There are days and weeks where we just don’t want to face the world. Days when we feel that it’s all a bit too much to handle, all a bit too much to deal with. Sometimes we are confronted by so many things of a negative influence in our lives that we just can’t seem to see through the gloom and depression that goes with all the bad news around us.
Well the last week has been pretty much one of those for me. After having to deal with a second break in within a month at our place of business, I also had to deal with a personal blow, when someone I trusted ended up letting me down seriously. It’s at times like these that I stop sometimes and just want to lock myself away and forget that a world outside of the safety of my own environment exists. I’m sure that if your reading this that you can relate to how I feel, and it’s in times like this that sharing and writing are perhaps the hardest. Personally I’ve never been a big talker about the things that hurt me, and the issues that leave me feeling vulnerable and depressed. Its often easier to just bottle up these feelings and show the world a happy go lucky face that attempts to hide the pain.
I’ve learnt over time however, that no matter how hard it is to hide your feelings you never really succeed in keeping them locked away. The pressure that you place on yourself through this action of denial that anything is wrong means that the burden you carry causes a twist in your character that comes out as anger or frustration. The act of locking away your disappointments and emotions means that you are running on full, with little or no space to be able to cope with and address the issues that confront you daily through life. Yet it is also one of the hardest habits to break. It is too easy to just clamp down and close out the world around us.
I admire people that are confident and have little fear of rejection and disappointment. They are rich in character and have an astonishing ability to bounce back from all kinds of setbacks that life kicks their way. I’ve spent many a day wondering what it is that gives people that ability to recover from a personal train smash in such a remarkable and seemingly unaffected way. Again however, time has taught me that we are all different and deal with issues in different ways. The perception that someone is capable of dealing with emotional scars more effectively than say you or I does not mean that they have dealt with the issue at all. In fact I’d be quite bold as to hazard a guess that the reality is that people who may fall into this section of society have only learnt to become better actors than you or I.
Happiness is a state of mind that is nurtured through concentrating on the good in life. To be truly happy is to be free of worry, free of stress, free of time, free of pressure, free of concern and most importantly free of responsibility. Personally I believe that we experience true happiness once in our lives, and that is when we are children without knowledge, fear, boundaries or responsibility. As we grow up and learn things, pay attention to the world around us, become entwined in complex relationships and take on responsibilities, it becomes harder and harder to experience sustained true happiness. The simple pressures associated with survival, working, earning, on their own mean we are continually bombarded with factors that tug at us emotionally, let alone when we enter into relationships, business, or take on the responsibilities of becoming a parent.
You cannot deny today that most people get little time out to relax and enjoy what we have achieved. We arrive home to yet more chores, after having worked an eight hour day, find that by the time we’ve cooked, cleaned and prepared ourselves for bed, we are ready to fall into it. Far too often we stretch the time we are awake, maybe to watch a movie, spend a little time together, work out and argument, or just unwind from the stress of our day. The impact of this means that the reduced time we give our bodies to rest, leaves us feeling tired, unfulfilled and restless.
Conducive to happiness? I would suggest not.
So how do we really gain that equilibrium in life? How do we skilfully ensure that we give ourselves the time we deserve to make sure that we are happy in as much as we can be?
Firstly I’d suggest that we need to realise that we live in a big bad world. This is a selfish place, and we are living in a society that is very much trained to get all it can for itself, as easily as it can, as fast as it can, while it can. This is a dog eat dog world, and accepting that in most cases we are at risk of being eaten, beaten or given a rough ride along the way by people we may trust, respect or consider our friends will prepare us for being let down at some time in the future.
Secondly, I’d very much suggest that we need to be realistic with ourselves. Don’t be so gullible. Don’t be so willing to be the one taking all the risk. Be careful in what you commit yourself too, and take care that what you do is for your own best interests. Remember that you really must look out for yourself. Know what makes you happy, and understand what you are able, capable and incapable of doing. Be challenged to excel, but do not set yourself up to burn out along the way.
Thirdly, choose your invested relationships carefully. The biblical principal of judging a person as a tree, by the fruits he bears is a fundamental lesson for all of us. Someone that consistently lets you down is not going to change. Someone that thinks only of themselves is pretty much going to always be selfish. These are characteristics that you can see and gain quick understanding of. Limiting yourself to the amount of emotional hurt and disappointment you go through will help in maintaining a balance on the scales.
But in saying all of these things, I’d suggest that the most important of all of these is no four. Develop a close and binding dedication to living. It is good to prepare yourself for the world in which we live, but don’t allow that preparation prevent you from living. Understanding that you will be let down in life, and realising that it’s a human trait means your better able to move on through that experience when it does happen, but more importantly also allows you to understand that you too are going to let someone down at some point. It is the way life works. Choosing our friends carefully will protect us from disappointment, but it will also make us more aware of how we act towards and treat other people.
In all things, do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Again a biblical principal that clearly sets out how we can learn to be better people. Jesus was no fool, and he totally understood that as men we are not perfect, but he took time to tell us how we could better our lives and seek happiness and fulfilment.
Yes when we are down and the world around us has dealt us a blow, it’s ok to feel depressed and disappointed. It’s quite alright to be angry and frustrated. Just don’t let it consume you. Don’t lock it away to quietly eat away and breed resentment and contempt. Learn to forgive, forget and get on with your life, and you’ll find that it’s easier to leave some of the pressures and concerns of the world behind and enjoy the things that are good in our lives.