The Small Things

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things

Kurt Vonnegut

We live in an age of opportunity, and it’s exciting. Anything is possible if you are prepared to put in the time and effort required to succeed. There is, however, the very real danger of getting so completely consumed by the pursuit of your goals, that you forget to live your life too.

As with anything in life, there needs to be a balance. In this instance, you need to find a balance between your personal and professional development, and everything else that’s important in your life. Focus too much on your journey, and you risk causing irreparable damage to your personal relationships and health.

One thing which always struck me as a teacher, was how children take time to pay attention to the world around them. They touch, smell and explore everything. They ask questions so that they can better understand the environment in which they find themselves. And it makes them happy. Somewhere along the line, however, education conditions this curiosity out of them and they are taught instead to develop tunnel vision, only focusing on that which is in front of them. Herein lies the problem.

Developing a laser-like focus will help you to become disciplined and successful in whatever you choose, but it also robs you of so much of life’s beauty. We only have so much time and energy to give each day, and focusing it all in one area, means that other aspects of your life get neglected.

Of course, you may well achieve the status and level of wealth which you crave, but you face losing precious time which could be better spent with friends and family. Life can be cruel, and we have no idea how much time we have with those closest to us. Ask yourself, is that which you chase more important than spending time with your loved ones? Is it more important than your physical and mental health?

If you don’t spend time with those you love, you will regret it if tragedy strikes and they are no longer there. You will remember the times when you chose your goals and work over spending time with them, and this hurts because it was avoidable but now there is nothing you can do to put it right. Neglect your partner and they might end your relationship because they refuse to play second-best to your dreams any longer. Again this is pain which is avoidable. Is money and status really more important than the people who you claim to love? If not, then prove to them that you love them by giving them your time and attention. All of it. Put your phone away and be with them.

Do you take time to sit in the garden, smelling the flowers and listening to the birds? Do you listen to your body, and pay attention to your activity levels and what you eat and drink? Or is your mental and physical health less important than whatever goal you are currently working towards?

Time is precious and once it is gone, it is completely gone. So, it’s best to use it wisely. There are enough hours in the day that you can work towards your goals AND take time to smell the roses or spend quality time with loved ones. Of course, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but at the end of your days would you not rather look back on a fulfilled and happy life? This is surely better than the alternative, full of loneliness, ill health and a trail of broken relationships.

The choice is yours, so choose wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Cheating Yourself

Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.

Aldous Huxley

Everyone has a good idea or a dream as to the kind of life they want for themselves. The majority of us are wise enough to know that simply desiring something is not enough and that we actually have to work for it. So, we make plans, set small goals and tell ourselves that we will be embarking on a journey of discovery and personal development soon.

We start. It goes well. Very well. The results are evident, our motivation levels are sky-high and we are full of a newfound sense of accomplishment. Then either our progress slows down, or we hit a roadblock. This is natural and only to be expected. It is, however, the way in which people react to this inconvenience that determines whether they will be ultimately successful in the pursuit of our goals. We have all at some stage given in to temptation and cheated on our diet with some fast food. Many of us have missed a workout and spent the day instead in our pyjamas watching movies on Netflix. Your progress has slowed, and you’ve sinned for a day. Now what?! Successful people pick themselves back up  and get back on track. The rest of us, we lie to ourselves and cheat ourselves. We tell ourselves that we will start again when the time is right;

January 1st…Tomorrow…Monday…Next month..

We convince ourselves that we have the best of intentions and we want this. We really want this. We really, really,  really want this but before we start, we just have to prepare ourselves mentally to pursue our goals once more. All we are doing, however, is lying to ourselves. When you are putting the pursuit of your goals off to a later date, you are cheating yourself and selling yourself short. Why not now? Why not put down the tv remote and take a step, no matter how small, that will get you closer to your goals?!

There is a deeper threat here than merely falling short of your potential. Lying to yourself and cheating yourself can have serious implications for your mental health. This is not scaremongering, but something I have been through myself and finally come out the other side, wiser for the experience.

When you lie to yourself, cheat yourself and sell yourself short it is only yourself who you are hurting. Over time, your self-belief and self-confidence erode and you start to lose faith in yourself. You doubt yourself capable of carrying out even the most simple of tasks. This leads to frustration, anger and, potentially, depression. Worse still, when lying to yourself becomes acceptable you become more likely to lie to others too. And nobody likes a liar or an unmotivated, undisciplined layabout.

