I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.
“Expect Less, Appreciate More.”
Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life.
They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long.
But reality sets in and they don’t get everything they think they have coming to them.
Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in.
However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in.
People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have.
The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail.
We don’t need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us.
The U-shaped curve of life–where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years.
Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us.
And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
It’s very important to have time (and space) to sit down and think.
Not just go through life in the motions–“doing”–because that’s the way we always did it or that’s the way your parents did it, or that’s what your teachers or society told you to do.
Thinking means we evaluate and assess what we are doing. Are we going in the right direction? Are we happy with ourselves? Are we good people doing good things? Are there things that we regret and need to learn from and/or course correct. Can we do better and what does better mean?
I remember at a certain point in my life working very hard, but also feeling like I was in a fugue–and when I “awoke” I couldn’t figure out where the time went to and why I had been sort of numb for a time. Were some things perhaps too raw or painful to deal with (better to shut them off somewhere in a little box) or was I just moving so fast and so hard that I just lost sight of my surroundings and the meaning or lack from it all.
But then I started to feel and think again. And I knew it because it was like an monumental awakening from a long hibernation through eons of time and space. What precipitated it all, I don’t really know. But when it started coming back–memories, feelings, some satisfactions, too many regrets–I knew that I had been gone a while and wasn’t sure exactly where I’d been.
So need to regularly stop and “smell the coffee”–think and feel–not just do like a real dummy or stubborn a*s.
The dilemma with thinking is too much or too little is that it can be a dangerous thing.
Too much time to ponder and you can become lost in thought or mired in analysis paralysis. Don’t bother me, I’m still thinking about it. Or perhaps, your thinking can be “all wrong” and messed up–your misunderstanding, misconstruing, not thinking clearly or brainwashed by others–maybe those with good intentions who want you to be like them, who think they know better, who mean well but are misguided when it comes to YOU or are engulfed by their own zealousness, self-righteousness or are even jerks trying to f*ck with you.
Also, while ample time to think can leave you revitalized, with new direction, commitment, and enthusiasm, the flip side is you can become demoralized or depressed by “it all,” It’s too much, it’s too hard, it’s too meaningless, or even it’s too overwhelming important and meaningful.
Then there is too little thinking going on in that head of yours, and you are a dumb, numb robot who washes, rinses, repeats…not knowing why they are doing it or maybe even that they are doing anything, just that they are in a state of being. It easy maybe to turn off to the world, to keep running on the treadmill of life, get up and do the same routine day-in and day-out. Not questioning. Not feeling. Not getting hurt or dealing with issues better left for another day. But that’s not living. That’s a life of a sick roaming flesh-eating zombie. Someone just stick that iron rod through that useless skull already.
Think and live…live and think…go forward as in a directed, meaningful way, and not as the walking dead in pain and sorrow or lost in the abyss of lifelessness. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
I watched an interesting TED video presented by Brene Brown, who has a doctorate in social work and is a author many times over–she talked about one book in particular called The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who We Think We Should Be and Embracing Who We Are(2010).She said that from all her studies and research, what she learned is that purpose and meaning in life comes from the connections we make and maintain.
But what gets in the way is shame and fear–shame that we are not good enough and fear that we cannot make real connections with others.To move beyond shame and fear, we need to feel worthy as human beings–true self acceptance–and say “I am enough.”
However, she points out that as a society there is a lot of numbing going on (i.e. plenty of shame and fear) and that is why we are the most in debt, obese, addicted, and medicated society in history. I liked this presentation and thought about how hard we are on ourselves–we are never good enough.
- All our lives we pursue signs of advancement from that gold star in grade school to collections of degrees, awards, promotions, material goods, and even relationships.
- We constantly push ourselves further and faster on the treadmill of life–in part to learn, grow and be better, but also to try to achieve our sense of self-worth and -acceptance.
Yet, as Brown points out those that are successful with relationships and have a strong sense of love and belonging are those that feel they are inherently worthy. They have self-esteem without having to achieve any of these things.
That sense of self-worth and confidence, Brown says, enables you to achieve three key things in life:
- Courage–This is the courage to be yourself and to tell others who you are with a whole heart (i.e. they don’t hide in shame).
- Compassion–That is compassion for others, but also for yourself first–you accept yourself.
- Connection–Getting to solid relationships in life is a result of our own capacity to be authentic.
When you have that self-worth and confidence then you can embrace your vulnerabilities and make them beautiful, rather than numb yourself to constantly try to cover the disdain you feel for your frailties and weaknesses.
From my perspective, our growth and contributions to the world are good things–leave the world better than you found it!
However, the proving ourselves and amassing “things,” while milestones in life, are not a measure of a person’s true worth.
Sometimes it is fine to get over it all–accept yourself, be yourself, and stop worrying that you are never good enough.
In the Torah (Bible), when Moshe asked G-d his name–G_d replies in Exodus 3:14: “I am that I am.”
To me, this is really the lesson here–if we but try to emulate G-d, then “we are what we are.”
That is not defeat or giving up on bettering ourselves, but acceptance of who we are, where we came from, and wehre we want to go in our lives.
We don’t have to beat ourselves up for being those things or for making good faith mistakes along the way.