So many of us wear masks and costumes in our everyday life. Today, everyone wears them. Halloween is fun and light-hearted and sugar-ridden and spooky.
Needs and wants. Sometimes we get them mixed up. We need food, water and sleep. But we also need love. We need validation for who we are. We need to know that we matter.
But what do we want? We might want more things. More vacations. A bigger house. A nicer car. A promotion.
What fills our cup more?
Sometimes it feels like we are running on a treadmill to nowhere. What we want is always just outside our grasp. What we need is often already in the palm of our hand but we don’t see it.
As Chris Martin sings in the song Fix You, “When you get what you want, but not what you need. When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep. Stuck in reverse.”
Are we stuck in reverse? Are we chasing the wrong things? What do we really need to live a joyful life?
George A. Moore, an Irish novelist from County Mayo in Ireland once said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
Where is the treasure you seek buried? Usually it’s in your own backyard.
I was reading Seth Godin’s blog the other day and he was talking about irritability. He said people who are drowning or starving are not irritable because they are too busy trying to survive to act that way. He said someone who is irritable is resentful that they are not getting what they deserve. He said irritability is a privilege.
That really made me see irritability in a new light.
How many times have we been irked by our kids or our job or our friends? How many times have we been silently resentful about something but said nothing and then acted irritable to someone else? Usually someone we are comfortable with, like family, because we know they’ll love us anyway.
If we feel like we’re not getting what we deserve, what about saying something? Discussing it? Or moving on to where we do belong?
There are so many choices in life and being irritable is one of them. It’s a choice. So is being joyful. And happy. And peaceful. And grateful. And content.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Are we letting something in our life steal our joy? How will we choose to act today? If we are grateful for what we have rather than resentful about what we are missing, happiness will prevail.
It’s the differences. We compare ourselves to others all the time. How they parent. How they vacation. How they exercise. How much money they make. How their kids are doing in school.
We look at others and think they are skinnier, prettier, funnier or smarter than us. We think we are not enough because we are different.
But the differences make all the difference. The differences are everything.
We are unique and we each have a gift that no one else has. What a boring place the world would be if we were all the same.
Differences are especially highlighted in school children. The desperation to fit in. To be the same. But we have to remind our kids that the people who are different are the ones who succeed. They are the change makers and the trailblazers.
Shania Twain once said, “I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful.”
We must see the beauty in our differences and embrace them. Because what makes us different is what makes living worthwhile.
I was listening to Seth Godin, a best-selling author and entrepreneur, and he gave a great analogy. He said it’s not necessarily the person who knows all the answers who wins the game of Jeopardy, but the person who rings the buzzer first. And in order to get your buzzer heard, you have to press it before your mind has processed whether you actually know the answer.
So to go for the win, you have to take a chance at failing. You have to leap before you know whether your wings will fly.
So many of us are waiting to make sure we know all the answers before we get started. What are we trying to do? What are the pitfalls? What action would we take in this scenario or that one? What if it doesn’t work out?
We will never know all the answers. We won’t even know the destination. The only thing we can be sure of is that if we put one foot in front of the other we’ll get somewhere.
And we’ll fail over and over again. The best inventors fail thousands of times. They see it as an education. As long you continue to get back up.
Lucille Ball once said, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
What is holding us back? What is it that we really want to do? Today is as good a day as any to get started on something you’ll never regret.
Press your buzzer. You’ve got this.
It might be the barista who makes your coffee each morning just the way you like it. Or the breakfast bar cook who always knows what you take in your made-to-order omelette. It could be the dry cleaner who perfectly alters your suits. Or the butcher who puts aside that roast because he knows you always pick one up for Sunday dinner.
The list goes on and on. That grade one teacher who your kids will remember forever. That neighbour who always takes your newspaper in when you’re away for a few days. That woman at the courier company who calls the driver to pass by your house again now that you’re home.
Do these people matter to you? Would you notice if they were no longer there?
And what about all the people who look at you as that special person who does something extraordinary every day that makes others stop and take notice?
It is so easy to make a difference with the little things. To exceed expectations.
Mandy Hale once said, “To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.”
How can we care about someone else today? How can we make someone feel like they matter and in return, matter ourselves?
William Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
We are parents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbours. We are employees and leaders. We are soccer coaches and dance moms.
But we can also be game-changers and trailblazers.
We can be community activists. We can be a voice for those who cannot speak.
We can make a difference every day in each role that we play.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
What you can accomplish in life is usually much bigger than what you dream it can be. Most of us can’t even imagine what is possible if we take action every day doing something we love and believe in.
One of the first questions we ask when we meet someone new is what do you do? And almost everyone has an answer to that question. But you are so much more than “what you do.” You are what you become and what you create as you do what you do.
Keep your dreams big and your actions intent. Who knows what you might be as the future unfolds? Anything is possible.
I have always loved the messages Mary Oliver writes about. I saw a quote from her recently that said, “With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. …Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity.”
The idea of adults wearing so many heavy coats painted a picture for me. All the responsibilities. All the balls being juggled in the air. Trying to figure out which balls are rubber and which are glass. Which will shatter if dropped and which will keep right on bouncing.
That balancing act between work, family, friends, children’s activities, volunteerism and yourself. Where we constantly have to find that little rush of oxygen to light the one match we are holding for our passion in life.
As Rachel Platten sings, “I might only have one match. But I can make an explosion.”
As we continue on our journey through adulthood, we have to decide how many coats we can wear. When is it too heavy? Which ones can we shed as we become our best selves? And how can we light up the world with our gift?
As Mary Oliver so poignantly asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
As the leaves start to turn deep shades of orange, red and yellow, and many families and friends gather around tables overflowing with turkey, vegetables and bread, I am reminded of the power of gratitude.
What are we grateful for? Our parents? Our children? Our siblings? Our health? Our home? A job we enjoy doing? Friends who understand us? Food that fuels our bodies and gives us joy?
Or do we focus on the things we want? To lose weight? To get that promotion? To move to a bigger home? To have more vacation time?
Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
This is something we can practice every day of our lives. Being thankful makes us happy. It doesn’t work the other way around.
William Arthur Ward once said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
May we stop and have gratitude for all the little things that add up to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Today, and every day, give thanks.