Life Is Like A Video Game

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I just read an article that quoted James Galway, a well-known flutist, as saying, “The flute was like a computer game to me – always going to the next stage.”  The first thing that came to mind is how life is like that as well – or at least it should be.  It’s so easy to become stagnant and just keep doing things the same way we always have been, but we really should continuously be pushing ourselves to keep improving and taking things to the next level.

This could mean working hard at perfecting a skill or talent, improving at something like time management or being more organized, or anything that falls under the category of being a better person.  We can all improve at something, probably many things for most people, but everything will not happen overnight.  We may have to keep working at something over and over before we can say we’ve mastered or completed it, and it might even get very frustrating feeling like we’ve been defeated along the way.  But as long as we don’t give up and keep at it, hopefully we reach the end result we were looking for.  And then we can challenge ourselves to do even better, as if advancing to the next level.

One of the things that is addicting about video games is the sense of accomplishment from finally finishing a level.  I just wish that sense of completion would carry over into other aspects of my kids’ lives.  I’m not big into video games, but I think I get that same rush when I can check something off my “to do” list, especially if it is a more time consuming task or one that required a lot of effort.  I don’t get rewarded with money, points, health, power, or bonus lives like I would if I were playing a video game, but I still feel good.

No one enjoys being stuck at a particular level of a game where you just can’t seem to get past a certain point, no matter how hard you try and how many attempts you make.  I don’t particularly like feeling like I am stuck in a situation in real life either, but it happens.  It may take a while, but occasionally when it finally occurs to me to try things differently, something finally gives and then progress can be made.  Sometimes I do feel like I’m going round and round and back and forth as if I am in a Pac Man maze, but at some point I find the power pellets and things start looking up, for a while anyway.

I can’t always control or predict my surroundings, just as in a video game, but that’s what makes life so interesting.  It doesn’t come with hints or cheats to help us out (although that IS kind of the purpose of this blog).  We have to figure it out ourselves, even if it means repeating the same mistakes over and over again or being stuck in the same place for a while.

In one very significant way, I’ve been ready to move to the next level for a while now, but factors beyond my control are holding me back.  I’m slowly but surely getting there though.  A little extra health, power, and money would really help right about now!

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.

Creativity

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Finding ways to express myself creatively is one of those things that helps me feel “emotionally full” or that feeds my soul.  It can be something artistic, some form of writing like these blog posts or poetry, or something involving performing like singing or playing an instrument.  I feel doing something creative helps me shut off the problem-solving, analytical side of my brain and I can focus on how I am feeling. In a way, it can be therapeutic or at least a healthy emotional outlet.  Sometimes it’s just helpful to shut off all thoughts about things that cause me stress while singing along to some favorite songs or drawing a picture.

It does seem to come in waves though.  I have to be in the right mood sometimes, or my brain can’t be too cluttered.  Other times, the mood just hits me or I need to declutter my brain by writing about things to get the thoughts out of my head.  I can’t plan on being creative though, so I’m kind of glad I don’t have a job that requires me to be creative on a regular basis.  I can’t always be creative under pressure.  It is a very fulfilling thing though that feeds on itself.  Sometimes the more creative I am, the more creative I want to be.  I think being able to choose when I want to be creative is key.  I can go with the flow and not have to feel burned out from needing to be creative and can really enjoy how it feels when I am.

One thing I have noticed over the years though is how I tend to gravitate towards people who either really admire and appreciate various forms of creativity or who enjoy expressing themselves creatively somehow.  This could be theater, dance, music, artwork, crafts, building things from scratch, cake decorating, sewing, sports that are more visually creative such as figure skating, cheerleading, and gymnastics, and so many other things.  A while back I got to thinking about why that might be.  I came up with two reasons.

The first is that, in my experience, people who enjoy expressing themselves creatively tend to be better or more willing to express their inner most thoughts and feelings, which I appreciate.  I would rather know where I stand with someone and have them be able to tell me what they are thinking or feeling than have to play guessing games as to what they might be.  So being creative may help somewhat with communication and feeling connected.

The second is that I think certain character traits are necessary to be successful at these various forms of creativity, all of which I believe are good qualities to have. Many of these activities require dedication, perseverance, confidence and courage to get up and perform in front of others, the ability to be vulnerable, a good imagination, and attention to detail.  Some require research and planning and some sort of insight.  I guess my experience has been that if you have these qualities to draw upon to be creative, then usually they carry over into the other aspects of your life.  I’m not saying that if you are not creative that you don’t have any of these qualities, but I do think they often go hand in hand.  And I guess I relate best to people who have these kinds of qualities that I feel are important and that I have as well.

I think making time to be creative is important for many reasons besides ones I’ve mentioned here.  If you’re not typically a creative person, I encourage you to try doing something that would be considered creative and see how it makes you feel.  It can be very freeing and satisfying.  Anyone agree or disagree?

Fear

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It’s amazing how many decisions we make based on fear … fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of getting hurt, fear of hurting or disappointing others, fear of rejection, fear of not being in control, fear of being embarrassed, fear of failure, fear of being all alone, fear of making mistakes or the wrong decisions, and so on.  It can be a very crippling feeling that can affect our home life, our work situations, and our relationships, but it’s one we can overcome when we put our minds to it.

Sometimes we may not even be aware that we have a particular fear or that it is driving our thought process and decisions that we make.  Fear of rejection or getting hurt may cause us to put walls up while in a relationship and lose sight of how we really feel about the other person and how important they are to us, but sometimes love is enough to help us conquer those fears.  Fear of failure may prevent us from trying new things or applying for a job or promotion.  So many other examples come to mind.

