Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Look to tomorrow, Rest this afternoon. ~ Charles M. Schulz
Why is that that people who are dying, live the most happy life? We have seen so many people tell us “live like you’re dying” and “don’t waste time”. People who are struggling want to bring awareness and help you change you’re life. Why is it that we all know this to be true, yet many of us don’t actually live. Why? Is it that we are comfortable in life? Is it that we know we have tomorrow? Or at least that we know we aren’t dying, so fun can wait until summer when the kids are out of school or when work slows down or when you have your ducks in a row? Well, as humans we never have our ducks in a row, nothing is ever quite up to par, we are never quite ready, the thought that we didn’t do it quite right stays with us always. I think it comes down to priority and passion. I think some people just aren’t passionate and don’t make life a priority. Maybe you want to make it a priority or you want to have fun and experience life, but you haven’t quite changed your mind set. I think some people want to live but don’t quite know where to start and others don’t have a strong enough will to change. When your fear of staying the same is greater than your fear of change, that’s when life gets more enjoyable. You need to have that aha moment, realizing you can enjoy life everyday. You can enjoy it at work, you can enjoy it after work, you can alter your days to experience more- go to the park, visit your local museum, play tourist for a day, enjoy a weekend in a nearby city, etc. I think we don’t know how to maximize our time to enjoy life. To do the things we enjoy. Good news- we can all work on this daily and be more happy!
I want to tell you a story about how I was stuck in unhappiness for most of my life. I am human and fall into the trap of thinking things will be better tomorrow. But my life has really shown me what I don’t want to feel and taught me how to be happy. It all started when my parents got a divorce when I was in 2nd grade. Long story short, it was a very unglued divorce in which there was a good period of time that my sister and I weren’t allowed to see our mom who was replaced by an unwavering abusive stepmom.
When I use to get thrown in that little half bathroom for hours and hours, I had a lot of time to think and imagine what life would be like if I lived in a normal family. How great would it be to sit at the dinner table and have a conversation about what I did in school instead of eating dinner crammed on top of that tiny toilet with only my reflection to look at. I could probably write a book, “1001 creative ways to sit and lay in a half bathroom”. Anyways, that wasn’t even half of what went on in that house. I actually grew to love that bathroom because I was alone and didn’t have to endure the emotional abuse. It was my sanctuary. I spent a lot of time wishing the years would speed by. I use to pray that God would let me wake up and be 18 so I can have my own life. (He did answer my prayer years later and in ways I didn’t know). I imagined how I would live my life. I wouldn’t be dysfunctional. I wouldn’t treat people the way I was treated. I wouldn’t let this experience ruin what I could become. I will have a great life- in spite of the constant abuse. In fact, I would live my life in a way that people would be shocked if they knew what happened, because I was a functioning but more importantly a happy human and not fucked up. (Not to say, I didn’t deal with my experience, because I most certainly did and still do). I just learned what not to do as an adult much earlier than most.
Fast forward- I’m 18 and start college. I would tell myself I will work hard and enjoy life when I am done. I worked 3 jobs so I didn’t have to take out student loans. When my friends would invite me out, I usually turned them down because I needed to work or sleep for work and school the next day. I’d hang out next time- sometimes I did. I missed a lot of college life, but I didn’t have debt. I was living in a mind set that I would have fun later. It was always later, always next time.
It wasn’t until the end of my undergrad(5 years later) that something changed and I fell in love with spontaneity. Well, planned spontaneity anyway. Evenmore so, when I became an archaeologist after graduation, I knew I wanted to change and live more but didn’t know how to do that. I was still stuck in the thought that I need to work and save up a lot of money then take vacations more often. Not that I was miserable everyday, because I wasn’t, but I didn’t enjoy my day to day life. It was a stepping stone to the next level, but there was always another level before I’d be truly happy.
The true turning point(I say that now because I have had many growth spurts- life is about constant change, constant growth) was when I left what was familiar and moved across the country not knowing anyone. My life changed for the better! I wasn’t comfortable in my ways and needed to figure out what I really liked to do, create a new routine. My dog and I explored when I got off work, we went hiking on the weekends, we took long drives, got lost, and made many new discoveries. I met my wonderful fiancé. It was the best decision I ever made!
I think everyone needs to have a life changing event. While we don’t deep down like change, we all need it. It could be anything from a small change like a new job, to a large change, like loss(as awful as it is, loss can change your life for the better). These changes, are more important to talk about to really understand change and happiness, instead of just saying “life is short- be happy”. Yes life is too short to be unhappy, but how do you know your unhappy unless you allow yourself to grow. Maybe you are so happy, but you don’t know what your missing unless you open yourself up to change. What’s the worst that could happen? You try a kiwi and find out your allergic to it? As long as it doesn’t kill you, you will learn something. Maybe you take an evening walk at your local greenway and find out you really enjoy the feeling you get as your shoes hit the pavement and the smell of blooming trees fills your nose. If you try something different and find you really don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to do it again, but maybe you’ll fall in love with something new.
So I leave you all with a challenge. Leave your comfort box and try something new. Spark up a conversation with a stranger next to you or the person checking you out. Do something you are a little afraid of, it probably won’t kill you and you’ll have a little rush from it. Leave me a comment and tell me how you stepped out of your box?
Wake up, Smile and Live a little more today.