As we return to work tomorrow after the Thanksgiving break, rest assured that pretty much everyone you know, and do not know, is also experiencing the dread of going back to school and work tomorrow, as we wave goodbye to the never-long-enough vacation weekend. Unfortunately, life is full of these moments, moments of bitter endings, moments of having to do what we really would prefer not to do. As humans, it’s the rule that we have to do things we would rather avoid (e.g., getting your wisdom teeth pulled, giving negative feedback to a co-worker, eating lettuce over donuts). So, how do we deal with this conundrum- that in order to survive, to have the items we need and want, we have to do things we would rather not do?
First, life is about discipline- it’s about eating the healthy, maybe less delicious choice over the unhealthy, scrumptious choice because we need to take care of our bodies in order to avoid disease, illness, and pain. We need to take care of ourselves, so we are alive and well, now, and as we age. It’s about saying no to the short-term desires in exchange for the long-term rewards and gains. Second, life is about joy and pleasure. But, we can’t always have our cake and eat it too. We also can’t always work and ignore pleasure and we can’t always have fun without putting in some effort. This is the eternal struggle of being a human- how do you live everyday to the fullest and like it’s your last while also doing what you need to do to keep a roof over your head, eat, and build and save for your future?
Tip #1: Do something everyday that sparks joy in you. It could be drinking your favorite cup of coffee in the morning, smiling at a stranger, giving someone food who lives on the streets, talking to your best friend, drinking your favorite beer, admiring the view, dancing to your favorite song, lighting candles. Find joy in the ordinary.
Tip #2: As often as possible, express gratitude. Journal about what you are grateful for, tell someone how much they mean to you, write someone a thank you card who helped you that day. What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you said thanks for yesterday?
Tip #3: Give. Donate a few dollars to your favorite charity, pay for the person’s coffee behind you in line, surprise a loved one with flowers, a sweet note, or dinner, go to Kickstarter or GoFundMe and give to something that intrigues you, find a place to volunteer your time or money. Ask yourself, “How will I be a contribution today?” Be the fountain, not the drain.
Tip #4: Find the benefit in doing what you don’t want to do. You are in control of your thoughts, emotions, and attitude towards the things you aren’t super fond of. Be thankful you have a job, think about how much you enjoy the company of your co-workers, ponder your meaning and purpose, assess your short and long term goals. Find the silver lining, practice reframing the negative.
“Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.” -Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility
Tip #5: Remember, what you are feeling is a shared, universal feeling and that we are all in this together.