Enjoying the Journey

One of the most important changes I made to my life in order to become more optimistic, was to learn to enjoy the journey. I have always been an extremely goal-orientated individual, with my eyes always on the destination. Although this quality is one of the better components of my personality, it doesn’t allow for taking in each and every day. I struggle to live in the moment; I am always too worried about the future or too excited that I forget to be truly present in my everyday life.

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( https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/515099276113845879/ )

It took me until the last month of school to recognise this and attempt to change my perspective. When I thought about my primary school and middle school years I had so many fun and hardworking memories to reflect on. These years presented the foundations for me to become who I am today. However, when I looked at my senior school years, all I could recall was thinking about graduation and life after school. And as much as it is great to be excited about the future, it did detract from the enjoyment of this vital step in my education journey.

So, with this realisation in mind, I set out to make the last few weeks of school about being at school – not about reaching the end. This was the first time I actively employed the skill reframing in my everyday life. I didn’t realise just how pessimistically I viewed even the tiniest aspects of my life until I attempted to change my thought process. Simple things like complaining about the number of staircases I had to climb to get to most of my classes and waiting in a seemingly ridiculously long line to the bathroom at the end of lunchtime, seemed to dominate my mind for most of the day. But why? As soon as I began looking at it from an alternative perspective, these issues seemed so unbelievably miniscule. Climbing the staircases not only improved my physical health, but the fact that I even had a multi-story school building equipped with the necessary facilities and teachers willing to share their knowledge, never even crossed my mind. I realised I rarely took the opportunity to appreciate what I actually have. Especially when you consider those less fortunate, my lack of gratitude was simply put, completely out of line.

Once I continued with my reframing, my disposition changed for the better. I was so much happier and even a mediocre day seemed like one of the best days of my life. I allowed myself a few moments to regret the last few years I had wasted being unsatisfied, and then moved on. This time around, I had learnt my lesson too late. But the journey wasn’t over. There was university, a career (whatever that may be), starting a family, and so many more to look forward to and enjoy. And with that notion in mind, I set on my tertiary studies with determination and an aim to get as much out of it as possible. I didn’t want to settle for scraping through, when I knew that with effort, I could do much better. I made the conscious decision to enjoy the journey and not just get through on the bare minimum in order to attain my qualifications at the end.

I am only a semester in at this point, but my love for university and my commitment to my resolution remains strong. I attend all my lectures and rarely procrastinate, even though this has required me to reduce my hours of paid-work. By fully immersing myself in what I am learning, I have grown so much and become increasingly inspired. I have found that studying is much easier as I crave the knowledge, not just the success of a good grade. I was lucky in that I was able to choose exactly what I wanted to do at university, and what I chose was something I was tremendously passionate about. It makes my 8am lectures that much easier to get out of bed for.

I take the time to focus my energy on enjoying the small aspects of the journey. As I walk across the bridge over the Brisbane River from the train station every day, I push myself to appreciate the sun on the water and the boats that line Kangaroo Point. I indulge in a coffee from the stand on the bridge, and although this expense could be considered unnecessary, it gives me an opportunity to stop before my day begins and centre myself. Without realising it, I have conditioned myself to feel overwhelmingly excited when I see the big university sign as I draw closer each morning.

It has become a part of my nature to enjoy the little things and to want to strive for my best, because I want to live in an atmosphere of growth. And through growth – happiness. I want to look back on the four years of my degree and think, I got so much more out of this than a piece of paper. Because ultimately, the journey is more important than the destination and the skills, mates, and morals you develop along the way will stick with you forever.

