Our days are always made up of highs and lows and in-betweens. Even if you are an optimistic and positive person, you still experience failure, setbacks, hardships and times where you JUST have to push through (like waiting for your number to get called out at The Department of Main Roads) (always take a book) (… and a snack).
WOW thanks for the depressing reminder – Eddie
It’s ironic but if everything was always exciting and fun, turns out it would be boring because we would have nothing to compare it against.
It isn't until we experience the contrast of something that we can fully be present and enjoy the moment. Like working really hard for something and enjoying your holiday away or that first shower back after a long camping trip (a long camping trip is 2 days for me).
Contrast is a form of gratitude with perspective.
It is a huge factor in how we show up for the day and a new form of wisdom and insight.
I'll tell you a story about how I discovered contrast and how it has affected my journey going forward. I was offered a very convenient teaching job down the road from where I live. Considering I live right by the beach, one would say it was the ultimate dream.
Nevertheless, seeing as I have always loved to make my life difficult for myself, I decided to turn it down and take a job that would take me an hour and a half to drive to each way.
My heart has always been in Steiner education because I am incredibly curious about how we can educate children towards a better future. I wasn't willing to take convenience over curiosity.
Some would say I was being plain … stupid, however; I intended to investigate my love for Steiner education and I knew that if I picked the easier option, I would have had regrets. These regrets would have interfered with my mindset and attitude when beginning the more convenient job. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed a lesson on contrast.
Sometimes I do forget, that I am still young but as my mother reminded me the other day, I am not getting any younger (thanks mum). The reason I want to whirl this statement in is that I am at a point in my life where I could settle down, and have a secure teaching and youth mentoring job. But in order for this process to be timed well, I needed to explore all of my 'what if's.’
While I was teaching full time, I still had a long list of 'what if's’ that interfered with how I was being present in the classroom.
For almost a year now, I have been exploring all of my ‘what if's’ and at times it has been challenging but more importantly it has been exciting and refreshing.
What are some of your what if's?
I think 26 is an interesting age because one minute you want to settle down and act like a 30-year-old and then another minute, you’re like I NEED TO DO THIS, THIS AND THIS before THIS, THIS and THIS.
If you aren't present in your job or life because you have a long list of ‘what-ifs,’ I suggest you go out and explore some of those questions that haunt your mind because the lesson this exploration process teaches you, equals contentment in the future. I do believe that this is where mid-life crises stem from. Sweeping your curiosity and ‘what ifs’ under the carpet may have you feeling as though the grass is always greener on the other side.
Unfortunately, these questions stick around in our subconscious and have funny ways of showing up. It is unfamiliarity and the inability to explore these questions that end up haunting us in the present and our future.
It turns out that the drive was unsustainable and totally ridiculous. I started to become more aware of my need to make time for things that fill my cup up throughout the day. I love surfing (love would be an understatement), exercising, painting and yoga. I am becoming more sensible about how I want to spend my time outside of teaching and youth mentoring. Spending 3 hours in the car (15 hours a week) + leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark was something that I wasn't willing to compromise. This added baggage squashed curiosity rather quickly and I soon realised the value of convenience and time (even though like always, my mother could have told me that).
Despite having the thought of, 'I should have taken the other job' a few times, I feel blessed to go forward into a new role in the future and not have to ask the questions of 'what if’ or feel guilty because I chose convenience over curiosity as my curiosity has now been given insight.
Exploring ‘what if’s’ is a great way to embark on new adventures and journeys without focusing on the past or future. It allows you to be present and satisfied with what you have, where you are and in turn avoid any regrets in the future.
This contrast I now have has given me incredible insight and perspective when entering a more 'convenient' job in the future. You can't put a price on that.
Before I let you go off and write down some of your ‘what if's' that you want to explore may I just touch on my depressing opening statement. Even if you have your ‘dream job, dream partner, dream house and dream pet turtle, there will always be moments of ups, downs and in-betweens. Sometimes things are BORING, sometimes things are pretty painful to do, sometimes we experience grief and sometimes we feel really flat.
From conversations that I have had with children in the upper years, there is an understanding that there is 'happy' and there is 'depressed.' When we fail to understand that life has so many in-between emotions and moments that lay on the spectrum between happy and depressed, we are setting ourselves up for consistent disappointment.
When things are really hard, stressful, boring or emotional for me, it is comforting to know that it won’t take long until it is over and I can look back on it with gratification (or with a cup of tea). What is holding you back from feeling fulfilled and content? Sometimes we need to go off and explore what the grass is like on the other side, to help us answer some of the questions that keep haunting us. I use to think that contentment in life referred to complacency but I have now realised that contentment is gratitude with perspective.
Contentment is being a glass half full rather than a glass half empty kind of person and that’s the kind of mindset that happy people have. Contentment is a key contributor to having a positive mindset, clear head and ultimately long-lasting happiness. However, for one to experience contentment sometimes they need to explore their ‘what if's.'
Off you go!