The best way to prevent the above? Make today the day you start, or re-start, chasing your goals.

Make today the day that the lying stops

Make today the day that you stop giving in and giving up without at least putting up a good fight

Make today the day that you take steps to build your confidence and self-belief, rather than damage them both.

Draw a line under what has gone before, and start afresh. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and misjudgements. Learn from them and move on. When you do this, today‘s date will forever be etched into your memory as the day when everything changed.

We strive and fight hard to keep our promises to others, and maintain our integrity. It’s time now that we keep our promises to ourselves. NO. MATTER. WHAT.

A Poison Tree (William Blake)

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

A Character (William Wordsworth)

I marvel how Nature could ever find space
For so many strange contrasts in one human face:
There’s thought and no thought, and there’s paleness and bloom
And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.

There’s weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;
Such strength as, if ever affliction and pain
Could pierce through a temper that’s soft to disease,
Would be rational peace–a philosopher’s ease.

There’s indifference, alike when he fails or succeeds,
And attention full ten times as much as there needs;
Pride where there’s no envy, there’s so much of joy;
And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy.

There’s freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare
Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she’s there,
There’s virtue, the title it surely may claim,
Yet wants heaven knows what to be worthy the name.

This picture from nature may seem to depart,
Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;
And I for five centuries right gladly would be
Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he.

Ode To Beauty (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Who gave thee, O Beauty!
The keys of this breast,
Too credulous lover
Of blest and unblest?
Say when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old;
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain
False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born we are melting
Into nature again.
Lavish, lavish promiser,
Nigh persuading gods to err,
Guest of million painted forms
Which in turn thy glory warms,
The frailest leaf, the mossy bark,
The acorn’s cup, the raindrop’s arc,
The swinging spider’s silver line,
The ruby of the drop of wine,
The shining pebble of the pond,
Thou inscribest with a bond
In thy momentary play
Would bankrupt Nature to repay.

Ah! what avails it
To hide or to shun
Whom the Infinite One
Hath granted his throne?
The heaven high over
Is the deep’s lover,
The sun and sea
Informed by thee,
Before me run,
And draw me on,
Yet fly me still,
As Fate refuses
To me the heart Fate for me chooses,
Is it that my opulent soul
Was mingled from the generous whole,
Sea valleys and the deep of skies
Furnished several supplies,
And the sands whereof I’m made
Draw me to them self-betrayed?
I turn the proud portfolios
Which hold the grand designs
Of Salvator, of Guercino,
And Piranesi’s lines.
I hear the lofty Pæans
Of the masters of the shell,
Who heard the starry music,
And recount the numbers well:
Olympian bards who sung
Divine Ideas below,
Which always find us young,
And always keep us so.
Oft in streets or humblest places
I detect far wandered graces,
Which from Eden wide astray
In lowly homes have lost their way.

Thee gliding through the sea of form,
Like the lightning through the storm,
Somewhat not to be possessed,
Somewhat not to be caressed,
No feet so fleet could ever find,
No perfect form could ever bind.
Thou eternal fugitive
Hovering over all that live,
Quick and skilful to inspire
Sweet extravagant desire,
Starry space and lily bell
Filling with thy roseate smell,
Wilt not give the lips to taste
Of the nectar which thou hast.

All that’s good and great with thee
Stands in deep conspiracy.
Thou hast bribed the dark and lonely
To report thy features only,
And the cold and purple morning
Itself with thoughts of thee adorning,
The leafy dell, the city mart,
Equal trophies of thine art,
E’en the flowing azure air
Thou hast touched for my despair,
And if I languish into dreams,
Again I meet the ardent beams.
Queen of things! I dare not die
In Being’s deeps past ear and eye,
Lest there I find the same deceiver,
And be the sport of Fate forever.
Dread power, but dear! if God thou be,
Unmake me quite, or give thyself to me

Pull A String, A Puppet Moves (Charles Bukowski)

each man must realize
that it can all disappear very
quickly:
the cat, the woman, the job,
the front tire,
the bed, the walls, the
room; all our necessities
including love,
rest on foundations of sand –
and any given cause,
no matter how unrelated:
the death of a boy in Hong Kong
or a blizzard in Omaha …
can serve as your undoing.
all your chinaware crashing to the
kitchen floor, your girl will enter
and you’ll be standing, drunk,
in the center of it and she’ll ask:
my god, what’s the matter?
and you’ll answer: I don’t know,
I don’t know …