If you sometimes feel as though you’re caught in life’s quicksand, you have a lot of company. We work, we struggle, we try to do everything we possibly can to move on to a higher level of well-being but it seems like the harder we work, the more stuck we get. If you’re approaching a Category 5 frustration level, you might give this a try…
Switch your focus from that really nice – but frustrated – person in the mirror to one or more of the other folks who inhabit this good earth.
I realize that it’s important to watch out for number one – ourselves. We need to set goals, lay out plans and then do those things we need to do so that we can at least make some progress toward our goals. We need to demonstrate personal financial responsibility, plan for retirement and frequently just cover our backside so it doesn’t get chewed off by one or more of life’s rodents.
However, what frequently happens is that we become so over-focused on ourselves and our own personal well-being that we wind up building huge walls. We lose the ability – or even desire – to see the bigger picture and the possibilities that life presents to us. We become so focused on “me” that we sometimes begin scrutinizing even the most insignificant events to determine their potential impact on our personal lives. We become victims to ourselves. And to be real honest about it, we sometimes just become so busy being busy that we lose track of where we thought we wanted our lives to wind up in the first place.
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One possible solution as I mentioned earlier is to change our focus from “me” to “others”. From being the receiver to being the giver. And no, I’m not even implying that this requires any major change in the things we do every day. It may eventually lead to that but it’s not a critical part of the initial process.
Here’s what I mean. No matter what you do to earn a living or keep the household moving in a logical direction, somewhere down the line a real person will probably benefit from what you do. Think about it. The work we do is not just to stuff computer systems full of information or help machines work better. It’s not just to take people’s money so we’ll have a paycheck at the end of the week. It’s not just filling out forms, nailing pieces of boards together, assembling electronic devices, hauling packages, going to meetings, cutting down trees, repairing cars, painting houses, stocking shelves, installing drywall or flippin’ hamburgers. Somewhere, sometime (and maybe immediately) another human being will likely be positively affected by what you do.
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And yes, if you’re paying attention, you’ve noticed that I’ve used a couple of cop-out words in the preceding paragraph – “likely” and “probably”. I had to do that because in the real world there are some individuals whose money-making efforts are focused mainly on “non-beneficial” activities. That’s just the way the world is.
For the rest of us however, our activities and work generally reflect a more positive endeavor. That leads us back to the original suggestion. If you are caught in the quicksand, take a few minutes to really think about the people – the individuals who will be better off, healthier or happier because of what you do. Think about how you are giving of your time and talents so that others will profit in some way from your efforts.
Do you see what can happen here? When we change our focus from “me” to “others”, our work – the things we do every day – starts taking on a new significance. We are now a giver. Our life honestly is meaningful. We know that what we do is truly important to someone else. That’s pretty special, huh?
If you’re having to really stretch your imagination to see at least one other person benefiting from the things you do and it’s really not fitting together, you might consider looking into a different occupation – or at least a different way to spend your free time. There are a bunch of people who could really benefit from your talents. Think about what you do well – what you enjoy doing that could help others have a better life. Then go do it. You’ll be out of the quicksand before you know it.