The-Journey_Dan-Millman

( http://evolution360d.com/creating-happiness-journey/ )

For Perspective

The Journey from Pessimism to Overwhelming Optimism

Throughout high school I liked to think I had a very positive way of looking at being pessimistic. I believed that by always thinking of the worst possible outcomes of any given situation, I became either unable to be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. Now what I didn’t know was that this logic only got me so far – I shielded myself from letting hope cause me to be vulnerable, but I also lost a great deal of happiness. I was hardened to the world and for no good reason. I was lucky enough to be born into a loving family that – although separated – never made me feel like my life was lacking. I have always had a roof over my head and food in my belly and although like everyone, I have experienced tough times, I have not led a rough life. The issue resided in my cynicism. The issue resided in my perspective.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

I remember coming across this quote well into my fourteenth year. It resonated with me, but I did not truly understand why for a few more years. I was able to identify the key components of the message: suffering is as prevalent as breathing and your happiness depends on your perspective. But what I didn’t understand was how I could cultivate this message in my life.

On a side note, I have found that I tend to be a philosophical drunk. At many post-night-out breakfasts, dressed half in pyjamas and half in the outfit from the night before, I have been informed that I would point at the sky and cry about our utter insignificance.  I have always been conflicted by my understanding of the concept and it clearly troubles me in any state I find myself in. On one hand I find insignificance comforting – the mistakes you make will never really leave a substantial impact on the world. In fact I learnt in the second week of my psychology degree that our parent’s actions only have a 30% impact on how we turn out (*parents everywhere let out a sigh of relief*). My understanding of our insignificance basically gave me a pass to mess up and that was reassuring. However, although it eliminated the worst emotions, it only reinforced the mediocre dullness of a pessimistic life. I didn’t feel sad so to speak, but I certainly was not actively feeling happy. I was in the gutter, and I was looking further down the gutter; I was stagnant and hopeless. And if there is one thing I have learnt in the last two months of my life, it is that stagnancy is the enemy of growth, and without growth we cannot be happy. Pearl S. Buck, American writer and novelist, commented on this when she stated, “Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.” This concept of happiness through self-improvement is not new. People have been speaking about it for centuries, yet the feeling of stagnation and lack of generativity throughout life is still the most common regret amongst members of our global community.

In many ways I believe I wasted many years not looking for beauty in the little things. Towards the end of my senior year of high school, we were asked to describe ourselves in one word and honest to God, the word I used was grumpy. And that was essentially it. I spent an abundance of my time at school being irritable and not enjoying the NOW. Too often we forget to live in the moment and just sit around waiting for the happiness coming in the future. This is all well and good, until you look back on this wonderful life you’ve led, and your only wish is that you had realised it sooner.

So, it was time to change. My life was slipping through my fingers. Everyday felt like work – merely getting out of bed felt tiring. I either slept too much or too little. I either ate too much or too little. I needed balance, I needed growth. I began to realise that YOU are your everything. I felt very selfish when I first came to this realisation, my entire worldview was changing to revolve around me. But this is life. The world you see is the world you CHOOSE to see, the life you live is the life you choose to live. You cannot control your circumstances but you can control the way you perceive them and the way they shape you. Bad things happen, yes. But good things happen to, when you are looking for them. They are hidden in the quiet moments of life. They are easy to miss but worth looking for.

The day before I tore my ACL in 2016, taking me away from what I believed to be the most fundamental part of myself and my life, I witnessed one of these quiet moments. One of the in-betweens of somebody’s day and like I mentioned earlier, I lost it in my Notes for over a year.

“To the guy on the train with that cute smile. I have no idea who you are, but I was just taking a train to touch football after a seriously shitty week at school and I saw you. Some random, late-teen twenty-something-year-old guy. You were standing, listening to music, and smiling. This seriously cute, little smile and two little dimples marked your cheeks. You were texting someone. It would have been your boyfriend, girlfriend or crush or something. It was that kind of smile. And at this point, ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz comes on my playlist and it was just so extraordinarily cute. And you made my day so much better. I looked around the carriage and no one else had noticed. Everyone was so absorbed in their tiredness – they missed this moment. Also, at this point I started feeling a bit stalker-ish, just staring at you. But anyway, for the rest of the afternoon and night I could not stop smiling. So, whoever you are – the guy on the train with the cute smile – I ship you and whoever you were talking to so hard. I hope whoever it is keeps making you that happy.”