Its been a long time since I wrote, I guess I just needed time to re-process things and hopefully understand the things before me.
Life can be complicated but sometimes it can be blissfully simple. In the period I took to step away I discovered that reflection and meditation on circumstances is no longer a luxury afforded by only the wise but now a necessity of every man.
I have had time to think about family, love, wealth (money), work and religion. The more I searched, the more answers I felt I got yet in those answers new question arose. This made me come to the inevitable conclusion that no matter how much value we place on the things around us a few things come on top as priceless.
Yet, in all I see three main things a person cannot or maybe I should say, should not do without.
1) A Sense of Direction, Ownership and Belonging (D.O.B): Similar to the blessed trinity the most important thing comes in three.
A) A sense of Direction: I used to dream about days when I would wake up and not have a single thing to do or place to go. I don’t know if you were/are like me and dreamt about winning a massive lottery.
It was the best of my dreams and then one day it happened. I had taken a 6 month leave from work (lots of reasons why which I won’t go into details about) I woke up with nowhere to go and to be honest it felt great for the first few days, I stayed home, looked after the kids, did the laundry and dishes, made meals. It was amazing and then the days turned into weeks and then months. I am not saying it was all bad as I had the option to go back to work earlier if I wanted. What I am saying is that a taste of this allowed me a unique learning experience. There is no life without purpose.
I am not saying that your purpose should be work, all I am saying is that at least when I woke up every day I knew exactly what was needed of me and weekend rests felt better because they felt earned. I am convinced that a sense of direction is vital but even more so that it is only a third of a perfect piece.
B) A Sense of Ownership: This is the second piece of the puzzle. When I was home I realised that even when I was at work I did not exactly feel accomplished. I felt like I had failed to some degree. Did I hate my job? Not at all, I loved it. I loved meeting new people every month. I knew almost everyone. I was respected by my colleagues, delegates and superiors.
Yet something was missing. I realised that what was simply missing was that it wasn’t mine. It was a good job, not the best pay but good enough but it wasn’t my company. I felt no responsibility for the job. This allowed me come to the conclusion that responsibility is also a good this and it brings with it ownership.
What am I saying here? I am simply stating the obvious, My family (son, daughter and wife) are my responsibility and because of that simple irrefutable fact I know exactly what they need from me (doesn’t mean I always do it though). There is ownership in the family unity and this allowed me to enjoy the challenges that come with it. I relish the challenges and pray I am up to them but they are no longer negative. A sense of ownership is very important but even with direction and ownership there is still something missing.
C) A Sense of Belonging: I am not sure you even need me to explain why this is even important but I will all the same. Have you ever thought about the tragedy of abandonment and the evils that sometimes come from people that have suffered isolation and abandonment? Or ever thought about radicals or gangs? What makes people give up their lives for a belief? What makes life and family mean so little in comparison? It is a sense of belonging. It is such a powerful motivator than it leads people to abandon everything they see and know and in extreme circumstances to abandon morality. A sense of belonging can also be used in a positive way. An example that comes to mind is missionaries delivering food, help, health aid and charities with international reach. At this point I feel that I would be writing an irresponsible post if I do not interject and state that a sense of belonging does not in any way mean an abandonment of your own desires or who you are.
As a matter of fact I believe that they go hand in hand. A quote that comes to mind that explains it perfectly is by Brene Brown;
“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
She also goes on to echo my discovery when she states “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick”.
For anyone that has never heard of her, she is worth researching. My sense of belonging comes from more than just myself. I belong to my family as much as they belong to me. I belong to my friends and I belong to this world. I am responsible for how I leave this world when my time is up (no matter what day that happens).
You see, in order to fully appreciate a sense of direction you must see it in connection to ownership and belonging and then and only then do you see the full picture of why they are important as individuals yet part of a family.
2) Love: I am glad I discovered this well into the early years of marriage. The love of a wife can be a bedrock. Before I could really understand this I first of all had to understand that I am not perfect in anyway. The fact I have love does not mean I will not abuse it or take it for granted and this only helps to make me take a step back and see how lucky I am. When I talk about love here, I am in no way talking about love from Hollywood movies or from romantic books.
I am talking about love where you are hurt but still don’t want to leave. The kind you are afraid to lose and it keeps you working on yourself to become better. I am talking about the kind you know and you feel as real as your own hands. I won’t bore you by telling you all the details of how I came to this conclusion all I will say is whoever you have let them know. If you can’t say it , then write it. If you can’t write it then sing it, if you can’t sing it ask someone to help but don’t stay silent. Love breeds love. Can you imagine a faith worse than loving with nobody to love? If you are lucky enough to have someone to love and someone that loves you back then they deserve to know. Love forgives, love cares, love appreciates, love grows, love never dies, love never looks back but love also needs love to burn brightest.
