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Thank your lucky stars. But life’s hard! Everything’s relative. But sometimes, you’ve just got to cry before you can move forward! There is a neat little off-the-shelf phrase to send the pendulum of your mood and attitude to life swinging back and forth for ever.
Many philosophical writers would encourage us to pause from time to time when it comes to pondering the finer points of what life’s all about. They’d encourage us to pause to think and focus on what some would consider the more mundane aspects of our life. And they’d encourage us to be grateful for them. The easy things. The obvious thing. The everyday things. Well, for many, some of the more mundane and taken for granted aspects of your life are neither present, easy or obvious. Here are six things in your life that might ordinarily go unnoticed to you, or framed as negative by you. But, in actual fact, they really are – albeit cunningly disguised – reasons to be cheerful. Here are six.
This is a feeling to be grateful for. It means you are, somewhere, somehow, thinking about growth. It means you are self-aware and that you are probably tuning into some of the more practical things in your life that are missing. Things you want and don’t yet have. Things you want to do but have not yet done. This kind of thinking is clear evidence that you are not a settler. You want more from life. And that’s a good thing.
You paid £14 for a cocktail. You paid £4 for a niche chocolate bar that you had never seen before and ate in 30 seconds. You bought a seasonal £5 calorific coffee that left you feeling a little bit sick. You paid £100 for a tee-shirt that, at a practical level, does what a £10 tee-shirt does (but the way it makes you feel… wow!)
The reason that buying stupid things is a great thing to do from time to time is simply because you can. You bought the stupid thing and – somehow – you also paid your rent. You also kept your car on the road, fed yourself and others, bought a coffee for a friend and lit and heated your home. Impressive!
You’re not sure exactly how you did all that of course. But yet again – you did!
There is a difference between what a friend is, and what a friend is for. If all we think about is what a friend is, we can count someone we’ve never even met, if we like. Someone that once met my friend Mary on Facebook. Someone that Mary then introduced to me me online. And I clicked them. Yep; that’s a ‘friend’.
But what is that kind of a friend actually for? What is the point of the kind of friend that is defined by nothing more than a six letter label – ‘friend’. They’re not actually ‘for’ anything. Except vanity maybe. You can’t be anything to them. And they can’t be anything to you. And that’s just silly.
What an actual friend is for – is this. They make you feel heard, that you matter, and that you are enough. And you make them feel that way too. So yes, just one or two of that kind of friend is plenty.
As time passes, you face an ever-increasing number of challenges, hurdles, and barriers. Challenges that test you. Hurdles that make you think. Barriers that may stop you dead in your tracks. Barriers that may in fact divert you onto a completely new path, because there’s just no way of progressing any further on the path you’re on right now. And all of that just keeps on coming. Ever more challenges. Ever more hurdles. Ever more barriers.
Not much gets easier in life. That’s the truth. But there’s a parallel truth that we need to also remember. And that’s the fact that whilst not much gets easier, we’re constantly getting smarter. The further we go, the same challenge that once frightened the life out of us becomes a mere distraction. The hurdle that once brought us to our knees, with our new-found experience and confidence is – with a little effort – easier to get over. And the barriers that once broke us morph to become valuable signs that point us to clearer, more easily navigable journeys.
Not much gets easier. And that’s fine. Because you get smarter.
There are these little places, spaces and moments in life that make us feel most at ease. They may seem quite boring on the face of it. But they actually make life very special.
That table at that coffee shop. Your own lounge, by the books. That seat in your own lounge by the books. That stool and that beer and that view at that bar. Your desk at work. That place in the corner of the lunchroom at work where you always sit and read and peep over the top of your book when you think that nobody is looking. That same newsagent you always buy that same newspaper from at the same time each Saturday. The right-hand side of the train you take to work, facing front. The place you stand and stare, by the river near your house as you take a Sunday morning stroll. The tree you wander slowly towards, and brush your open hand slowly against, as you and your dog leave it silently behind on your before-work morning walks.
These are the places, spaces and moments that you alone created and that you gravitate towards. Oftentimes, as insignificant as they may seem, you may even crave them. These are the quirky, ‘you’ places, spaces and moments. It's here where the handle on your mug always faces right. Where three red pens lie side-by-side. Where freshly ground coffee beans are never, ever scalded with just-boiled water, they are - instead - gently warmed with water that boiled 30 to 60 seconds ago. It's here you get the very best view of the church you always thought you'd get married in, as your train passes it at 8.17am every morning. And where you are comforted by seeing the same smiling face restocking the same shop window with the same dresses at the same time each Saturday morning.
Celebrating the weirdly mundane and the mundanely weird in your life really is a celebration. Because these things are not just anybody’s weird. They’re your weird. And it is so brilliant that you are here to experience them. Because when you are no longer here. These are some of the things that will echo strongest. And be remembered most. By the people you leave behind. Because these are the weird little things that make you... you.
…And you’re still here. That’s amazing! It means that you have the opportunity to compare the challenges you are facing right now, or that you can see on the horizon, with the ones that you already overcame. It is almost always the case that the challenges you overcame in the past, those terrible things you’ve been through, they will have felt unsurmountable at the time. Yet somehow, you got through them. Maybe even that little bit stronger. Somehow, you’re still here.