Question 13: Owing or owed? Does the world owe you or do you owe the world?
For whatever our station in life, it can often be easy to fall into the trap of thinking “where are my dues?”. “Look at what I’ve done today… this, and this, and this… shouldn’t something fall into my lap?”. On those days, where you give and give and give, you feel there should be some readdressing of the balance. I think we all do it, sometimes guiltily, sometimes without a second thought.
You owe the world.
When I catch myself now, my immediate go-to thought is “The world doesn’t owe you. You owe the world”. I say it many times to myself. It’s been amazing how turning one thing around makes such a difference.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “my life is filled, but I often feel unfulfilled”. Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens because of you - it’s what you choose to think, do and create in each moment. You paying back the world.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman.
It’s one thing to read words. It’s another thing to believe them. And it’s another thing to live them.
Question 12: What is the difference between physical and mental rest?
I believe there is a difference, and that both are very much needed.
I find all aspects of the physical easier. Physical exercise - being on our feet - is free from emotion. Sitting down (which I’m aware that in this modern sedentary world of ours is far too prevalent… think about the true proportion of your day that you sit or lie) provides respite. You’ve had a physically busy day when you fall into bed and are asleep almost instantly. Physical exercise often recharges too. I’ve had many a travel day, sitting in a car or aeroplane for hours, where upon reaching my destination have been quick to declare “I’m exhausted!”. Interestingly, I also find that when hard-core exercising, my mind is completely blank.
I find mental thought much more exhausting than physical activity. Does anyone else feel that way? Mental rest is a struggle, I am always thinking about what I need to do next. And when your work (and indeed play) is never done, how do you rest?
I love what this article has to say. Mental rest includes a big helping of being nice to yourself. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. And that’s exactly what point 1 is.
Point 3 is a winner (least of which is because of Barack Obama’s suit choice strategy!). Make decisions. Do.
Lara’s words are in the front of my mind whenever I’m staring at my inbox. Decide.
I feel I’m making progress on point 4, or at the very least, am supremely aware of it now. Interest is what picks you back up. Novelty, new information, discovering new tricks, thought provoking discussions. I think being able to recharge trumps refilling. The weekend is for life. I’m pleased to say I’m getting better at this. Saturday and Sunday can be for a (little) portion of rest and repair, but don’t let that take up all of your non-work time, as then, the preparation still feels like “work”. I always feel good for spending time with stimulating people and having light-bulb-moment conversations (aka “OMG yes! Me too!… That’s such a good idea!… What if we try…” conversations, complete with lots of hand waving). I’m getting better at enjoying different activities. It’s the different. It’s the doing.
So yes, this girl likes to-do lists. And I feel point 5 adds an excellent feature: if-then planning. If it is Thursday morning, then I will complete my patient notes paperwork. If it is Tuesday night, then I will go to boot camp. If it is after dinner, then I will brush my teeth to avoid sneaking back for extra food. Encouraging you to complete the task, while simultaneous taking away the it’s-on-the-to-do-list-I-must-not-forget-to-actually-do-it! pressure.
And I love this line from point 8:
“Psychologically, it’s often not whether we’ve reached our goal, but the rate at which we are closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to end up that determines how we feel. It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.”
In our modern world where we are obsessed with moving forward - often at break-neck speed - it is easy to forget how far we have actually come. Sometimes looking ahead seems like facing an awfully large abyss. And when we look at ourselves day by day, very often, all of the following clichés apply: grass growing, paint drying, waiting for the kettle to boil.
A variety of rest is required, and indeed the opposite to what we have been predominantly experiencing. Physical inactivity requires walking, start jumping, cartwheels; routine thoughts require novelty and fresh directions; future pondering requires a taking-stock-pep-talk. Never be afraid to give yourself a pep talk.
Rest is not a weakness. What works for you?
So I turned 30. Prior to this, I began contemplating some big picture questions, as always, in the name of growth and self understanding and love. I didn’t quite reach ‘30 before 30’, so it now continues as ‘30 during 30’.
This question comes straight from a mentoring session with one of my students. It’s a good question, and one I get asked by my little mentees often. And the answer is written as much to me, as it is to them.
Question 11: How do I know what I want to do? How do I know what I want to be?
You know that girl (or guy) we all have inside our heads? Daydream you. Future you. Best version of you. Tune into her.
We all live our lives with the ‘coming soon’ version in our minds. We do. In there, is a gorgeous girl who is our greatest asset. Mine is probably wearing a navy blue and white striped cape. She often has characteristics we have not yet obtained or achieved. For she is our trailblazer. We often deny the existence of her. We don’t view her as a benefit. We tell her we’re “living in the moment”. We worry we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
When asked this question, and after explaining (and reassuring about) cape-girl, my questions were: Where are you? Home? Office? Outdoors? What are you wearing? How do those clothes make you feel? Who are you interacting with? One-on-one? Larger groups? General public? Children? What activities are part of your everyday? Who is looking up to you? And what qualities are they looking up to? Are you feeling confident? Are you smiling?
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” - Albert Einstein.
Listen to that girl. She is your superhero. She is flying your flag. She is answering your questions.
… “Some might call it confidence, others name it faith. But if it makes us brave, the label doesn’t matter. For it’s the thing that frees us to embrace life itself.”
Today was a good day.
Why do we so often extrapolate out the bad, but not the good? It’s almost like the world has to be busy / stressful / problematic. I’m constantly trying to remind myself that while general society may view life this way, you don’t have to follow suit.
Historically, we needed to remember bad things because it was literally a case of life or death. “Don’t go into that cave… the sabre tooth tiger resides there”. Are we still slaves to our ancient genetics?
Do we see the negative as the win-win situation? “This is going to be dull / tedious / awful / embarrassing”… “Oh, it was better than expected”. “This is going to be dull / tedious / awful / embarrassing”… “Yep, I was right”.
I ran a diabetes education session all morning. Ten eager listeners hung off my every word. And being able to benefit so many people in a short space of time (more than when one-on-one) amplified the positive feeling. Rates of diabetes and obesity are increasing faster than the likes of me can educated and, hopefully, inspire.
One of the loveliest diabetes nurses, who I work alongside, specifically sought me out for dietary information for her elderly mother-in-law. And the gratitude hug was lovely.
A sweet, previously unknown, junior diabetes doctor sought me out, almost in tears, because she is underweight, losing weight and desperate to stop the “you are waaaaay too skinny” whispered remarks.
I gave a professional mentoring session to a colleague, to help her with one of her challenging patients, had my acupuncture session, and home cooked a healthy meal.
Days like this do exist.
Do I have to worry about anything?…
Courage doesn’t always roar; sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow”.