My job means that I see people struggling. With illness, breakups, anxiety, grief, sadness and despair. I watch people overcome incredible adversities, physical restrictions, and sometimes facing the end of their lives.
When we get caught up in life, its hard not to get stuck worrying about everything that we are meant to be worrying about. Are we working hard enough? What if I fail my HSC? Do we have enough money? Should we have kids? What are people thinking about me? There is a lot of pressure on everyone to have the best, be the best and know what they are doing at every turn. The thing that I have learned though, is that no one knows the answer to what the 'best' is, and when you get to what the ideal is, often there is something else to run towards just around the corner.
The most valuable things that I have learned have come from my patients, particularly my young patients. Being in the most difficult situations, often brings with it a sense of clarity. Never once when working with a dying person have they said to me "I wish I had more money" or "I wish I had of worked more". I don't have the answer for what you might say in that space, but I am willing to bet that it is neither of those sentences.
So, my challenge to you for the week. Consciously notice the small things. You know the ones, the kinds of things that we brush aside as we go about our hectic lives. Take out your iPod and listen to the sounds of life, or leave your earphones in and get absorbed into your favourite ever song. Feel what the sun feels like on your skin. Eat ice-cream in the afternoon. Listen to your kids/partner/friends/workmates - no really listen to them, why are they telling you what they are telling you? Are they happy, sad, scared, anxious or worried? Take the dog for a long walk, and notice how happy he/she looks afterwards. Talk to the person you see everyday on your way to work/school. Hold your partners hand. Laugh, just because it feels good. Cry, just because it makes you feel better.
Doing these things won't get rid of the pressure, your stressors or the difficulties that are modern life. But I imagine it will bolster your resources to deal with everything else, and you will probably feel more content and satisfied for it.
What do you do to make the small things matter?
Well, I think its fair to say that Winter has well and truly made its mark on Sydney over the last couple of months. We know that it is going to come every year, and yet it seems surprising when it arrives. The thing that I have noticed the most, as I do every year is that everyone starts to hibernate and delaying things....
Like... "I can't exercise today its too cold" or "I am going to cancel lunch/dinner/plans because I just want to head home to the couch". We have all done it from time to time, and winter provides a great excuse for us.
The reality however is that the more we avoid doing things and engaging in activities, the less energy and motivation that we are likely to have. So that avoidance of walking the dog in the morning, is much more likely to lead to a whole day on the couch watching rubbish tv, not sleeping well, and then feeling more tired the next day. Simple things can make a huge difference, and that 20 min walk/coffee with a friend/or venture to the shops will actually make things feel better!
Remember the golden rule, the less you do, the less you will want to do! But it works just as well in reverse. So this weekend (which is predicted to be a bit cold and miserable), don the jacket, make some plans and stick to them! You will feel better for it come Monday morning, I promise!
What are your tips for staying motivated in the winter?