It is only when we are forced to think about what is holding us back that we may realize the impact of our fear.  And it’s what we do with that realization that is key. We can continue to let fear limit our enjoyment of life and all that we hope to get out of it, which will inevitably lead to feelings of disappointment, resentment, loneliness, regret, and so on.  Or we can make a conscious choice to try to put fear aside.  It may be scary and uncomfortable and/or give us feelings of anxiety, especially for those of us who have difficulty adapting to change, but keeping the end result in mind often helps. There may be plenty of hurdles to overcome, but that’s where confidence, commitment, and support from our friends loved ones come into play.  Figuring out what motivates us to keep pushing forward is a key factor as well.

Of course, not all fear is bad and needs to be overcome.  Imagine what parenting would be like if children didn’t have any fear of negative consequences or disappointing their parents. Certain fears can be very limiting though if we let them. It is very difficult to face our fears or not let them prevent us from moving forward, trying new things, making changes, being vulnerable, and taking chances. Sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith and trust that everything will all work out in the end.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.

Confidence

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I read this quote and immediately thought, “Yes, that’s a perfect way to describe it!”  I do think confidence is very important in the grand scheme of things.  It can get you through some tough or stressful situations.  I believe it is an attractive quality in a person, as long as that person is not over confident.  To me, someone who is confident is comfortable in their own skin being who they really are and knowing they are a good person on the inside.  When that is the case, there should be no reason to compare yourself to anyone or anything but your own ideals.

Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of confusion and mixed messages as to what those ideals should be.  I think our society as a whole values a lot of the wrong things, including certain character traits.  If you’ve been following along, you know the whole point of this blog was for me to express my opinion, sometimes using examples from my personal life, as to what I believe those ideals should and shouldn’t be.  So I guess the first step is having the right ideals to begin with.

I think confidence also plays a big part in how successful you become at something.  The more confident you are, the more willing you are to put forth effort in practicing particular skills or trying new things, and the better you may become.  In other words, success breeds more success.  Meeting new people is a little easier if you exude a little confidence too.  If you come across like a know-it-all though, you will most likely be turning people away, or you will be closing yourself off to trying new ways of doing things and seeing other perspectives.

When I was teaching, one of the things I always seemed to be thinking about is how confident the students felt with what they were learning.  I encouraged them to think about it by sometimes asking them as they gave an answer how confident they were in their answer.  Often, a student would think that by asking that I was telling them their answer was wrong, but I usually wasn’t.  I just wanted them to feel confident and be aware of that feeling, especially if it was a student whom I felt needed to have a little bit more confidence.  I also asked my students to self-reflect every so often, which I could see helped build some kids’ confidence levels.  I think self-reflection is an important step in building self-confidence.  Positive reinforcement and encouragement on my part was often a key factor, too.

Many times, all it takes is looking back and thinking about how far we’ve come with something or what successes we’ve had, even if they are small ones, to help build confidence and a more positive attitude about something.  Confidence IS an attitude and one that we need to consciously think about from time to time.  Perhaps after reading this, you are thinking about something that was a bit of a struggle that you were able to overcome or something you didn’t think you were all that good at that you ended up doing well.  If not, take a moment to think about something now.  I can pretty much guarantee you will feel a little more confident, and perhaps you will even end up with a smile on your face.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.

Being In Limbo and Needing Resolution

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Being in limbo is one of my least favorite places to be, yet I’ve been finding myself there all the time lately.  There are so many aspects of my life that are up in the air right now that it’s hard to think much beyond a few days at a time.  I’ve always done better with stability and predictability in most aspects of my life, so the unknown is difficult to swallow sometimes.  I don’t like loose ends or not being able to anticipate the next step.  Once I have a plan or know what to expect down the road though, then I’m good.

The problem is there are so many unknowns that the comforting feeling doesn’t usually last very long. Then I’m onto the next unknown.  I know life is full of ups and downs and is ever revolving, but there are some pretty significant things right now that I am unsure of how they will work out.  It just gives me that out of control feeling like I am just along for the ride and am powerless to steer myself in any particular direction while I ride out the storm.

Consequently, I tend to latch onto things that are predictable to balance everything out.   Continue reading

Being Thoughtful

One of the things about another person that stands out for me is how thoughtful they are.  This can mean many things.  It can be how much they put others’ needs above their own, how frequently they do things like hold a door open or let someone go first, or the fact that they will drop everything and be there for someone else, if necessary, even if it means it will inconvenience them.  It could also be doing things for other people that they don’t have to but do anyway because they know it will make the other person feel good, such as calling or texting to ask how they or doing or surprising them with something like flowers or a small gift.  Anyone who is willing to give of his or her time, whether it’s to support a cause or to lend an ear, is a very thoughtful person in my book.

To me, how thoughtful someone is says a WHOLE lot about that person’s character in general. Continue reading

Placing Blame

It seems to be human nature that when something goes wrong, many people want to immediately figure out who is to blame.  Often times, people are quick to blame anyone and everyone else except themselves.  It’s easier that way, because then there is no apology necessary and no need to do anything differently the next time because we didn’t do anything wrong in the first place.  It is difficult for some people to look in the mirror and see someone who has flaws and doesn’t have all the answers.  The thing is, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes.  It’s just that some people are willing to admit that and do something about it and others are not.

I am one who likes to figure out why things happen, so I do sometimes want to talk about what caused a certain chain of events to happen, but I am doing that with the intent on preventing the same negative chain of events from happening in the future. It’s not just about placing blame but figuring out what to do differently the next time.   Continue reading