Hope Is A Cure For Violence
I'm going to start adding quotes that I like and maybe have nothing to do with anything I'm about to say. Just because. I have a whole document of quotes I love and can't always find ways to apply them. Today's quote because Jared Leto made a much more beautiful woman than I (that bone structure, tho): "God sure was dressin' the wrong doll when he blessed you with a set'o'balls."
OK, so, I just sat down at a coffee shop on the lake after encountering the most pleasant of dudes at the counter. It's not often such handsome people are also so, so pleasant while doing their jobs. I love people who have managed to be happy enough to be kind to those around them. When someone isn't kind, just remember, they're not happy and maybe they have no one to remind them of why or how they could fix that. Access that compassion, y'all. Don't let 'em get you down. Their level of consciousness is just not where yours may be and the world needs so.much.more.empathy. How creepy would the world be if everyone was smiling all the time, though? SHUDDER. I digress . . .
Or, wait, no I don't. That's my whole topic today. I have had a short fuse lately because I have been living with a lot of frustration. I am lucky to have a baseline happiness that prevents me from being rude to others, but be rude to me today and I will NOT brush it off. No, indeed, I will retaliate with - NO SMILE. HMPH! So change has been coming for a while.
I realized the immediacy of this need three weeks ago. I came back from winter break having been disrespected at work AND sexually harassed there, but then my dog was also dead, so dreading going into work and also dreading going home left me, well, rather depressed. This led me to my tried and true behaviors - why I can trust myself in this life - of figuring out what the problems are and working to solve them. And I am, presently, succeeding in reversing this course of all things sliding into bad time. How? Let me tell you!
- Write and reflect - I don't often know what I REALLY think until I write it out. Last year, this here writing site turned into a personal essay and I've mortifyingly removed all of that. This was never about ME and my personal journaling and I got caught up in my sadness. Writing is curative, though. Every time I wrote, I found clarity. Just. . . sometimes it calls for separate forums! I hope no one here caught my lowest moments while I had them floating out in the cosmic void because we are not our lowest moments, but impressions can last a lifetime. If you did, well, oh well. That's only as meaningful as I make it. SIGH. Anyway, write! You'll understand yourself all of a sudden :)
- Solve the problems - I often get feedback that (HANDSOME BOY WEARING COLOGNE SMELLS DISTRACTINGLY GOOD JUST WALKED BY HELLO OK BACK TO BUSINESS) people admire me because I am strong and positive. Anyone who considers me strong should really know that I am HELLA strugglin' plenty of the time. It's not all positivity. But all I do is keep doing. All it is is not stopping. How can I make this better? It could be my failure to communicate, so tell my boss I'm unhappy. That conversation didn't go well. What now? Well that work environment has been grim for a while. Start applying for jobs. I still miss my dog, though. Grief is not a problem that can be solved. How do I fix that? Have dog visitors and be with friends when loneliness strikes. I have never been one to feel lonely, but man. . . even I underestimated the effect of Rufus in my life. So I go for runs. Drink less when sad. Make self care a daily priority until life gets back to feeling breezy.
Sometimes life is draining and sometimes it feels like life itself fills me up. Understanding that is key to going with the flow. Whatever it feels like, don't resist. Just take care. You can't stop a blizzard, but you can say, "Oh hell no, this is not part of my best life. I'm going into this here spa and getting a massage on a heated table until it stops." Another favorite quote from a TED Talk: "Courage is fear walking." There's always something around the corner if you keep looking ahead.
- Beware complacency - Periods of personal growth are long and difficult. I dragged my feet and cried and lost my appetite and barely kept my head above water. You know what makes me the most mad about it? It's that seeing something about myself more clearly, I came to see that most of the pain points of the last year were brought to light because I have a tendency towards complacency. I will stay in a situation that is not great for me overall because I am able, to a fault, to look at the bright side. Now, I love that 'Always Look on the Bright Side' song, y'all. My band even covered it. But looking at life that way can also be a slippery slope into the isolated basement cage where you've been placed because you're the least likely to complain and, once there, you'll convince yourself it's fine because that's how you enjoy your daily life a little more easily. One shitty thing gets you into this adaptable mindset and then, before you know it, you're choosing other shitty things because 'at least they're better than that first shitty thing.' Complacency brings your average - like - ALL OVER LIFE AVERAGE - down. A lot. And quickly.
- Beware wasted free time - If you do not have hobbies, anxiety will become you. Find things you enjoy and do them instead. Set small goals. Don't say you will play new chords for an hour. Do it for 10 minutes. Give yourself little bits of progress to feel proud of.
- Validation Station - Recognize when you're missing your own sense of self-pride and find it. One indicator that something needs to change for me is, surprise surprise, social media. I enjoy the creativity and connection social media fosters and I'm not sure it deserves the attention-seeking reputation it gets because I post when I have something pretty or funny and I just want the fun of sharing. I know I don't derive confidence from social media because external validation, even the most sincere of compliments, means nothing when I am truly discouraged. In fact, I stop posting when really sad. So, social media is, what, for showing off? I don't know. But when I get no joy from it, I know I don't have much pride in my current circumstances and I have work to do.
- Lean on your cheerleaders - When I feel like that, I am lucky that I have parents and friends who remind me, when I struggle to believe, that I can trust myself - that I might not always be living my best life, but that I am always reliably hovering near what makes me happiest. A pep talk from my parents or closest friends is damn-near curative. We need human connection and I am endlessly lucky for mine.
- Focus on hope - I was listening to a podcast about a company that gives prison inmates a second chance by teaching them to be entrepreneurs and serving as an incubator. The interviewee, Catherine Hoke, said, "Hope is a cure for violence." Personally, this means hope that my best efforts have meaning, even when I know I can do better. Going through the motions, doing the right things . . .it pays off. Just when it feels like you're about to implode, something happens and the doom dissipates.
Empathy and compassion for others begins with having compassion for ourselves. When you're doing your best to live the life you want, you are able to stretch outside yourself and understand why others' unhappiness might affect you. We deserve to be happy! Don't try to mold yourself into a bad job or a bad relationship. Get what you deserve. Live that best life.