3) Attitude: I guess this might come as a surprise to some, as attitude is very often not discussed as an important part of a purposeful life. Attitude is simply a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Why is this important? I guess it is simply because we are all a victim or product of our perceptions. We react to the world based on the way we see the world. Our attitude is governed by it. Yet we very often forget that though we may not have the best of everything or anything. We have a choice on how to behave. My friends please don’t kid yourselves the way I have always done. We have a choice in every situation. We have a choice on how to react when we get fired, when our partner leaves us, when we fail to get what we want, when someone cuts in front of us (we all know how irritating that can sometimes be). We can “chose” to rise above it or chose to dwell on it. Our attitude is our choice and ours alone. We are not even victims of our biological urges as most people like to believe. We own our attitude, we own our choices, we own it and must take responsibility for it.
Now the best part about attitude is that even if you have a poor attitude, this can be fixed. It is not something you were born with. It is something you develop. A very useful strategy to develop is “looking at the bigger picture”.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
― Walt Whitman
A few examples might help. When I was 8 years old, I fell “in love” (as much as a child can) for the first time. I was totally crazy for a girl I met in school. I felt that this was the single most important thing in the world to me. I never told anyone about it but to me, she was everything. In that moment at that time I felt like if I did not get her then “life was not worth living”.
I don’t think she ever knew who I was or how I ever felt. Now, over 20 years after and it makes no difference what I felt then. It has no impact on my life and thankfully I am still here. Now before you disregard this and call it “puppy love” please note that this was very real to me. If a person perceives something as real then it will always be in your best interest to treat it as such (regardless of your own personal inclinations). I was just as hurt then as I would be now.
Another example is one that is very personal to me. Almost a decade ago (during my freshman year) I met a lovely lady who turned out to be a very good friend. She made my first year at university that much easier. She was nice and though we never had romantic feelings for each other she was as good a friend as I could ever ask for. About 3 years ago she unfortunately took her own life. It looks for all indications to be as a result of lost love. I was so devastated by this because we had not been in touch for over 2 years and I just wished I could have offered her what she offered me when I needed it. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain her family is going through even till date. She really was a saint yet in a similar situation she just could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot blame her ex-boyfriend as he has a right to pick who he wants to be with. He has a right to choice.
In the present world of social media it is quite easy to develop a negative attitude, especially when one looks at what “the rest of the world” seems to be doing.
A few realistic steps might help
1) Be careful when developing your attitude and never compare yourself to anyone. What a tragedy it will be if we ever forget the thing that makes us uniquely us. Our experience are uniquely ours and what makes us beautiful and stronger ( A treasure chest of wisdom).
2) Whatever people say is simply their opinion. They are entitled to it but it does not mean you have to take it (obviously I still recommend listening to good counsel). No one can make you feel inferior without your consent so stand firm on who you are.
3) Smile and do what makes you happy as long as it isn’t harmful to yourself or others. We still have a responsibility to others so one unfortunately must reflect on this advice more than all the others. I am in no way asking you to stay with someone you know you do not love at all for fear of breaking their heart. I am simply saying pleasure must be enjoyed with caution.
4) Ignore people who simply tell you that you cannot do it and never offer advice as to how to overcome a problem. What good is it telling someone of a problem if it is not backed with a solution? You need positive people around you especially because there will come a day that you might lose belief in yourself. You will need someone who helps you see it.
5) Enjoy yourself in everything. Enjoy the unexpected or result that were not what you expected. Many people have discovered great things in error. A positive attitude will help you see through it all.
6)Have a positive vision and be happy for other peoples success. I know it might be hard to be happy for your ex when they find someone else they love but try to understand that true love involves being happy for someone else even if they are not with you.
7) Finally, always be true to yourself. Not who you think you are or what you would like to be but who you really are (strengths and weaknesses). Never beat yourself down and never compromise or search for dodgy shortcuts. Work smart and not harder but always know who you are what you stand for lest you fall for anything.
Your attitude to success will ultimately be the thing you rely on when things go wrong. When (and not if) problems come along the way. A positive attitude will keep you focussed and goal oriented. It will give you power over your circumstances. No matter what you face in life always look at the bigger picture. Are you worrying about work? Well, If you got fired today, your company will be fine as there are several hundreds to do your job (so take a break and enjoy life). Your life has been lived many times before you by many others before you (so enjoy the ride and love the people around you while you still can). There will always be wealth on earth (so try not to spend your entire life looking for it). In work, in family in life, always give more than you expect to receive in return. These my friends is how we find real purpose in life.
“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
– C. JoyBell C.
If you have any more suggestions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
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