Tag Archives: optimism

Why not me?

17 Nov

“My child died, very suddenly. I could never understand it but I never asked: “Why me?” Instead I asked: “Why not me?” It could happen to anyone so why should it not happen to me?”

Above is a father’s quote from a newspaper article I read recently, after a very tragic accident that killed his little child. It left me totally amazed at this man’s bravery and wisdom to see his loss in such a different light. It taught me a valuable life lesson, better than all the advice I have ever read about moving on and coping with hardships. It is this simple mantra of life: “Why not me?”

When we struggle, we always try to find answers by asking the why question.

“Why me, why this way, why now?”

Sound familiar? I know I have done it so many times. But if I could find that father, I would shower him in smiles and gratitude. Because his wisdom made me realise the danger of “Why me?”. While it is a natural reaction to a negative, unexpected obstacle or a trouble, it can also make you block the world out.  It will make you try to justify your troubles by finding answers in you.

And  that can lead us to create a pulping well of self-pity and worthlessness. We start feeling like we have done something wrong. We must have! Why else would this be happening to us? We start feeling that somehow, we deserve this horrible thing, this unhappiness.

But I want to tell you now: That is an illusion. Obstacle is just a circumstance. It is not your quality, not your innate trait. It does not mean you deserve unhappiness. It is just something that came your way. And a way to move past it, to fight back, is to follow the footsteps of the brave father above and ask:

Photocredit: nborlando.org

This question has been a revolution to me. No actually, more like an evolution. It has taught me a totally new way to assemble my worries.

Asking ‘Why not me?’ makes you open up to the world. It makes you look at your neigbour and think: This could have happened to him too. But still, I would not wish the same struggles for him. So why not me?

It makes you look around and realise that you’re not alone. That somewhere, someone is crying just like you are. That somewhere, someone is laughing just like you are.

The biggest illusion we have in life is that others won’t understand us. That our hardships are our own hardships.  But they’re not. There is over seven billion individuals dwelling around this planet right now so it is very likely you share experiences with them. That makes our hardships everyone’s hardships. This way, you can see you’re not alone and you can see the value of sharing a load. Be comforted by this.

“Why not me?”  will make you find perspective. Make you realise that you do not need to overscale your troubles, you do not need to tell people that they can’t possibly understand your suffering, just to show them how much you hurt or how stressed you are. You can show that by simply telling them what is wrong. And you might be surprised to find they have something to share with you too.

The photocredit: silverhuang.com
Caption edited in by me.

“Why not me?” can also make you see other people as they are, as people. It can stop you from making rushed judgements.

It is easy to look at a homeless person and think he is a hopeless alcoholic. It is easy to look at a parent having three jobs and think they’re neglecting their child. It is easy to look at someone overweight with two bags full of crisps and think they’re doing nothing to change their unhealthy lives.

And why is it so easy? Because our brain functions on learnt stereotypes, that is how it makes sense of the world. But you can break those stereotypes, those unpurposeful judgements. You can do it by introducing your brain a new way of making sense of the world:

“Why not me?”

That is a reality call ringing in your head. It can help you realise that these people have stories too, just like you do.

That homeless man might have children, he might have a top degree in maths but never had a full-time job. And that parent, juggling too many part-time jobs, she might be a single mum, trying to scrape money for bills, healthy food and her child’s school supplies. That man you thought fat and lazy, he might be comfort eating because his parents have just died and he does not know who he could turn to.

“Why not me?” makes you realise: That person you judged by outer appearance could be you.

And you can also be the person they can turn to.

You can help and be helped. You do not need to be alone. You can turn your obstacles into a source of strength.

So why don’t you?

Why not you?

An ode to the 21st century

7 Nov

Photocredit: guardian.co.uk

This city is the faceless eel

that sucks your body dry,

it is the greyness and rain

dampening your brain,

turning it into poisoning fungi

This city is the pit of vomit, cold

and egoistic battles, it is the cages

of our minds that rattle, it is

the reek of loneliness in our tears

as we squirm in our one-room flats,

in our boxed-up apocalyptic fears

And yet, I do not hate this city

and the dark pit of dirt it bears

No, I do not hate but dream of the day

we’ll buy all the pure-coloured paint

and overnight, we will spray this city white

And we will watch that glimmer

we created, we will watch it peel

the buildings out of stiffness and

the people out of their sunken forms,

we will watch us all being reborn,

again carrying the sun in our cores

I do not hate this city for it is not evil

only baby-blind, waiting to open up

its hazy eyes.

I do not hate this city because

to love the sun one must first be

shown the light.

Give me the address of happiness. Where is it?

3 Nov

Imagine if happiness lives in today. Imagine if all the happiness you will ever be given is the amount you’re feeling right now.

How did that make you feel?

If you’re feeling joyful today, you probably just shrugged your shoulders to the notion that today determines your happiness. ‘It’s all good then.’ But if you’re having particularly miserable, lonely, rainy or gloomy Saturday, you might feel a bit disappoined or angry.

At least, that’s the way I felt when I first read that idea somewhere. I was having one of those days where you swear to yourself that gravity is playing some sick-minded joke on you, pulling you down harder than anyone else.

What?! Are you bloody serious saying that if I feel miserable today, I’ll never get happier? That I’ll never be happy? Do I not deserve happiness?

