by Jean Foster Akin
You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~~Rabindranath Tagore
I believe now that a better year actually IS based on my desires, focus, attitudes, and determination. I didn’t realize that before, but I do now.
Listen, I say a “better” year, not necessarily a “perfect” year. And I’m not being flippant toward those of you who live in difficult situations that you can’t change at the moment, or at all. In those bad situations, could you improve your daily life with a positive attitude? I think so, yes. But I also know there are times when you can’t even work up a smirk let alone a sunny attitude. Some people are in rough situations that are not their fault.
But when it has to do with negative attitudes in a land with opportunity, well, positive attitudes DO play into how much better things can be. They just do.
So, you ask how you can have a better year when you’re in a dead-end job, or when your marriage is falling apart, or when you’re bored out of your mind because your circle of friends has drifted due to new jobs in different towns? Or, they’ve started higher education classes that keep them running here and there but never to your door.
Own Your Life
There is a real danger in depression, and I am not referring to clinical depression here in this post. The truly depressed have no ability to draw strength from within in order to change their lives. They are exhausted, overwhelmed, self-hating, and often over-looked. They don’t need to hear: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” That’s a dismissive, uncaring remark. What depressed individuals need is others to hold them up and offer tangible assistance (I’m sorry, but saying “I’ll pray for you” is NOT tangible assistance–be creative, and put yourself out for those in need. For help or suggestions, try The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8522.)
But for those among us who are DISCOURAGED with the way their lives have turned out, I say: no one but YOU will ever have the desire strong enough to change YOUR situation. Haven’t you noticed?
Often we have the desire to change our lives, but we wait on someone else to make decisions that will improve our lives FOR us. “Someone Else” could be our boss, our life partner, our friends, or perhaps a higher power. It isn’t wrong to depend on people or to believe in something mystical that is higher than ourselves, but it’s ill-advised to believe that we can just sit there and wait for something better to come our way without our doing anything more than hope.
So, may I suggest that you think of a small plan, something doable, that you might use to change your circumstances, even a little?
SOME THINGS YOU CAN TRY
Dead-end job? Perhaps you could take a few classes to earn or finish your degree and eventually have more to bring to the table on your next interview. Too scary? Try one class, then. See how it goes. Or else, fall in love with your lousy, low-paying job. Which sounds easier?
You’re in a troubled marriage? If there’s physical abuse, remove yourself physically, seek safety and guidance. But if there is lack of communication, dullness, walls between you, don’t submit to the sentiment, “It happens in all marriages eventually. That’s just the way it goes.” I’ll tell you something: unless you are incapable of deep thought, of mindfulness, of being present in THIS moment, then you don’t have to settle in a loveless, spiritless marriage. It may well be that a couple of divorce lawyers will be making a lot of money in the next few months, but it may be that you can call out the elephant in the room and work together to change what has become a negative dynamic between you.
Maybe your friends have drifted away. You feel your relationship with them is receiving less than adequate attention. Maybe so, but YOU can join a book club, enroll in a painting class, learn a new language. You don’t need to cut off friends whose lives are changing–instead, love them, but meet new people and make new friends! Take a self-improvement course. Help a child or an adult learn to read. Volunteer to deliver meals to shut-ins or visit the sick in the hospital. Yes, we can feel hurt or even resentful when our relationships with friends changes, but to make things better, drop the resentment, be happy for your friends’ new enthusiasms–and find some new enthusiasms in YOUR OWN LIFE. Enthusiasms which give you purpose and enjoyment, which help others, and which give you the chance to increase your social circle. There are people out there who will be as delighted to meet you as you are to meet them.
Bored out of your mind? Read the last paragraph.
Our attitudes CAN change our lives. Instead of resentment, fear, and isolation–all which make us feel like victims of circumstances–determine to make changes to your circumstances YOURSELF, don’t wait for someone else to make them for you. Follow through and call the college, call the hospital’s volunteer office, call the marriage counselor, call the literacy volunteer program. The simple act of making a telephone call can go A LONG WAY! Not just for your life, but for the lives of others.
Whatever you do, even if 2018 was a pretty good year for you, it’s my sincerest hope that you’ll have an even better 2019. I know that this is happening for me. What about you? Have you made changes toward a better life? Encourage the people around you. Leave a comment below with your experiences and plans!
photos by Unsplash.com.