What do we really need in life? This was my thought for the week as I watched the news and was perpetually bombarded by adverts for amazing, reduced goods for Black Friday.
Can we take time out to strip back our lives to what is actually important, or has that been lost forever in the realms of consumerism? I watch with amazement at the greed this time of year brings to people. I am not religious, I do not believe, but I do understand the sentiment behind the true meaning of Christmas.
Happiness is not gained from materialistic things. It does give us a quick-fix, an endorphin explosion, but this feeling is short-lived. We return to our norm pretty soon after the event. I think back to the days of panic sales shopping as a youngster. Bargains bought, that satisfied sigh as I unpacked all my trophies – that realisation that I had probably wasted a fair proportion of my budget on things that I didn’t really need. This time of year, the amount of debt people take on just to have the ‘perfect Christmas’ is shocking. Why not live within your means? Why not buy something meaningful or club together to buy the one big thing that would bring a temporary smile to a face?
I decided a long time ago that I would not join the masses in shopping sprees and battles to pick a bargain. It has been liberating. It has created less presents, but more presence; more peace of mind.
“We have a largely materialistic lifestyle characterised by a largely materialistic culture. However, this only provides us with temporary, sensory satisfaction, whereas long-term satisfaction is based not on the senses, but on the mind.” Dalai Lama
If you get panicked by material expectation during this month, take stock of what your season of goodwill is all about. We are worth more than money.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Charles Buffett
A habit: a settled or regular tendency, or practice, especially one that is hard to give up
All the things that cause us angst are down to our habits. As humans, we can formulate a new habit very easily. Scientists estimate that it takes about two months for a habit to become automatic and even worse….over six months onwards to break a bad one! We are doomed!
It is extremely easy to analyse habits, both good and bad, but it is often an insurmountable obstacle to deal with those that are holding us back. All habits are formed in the mind; that huge vastness of ‘stuff’ that bombards our every waking and sleeping moment. Being able to temper the mind is mastery. Layers of life events shape and distort our thoughts about improvement. To break a bad habit is a huge achievement, but one that few of us have the gumption to tackle as the comfort zone is a powerful womb to leave.
I have things I need to break, cycles that return time again. It is all about getting the headspace right. Wading through treacle, stasis, stuck in a rut….any of these sound familiar?
Having an inner strength allows us to finally begin to break these habitual chains; it is slow process. It reminds me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – so many tempting sweets in every new part of life to tempt you into deviating from your path. Habit-breaking needs bloodymindedness. A blinkered approach towards your goal. For those of a certain age, the Linford Christie tunnel vision stare (not the lunchbox!) is how I need to approach my demons.
But, as we are all fallible, we must be prepared to fail. Failure is all part of the habit. I dust myself off, learn where it went wrong and stand at the start line again. One day, I will win that gold medal.
Uncertainty. This word sums up how I view the world at the moment. There has never been a stability in the world; humans fight. We pick sides, support or condemn as our politics and opinion sway our individual attitudes and those of our leaders. Generally, you know what to expect – where the loyalties are whether it is with old allies or with new emerging powers for financial gain. Only lately, there seems to be less of this ‘old guard’ and more of the ‘tales of the unexpected’. I still recall the shock of waking up on June 23rd to the news we had voted leave. I admit that never in a million years had I thought that the outcome would be just that. Total disbelief amongst the people I conversed with that morning, whether they had voted leave or remain. The people had spoken.
So we fast forward to the Amercian election campaign. More showbiz and glitz than The Oscars – with the villain and hero changing day on day. It seems that the shockwave was sent across the pond. Our dissatisfaction with the status quo travelled with alarming alacrity to our cousins. It was on the cards. There seemed to be something almost DIsney about this outcome. Where it will take them, us and the world is yet to be witnessed. Uncertainty. Eckhart Tolle stated:
“When you become uncomfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.”
We can only watch and wait to see how the world reacts. One thing is for certain, the rule book has been torn up and thrown away. Maybe that is how we as individuals should view our own lives. If the norm no longer applies, and on a global scale anything goes, why not plan your own change manifesto?
“It takes courage to let go of the familiar and embrace the new.”
They always said that time sped up as you got older – with the whole of my life ahead of me as a teenager, I thought little of it. Now in my 40’s I can see that this old adage is truer than I thought. This weekend, I have the unwelcome second anniversary of my father’s passing. It does not seem possible. At the time of dad’s death it was almost a blessing, releasing him from the debilitating illness that had taken a choke-hold on someone who had always enjoyed fairly good health until later years. There were no regrets. I supported, cared and dealt with his every need; said all I wanted to say and have a clear conscience. It did leave a massive vacuum in my life, but appreciating and experiencing the spiritual side of life; he is still around.
It is time to take stock. Time to see what the past 700 days have sent me. I am a stronger version of me. I made the choice that I would not wallow and allow my grief to hold me back. I felt it deeply, yet did not shy away from it. I embraced the pain in a healthy way.
After a healing period of time, my mojo returned. It is very much a passion for allowing people to be their best selves – being able to open their ‘jack-in-the-box’ and face the challenges that hold them back.
Study can amplify abilities to train and nurture, but words can often be hollow when there is no life experience to back them up. As an educator, communication has been vital – to be able to think on one’s feet, to find the most suitable pathway for an individual. For we all know there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to repair, retune and reboot a human thought processes and actions. There are often key events that bring things to a head. That moment where enough is enough. The thing is there are always options, you just need to wait until you are in the best frame of mind to be able to reach out, find and accept that helping hand. If you find yourself in the process of taking stock, or wanting to begin then we are here to listen. Listening is powerful, it begins the journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. It leads to using strategies and tools to change and find happiness.
“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.”