Last week my most excellent Straight and Curly co-host Carly wrote a post with the same title as this one you’re reading here. Such a cool idea and, also, quite good timing. You see, there’s been a bit going on in my world since the start of last year and, till now, I haven’t felt able to share about it.
Well, as much as I admire people who are able to share about difficult times while they are in the midst of them, it’s something I find hard to do. Not because I like to pretend my life is always bright and shiny. Far from it. It’s mostly because I don’t like talking about stuff I’ve not processed yet. And I can’t process things when I’m right in the middle of them.
Anyway, I don’t know if it’s a bit of a false dawn, but after a 20-month period where the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of my life has been very challenging and stressful, I finally feel like I can breathe again.
The short story, (because the long story is boooooooring), is that after this happened, business life got to being very much ‘one thing after another’. Just as we’d catch our breath from a major challenge, another would occur. When you add in the normal challenges of everyday life, the financial and mental stresses that go with building a house, plus a couple of health scares … well, all I can say is ‘thank you’ to the universe for the fact that anxiety medication exists.
Interestingly, however, despite all that stress, uncertainty and anxiety, I’m not currently looking back on the past months with resentment or anger. And there is one big reason for that: I changed how I thought about ‘bad stuff’.
In the past, I believed if you worked hard and were a good person, then good things should happen to you.
So, when good things happened to me, I totally took them for granted. They were my due.
The bad things that happened? I dropped into a victim mentality; one where I would rail against the universe and demand ‘Whyyyyyyy? Why is this happening to me?’.
Then, somewhere along the way I realised these two things:
1. Shit happens
There’s no reason for it. It’s not the universe (or God, or whoever) deciding you need a life lesson. Yes, we are capable of bringing stuff on ourselves. But, for the most part, challenges will arise of their own accord. Roadblocks will get thrown in our way. Tragic stuff will occur. Some people will get more than their ‘fair’ share, some will get less. There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason for any of it.
2. A happy, content life is not one where everything runs smoothly and nothing bad ever happens
For years I believed I could control life into some kind of benign ‘flatline’ state. I was quite willing to sacrifice the highest of highs in order to avoid the lowest of lows. But, no matter how hard I tried or how much of a control freak I was, I just didn’t seem to be able to avoid the ‘bad’ stuff. For years I took this to mean I wasn’t trying hard enough or being a good enough person. Now I know that a happy, content life isn’t one where nothing bad ever happens (because this skates very close to expecting life to be ‘perfect’ which, as we all know, is unrealistic). No, a happy, content life is actually one where we have the emotional resilience and fortitude to face challenges head on whilst also having enough awareness to be absurdly grateful for the good stuff.
Happily, that’s where I find myself today. Absurdly grateful for the good stuff in my life right now. And there is plenty of it.
All of this has combined to gift me the most terrifying feeling of all: joy.
Why is joy terrifying?
“How many of you have ever sat up and thought, ‘Wow, work’s going good, good relationship with my partner, parents seem to be doing okay. Holy crap. Something bad’s going to happen’? … You know what that is? [It’s] when we lose our tolerance for vulnerability. Joy becomes foreboding: ‘I’m scared it’s going to be taken away …’ What we do in moments of joyfulness is, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”
In what I think is a good sign that I’ve ‘come a long way’, I’m currently resisting that urge to beat vulnerability to the punch. (Case in point: I’m writing this post. If that isn’t inviting the universe to deliver a kick in the guts, I don’t know what is!)
Instead, I’m just sitting here enjoying the joy and not overthinking things too much.
It’s only take 39 years to get to this place but I can tell you with certainty, it’s a very nice place to be. And I know it’s going to stand me in good stead for the future, no matter what the future holds.
Anyway, that’s enough about me! I want to hear more about YOU now.
This blog is going to experience a tiny little course correction in coming months and before I get deep into that, I want to get a better feel for who I’m speaking to. So here’s a little template. I’d love you to cut and paste it into the comments below … and then fill in the blanks. (And thanks again to Carly for the idea!)
My name is ……
I live ……
I’m currently reading ……
And listening to ……
I wish ……
I can’t wait until ……
I’ve been reading Kelly’s blog for ……….. days/months/years
I look forward to hearing from you!