I don’t know why I feel compelled to have New York City in the title of each blog, but whatevs.
I have 3 or 4 drafts of things that I’ve been writing over the past week or so. For lack of a better description, I’m a bit scattered in my thoughts at the moment – most of the country is actually.
Well – 60,981,118 of us are anyway, but who is counting?
When I was in high school I was a big political nerd, and I never could understand why. I had a dream of becoming a United States Senator for the great state of Texas. I was raised a hard-core Republican and in my head it seemed like the path in life I wanted to take. It all started with the presidential election of 2000, you know that other instance in our lifetime when someone who lost the popular vote was elected President of the United States.
No big deal, right?
Well it was a big deal then and it is today, but this discussion is actually not about politics. Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other feed you pay attention to has been littered with doom, gloom, and a loss of hope for our nation and humanity.
OK – have things been better? Sure. But in the last year or so I have realized one very important thing:
Focus on the things I can control, not the things that I can’t.
Seems simple, right? I had to come to terms with the fact that I spent most of my life as an unknowing victim pouring all of my energy into things over which I had no power.
Now I want you to know that I get it, and I am NOT downgrading your fears or concerns for our current situation. But – what if we took that energy and focused on things within our power? Let’s name a few things over which we have power:
- How we treat our bodies – giving them good food, exercise, and plenty of rest.
- Whom we surround ourselves with – friends that add value to your life and to whom you add value in return
- Where we work – a big one. So many people complain about their job or what they make as an income. If you do not like your situation, you have the ability to change it. Period
- Finally – we have full and total control of our attitude.
When I initially wrote that thought I flashed back to every lecture I had with my parents about how I need to “adjust” my attitude. I reacted internally with resentment and scoffed at how my attitude wasn’t the problem.
But it was. It took 15-ish years for the idea to finally click.
I can’t take full credit for this epiphany. I stumbled across a TED talk that discussed the idea of how our happiness is visible through the lens in which we view the world.
If your lens is clouded by negativity or you focus only on the things that are wrong with the world. Your happiness is much less likely to be.
It’s mind-blowing how simple the idea is, but it’s incredibly difficult to live your life by this rule. It means thinking about everything with intentionality. Basically it means finding the silver lining in all things. Which to most, I’m sure, sounds like a cliché and naive way to live.
While I’m far from perfect at it, I promise you it’s worth the effort. My level of satisfaction with my circumstances has increased exponentially. And – in the interest of being vulnerable, I’ll even provide an example.
I’ve spent the last decade wondering why – in my career – that I have not measured up nor been good enough to do more. While by some, I might be considered “successful,” but in my own opinion I have come up short every single time I’ve set my eyes on some milestone I wanted to achieve.
Specifically, I’m referring to a promotion.
Even with trying to view my world through a more positive lens, it is embarrassing and painful to even write the fact that I’ve been at the same level of leadership since I started my career.
How do I battle this shame? (Because yes, there’s a large bit of shame.)
Well, it’s about focusing on the fact that I have a career where I get to engage and people every day. I’ve had a hand in the development and promotion of dozens of people with the same passion for growth as I. It’s about remembering the fact that I work for a company that not only more than provides for my needs, but allows me to pick up and move across the country without skipping a beat. It’s about finally realizing that my career is a marathon – not a sprint – and almost everyone that I’ve seen move faster than I has eventually failed or quit.
Alright enough of that – but I did feel it was important to share. I’m practicing something I preach. It’s difficult to be good at it all the time, but it like I said, it’s a behavior worth practicing.
The moment you truly grasp the idea that your happiness is a choice you have full control over will be a moment your life changes forever.
So you may be in a job with which you’re not entirely satisfied – but you’ve got one and can pay your bills.
You may be in a relationship that could be stronger – but at least you’re lucky enough to have one you can decide to try to strengthen.
You might look in the mirror and think you could lose a few pounds – but you most likely have the power to change that if you made a commitment to yourself to exercise more.
And we have a President with whom you may not agree – but we live in a country that we have the right to at least vote and voice our concerns.
Focus on the positive. Focus on what you can control and most importantly, choose the happiness you deserve…
because misery totally sucks.