Feeling Content 

Feeling content has a lot to do with feeling happy about your circumstances and being grateful for who and what you have in your life.  That can be very challenging when your basic needs are not being met.  I’m not talking about food, shelter, and clothing basic needs, although I’m sure it’s difficult to feel content when those needs are not being met either.  I am talking about being respected and listened to and things of that nature.  It’s hard to look on the bright side and see the positives life has to offer when the people who are most important in your life don’t value and appreciate you or treat you with respect.  It also becomes difficult to live in the moment and enjoy the little things when there is so much negativity on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I am speaking from plenty of experience.

I just read a quote that said, “When you learn to accept instead of expect, you’ll have fewer disappointments.”  This may be true to a certain extent, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be treated with respect and kindness, to feel valued as a whole person, and to have others be honest with me.   Continue reading

Setting Goals

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In a previous post titled, “Commitment”, I mentioned the importance of setting goals for oneself.  I think it really helps to have in mind where you want to be or what you hope to accomplish.  It gives you a sense of direction and something towards which to work and against which to evaluate yourself.

When I was teaching, at the beginning of each chapter, I had the kids write on an index card a goal that they had for that chapter.  It had to be something specific like increasing their average, getting above a certain score on the next test, handing in more homework, coming in more often for extra help, participating more in class, being less of a distraction to others, not being late to class, and so on.  At the end of the chapter, I would have them write on the back whether they thought they accomplished their goal and why or why not.  Then they had to write a new goal for the next chapter.  I tried to familiarize myself with some of their goals and praised or encouraged them when I saw the students making progress.  I believe having the students set goals periodically did help at least some of the students who took it seriously to be more successful.  They may not have accomplished all of their goals, but at least they were a little more conscientious about working towards them.

Establishing the goal is just the first step though.  Then you have to figure out what will motivate you to make progress towards the goal, self-evaluate along the way, and reward yourself for progress in the right direction.  You shouldn’t necessarily wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud or reward yourself.  Any steps in the right direction, even baby steps, are sometimes worth celebrating, depending on the goal.

This is all well and good, of course, when one can be in control of whatever needs to happen between setting a goal and reaching it.  That is often not the case though, and we have to deal with external factors and depend on other people, for example.  And there may be obstacles preventing us from moving forward that may take a while to overcome.  That’s where patience and perseverance came into play.  Feeling stuck in a rut or a particular situation that is all or mostly beyond your control is not fun. Sometimes we have to deal with feeling like we’re in limbo for a while, but in the meantime, hopefully the goal we’d like to achieve keeps us feeling positive or hopeful about things to come, helps us deal with our current situation, and/or gives us the extra incentive to do something differently.  Like I said in a post titled “Adapting To Change,” sometimes we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel before we can move towards it, and that’s where setting goals can be helpful.

Even if we don’t actually achieve whatever goal or it takes longer than we anticipated, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes it’s not reaching the goal that’s the most important thing but rather what we learn about ourselves and what character traits we develop or improve along the way.  As Albert Einstein said, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal. Not to people or things.” It’s what you become by achieving your goals that matters just as much as whatever you hope to accomplish.

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Being In Limbo and Needing Resolution

limbo

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