it.
Some ideas for recharging your batteries this summer and living life on purpose include:
- Visiting your local library (and enrolling in their adult summer reading program if they have one). Check out a few books that are just for fun, fictional stories you can get lost in. No self-help books allowed! And turn off that TV and read instead, at least a night or two per week…most shows are on reruns anyway.
- On your lunch break take your lunch and a journal and go sit in the lobby of a lovely hotel or other building and dream about the life you want to create for yourself… Make notes as you envision yourself living that life. Do that once or twice per week (this great idea from the inspirational KC Carter again) .
- Sign up for something that you have never done before or haven’t done in a long while. Whether it be running /walking in a 5K (like I will do on July 4th), or participating in a volunteer activity with a local charity, or traveling to a place you’ve never been before for a day on the weekend—stretch yourself in a good way.
Give yourself an opportunity to shake things up a bit and see how it changes your perspective….and rejuvenates your mental, physical and spiritual energy this summer.