I came across this quote by Regina Brett over the weekend “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
The tendency with holidays (or weekends for that matter) is that we veg. We drink just enough coffee to make it to the couch and then surf – channels. We are a victim to our OWN free time. Why is this?
Maybe we are actually a victim to our non-free time. Those five days between weekends. We feel powerless to affect the outcome of our day. We tend to float along for 9h on a stream of our master’s tide. Not caring to change much, watching minutes tick by until we are free. But strangely the cycle continues. We drown our sorrows in craft beverage and then deal with the hang over the next day with a cup of the black stuff. (Please can you add enough sugar and milk to make this lifestyle palatable?) How can we call this living?
The truth is that in the 9X5 cycle we are training ourselves to be victims. Victims to the man (whoever that is in your life, whoever you make him to be)
What if I did more than just show up?
How is that even possible?
Every morning I have a choice. I have a choice to wake up or call in sick. Yes both have consequences. Maybe I can choose my consequence? I have a choice in what breakfast I eat. I have a choice to make between instant gratification and future health. Either which way I have a choice. I choose to wear an ironed shirt. This is not expected or even suggested in an industry which revers “lifestyle” but I make that choice. I choose to dress up. Every single day. I choose how I want to shape my day. I am making a habit. I don’t get it right all the time but at least I try.
Having made that choice I show up. The choice to get up and create my day. Sometimes it is as small as being positive, other days I have grander plans. At least I have a plan.
Where in your life are you a victim?
Where in your life do you choose?
Carols and various other hymns are well on their way to getting us in the mood. Christmas is only a few weeks away and we are all in dread.
So why is that?
Why is this time of cheer so stressful for most of us?
Most office parties are a time of too much booze, getting too cozy with the secretary and laughing at the bosses bad jokes. But that is just the overture for the main course come end December.
Well the aunt with the hairy chin is waiting for her kiss (it seems like she has been waiting 11 months already). We have to spend money on silly Secret Santa for people we don’t see for another year. We hang out with long lost family who we don’t actually like all that much. I wonder if the feeling is mutual.
We eat and drink way over our limit.
And on top of it all we should be joyful throughout this whole ordeal.
No wonder this all takes its toll on us and we suffer this hangover in Jan. Financially, physically and emotionally.
So what is happening that this time of joy is often a time of great stress?
We fall prey to group pressure to act outside of what is true to us. This pressure is huge, supported by family, religion, friends and the Jones’s. Then if we have kids we they are targeted by big business through advertising which has been building for months.
So what to do?
Christmas is not all bad and some traditions can be good fun (as they should be). My point is we can’t blame anybody but ourselves if we feel out of sorts during this time.
We need a really good understanding of what works for us. What our boundaries are. Sure some of our boundaries can be flexible during this time but unless we have a good idea of what they are we then don’t know which ones we can be flexible with and which ones not.
For example if drink does not make me feel so good I have the choice. Drinking ‘just one beer’ often leads to consuming more. Knowing this and knowing what works allows us to choose for ourselves what we want. We can then either drink that one beer and run the risk of sliding into more or to bring our own bottle of sparkly juice to that family braai. That is your choice. Each choice has a consequence but at least by making a choice you can choose the outcome. This does require active engagement though. And that is what most of us lack. We think we can just float along and be happy. Sorry to burst your bubble. Happiness requires active engagement with our lives and that takes work.
The other problem is that so many things are unspoken and left unspoken around this time of year.
“Last year we had Christmas with his parents, this year it has to be with mine” is just one example.
Rather than leave these traditions unspoken and for everybody to make their assumptions around them: put them out in the open.
If we say how it is for us we allow others to hear us. Maybe just maybe they have the same opinion around some silly traditions.
So where do I start?
Feelings and emotions are a good start. If something gives you a funny feeling in your stomach then that is a good indicator. Just like an indicator in the car, it gives you some good ideas as to something going on. It maybe should give you an indication as to a recommended change of direction. Maybe, just maybe we should pay attention to those indicators and actively engage in our lives.
And here’s to a merry festive season!
We were made to walk up stairs the other day. First one step at a time then back down. Then two steps at a time, back down. All in a long snake we walked, round and round. Some of us managed four, some had to grab onto the hand rail to manage, others gave up… I happen to have long legs so I managed 5 steps at a time, just. (I am not saying this to brag just that in this particular situation I have an advantage.)
Now I am not sure if I hurt my hip…
That there is gradient at its finest.
We all want to grow and improve (for the sake of this argument let’s call taking more steps improvement).
The thinking goes that if we are not improving then we are going backwards. Mainly because the world is growing around us so we need to do something to keep up. (Humor me for a moment here.)
Compared to whom?
We all run races, get marks at school, compare salary packages and compare cars. The problem with races is that ultimately there can only be one winner and by extension everybody else is a loser. OK marketing has sold us that you too can be a winner “in your age group” or that 50% is still a pass. But ultimately we are comparing ourselves to the dude who gets 7 A’s. (Is that even still the benchmark?)
The problem is if we try to improve purely on sporting times and positions we ultimately are forced to accept that unless we win, we lose. So winning becomes everything and inevitably we end up with a sport full of cheats from the top down. And not many nice people left.
So what does this #winning mean to you?
At the end of last year I did a race series of 6 events. I slowly refined my strategy and technique every week. I mostly lead from the gun (or tried to) and then would get dropped in the last third. This was the fourth race. I was right on target, my target. 500m to go and I was still in the lead. It was working. I was in the zone. I was winning. Then he came past me. My parachute opened and I was done. That Friday afternoon I did the best I could and still got beaten by another athlete. I hope he heard me congratulate him as he disappeared into the distance. I never went back to toe the line. I had been in the zone very briefly but that was enough, in fact I think I had my perfect race and I was super happy with that. I did not hit my target time either but all I had was that feeling and that was enough for me.
Even if I broke the tape I would probably not have a better race so I stopped.
Few understand why I have not been back.
For me it is on to new horizons and hopefully onto new learning.
We forget to compare ourselves only to our former selves and get caught up in trying to outdo our neighbours and not improve. The problem then is that we lose ourselves in other’s agendas.
I am not immune to this and I catch myself trying to keep up with the Jones’ on a daily basis.
The real trick is to work out who I am, where I am and then plot my trajectory from there.
I encourage you to do the same!