The outrage above is quite an accurate replica of my feelings back then. First I was angry, then I was angry at myself which made me feel guilty. All the while I was straying further from feeling happy, and I felt like all the inspirational quotes in the world had betrayed me. I felt like they were one of those scam e-mails saying: Give me your PIN-number and I will give you one billion pounds.  And I had fell for it.

Why can I not feel happy? Have I not tried hard enough?

The quote stuck with me, it sat right next to me on my bad days, staring at me when I was burying my face into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s to find cheerfulness.

That quote was the one maths equation you still remember from school, the one that you always sweated over in lessons and that always, always popped up in an exam. Just so you couldnt’ solve it again. Bad luck isn’t it?

No… wait. Maybe it’s not. Just because you couldn’t solve something yesterday doesn’t mean you cannot do it today.

Maybe it didn’t come up to annoy you, but to give you one more chance to realise things. Maybe it’s not the annoying, unsolvable, hair-tearing mystery but an important lesson you have been given to learn. And when you do, and you will, it is a true gift.

I now love the idea that today determines your happiness, because that means you have a choice. You don’t have a choice to change your past, the only choice that is found there is to accept and forgive. But right now, you have a choice, to change your tomorrow.

So, if you knew for sure, that what you feel right now affects  your feelings tomorrow… what would you choose? Would you try and find happiness? If yes, then you will find it. If not now, then tomorrow.

If you choose it now, you will not be miserable. If you choose to trust happiness even in your worst moments, it will wait for you to find it again, like a loayl friend. Happiness will not abandon you.

Photocredit: 9images.blogspot.com

 

Wishing you a better today, and a better tomorrow!

On gratitude

19 Oct

Beggar (Fisher Girl) by Ilya Efimovich Repin

I’m sharing you this artwork for a reason, and it is not the beautiful sentiment of the piece, although that is a reason enough in itself. But today, I’m sharing you this piece because I met a very inspirational man who reminded me of the above portrait.

I work in a supermarket and though I try to treat all my customers with equal respect and cheerfulness, sometimes you meet people who are just something different, in all the good ways. This man was one of them.

He was buying leather shoes. I soon found out his character was as soft as the beautiful, slender texture of the shoes. Because suddenly, he asked me if I knew what ‘crow boots’ were. I was bemused and said that I wasn’t sure if they were part of our range, they didn’t sound familiar.

At my remark, the man bursted out laughing and said they hadn’t been part of anyone’s range for the past 50 years, at least not in Finland or countries of equal social security.

‘ Crow boots were the crust that dried on your feet when you had been plodding through wet mud and dirt all day. Crow boots were the only shoes I had as a kid. 55 years ago… when things were a bit different.”

Then the man seemed to contemplate something for a moment, so I said in wonderment:

“It must be really weird to see the difference so clearly now, how things have changed for kids and teenagers.”

“Yes… but they were good times too, you know. In their own way, simpler and good.”

The man’s smile and content left me in awe. There was a boy behind him queueing to buy an iPad 4. He was sulking. I wished the man a lovely weekend. I wished the boy would be grateful and see the difference.

It is hard to understand the ways in which things have changed in such a short time. To think that I have 10 pairs of shoes and have taken them for granted all my life. It is indeed a blissful world where you can complain about missing a bus, runny make-up, long queues in shops and spiders in your house.

I’ll risk sounding terribly serious and morbid, and say: I don’t like the way how ‘First world problems’ has become a jokily phrase over the internet. It is not a joke, although we should laugh everyday, because we indeed are terrible lucky and blessed.

I learnt a lot from that man today. I learnt how to be happy and grateful. I learnt to love my shoes a little bit more too, if that is possible for a girl.

What do you love and are grateful for?

Reality is subjective

15 Oct
“Ceci n’est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe.” by Magritte

The painting above is of a pipe. Right? We see the photo and accept this observation. Till we read the caption. This is not a pipe.

But it is! Surely it is a pipe!  That was at least my first, confused reaction, maybe yours too. To contemplate otherwise, to accept that it is in fact something else than our initial sensory observation, would mean we need to find another function for it. That we need to challenge our existing knowledge and perception of a reality.

But what if, indeed, we entertain the possibility the above painting doesn’t simply depict a pipe? If we change our thinking towards the painting, then it does really become something else. Because reality is what we perceive it to be.

Anyone who considers themselves an idealist or an optimist, anyone who genuinely adores the old cliché of reaching for the stars and falling on the moon,  has probably heard the following phrase: Realist doesn’t get disappointed.

But the idea that optimism and realism would somehow close each other out of existence, that they’re total opposites and you need to choose one, is absurd. Because reality is changing, all the time, around us.

Let’s do a bit of time travelling. Do you think that when Wright brothers first came up with their idea of an aeroplane, people considered it realistic? Do you think that before yesterday it was considered realistic that a man could break the sound of speed, fall down 128,100 feet and land alive?( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19943590) Few people did think so, Baumgartner and his team, but how many times have they been called crazy because of their dreams?

Felix Baumgartner

Do you think that in Ancient Greece, when geocentrism was the prominent cosmological view, it was imagined that one day this view would be turned completely upside down and inside out? Do you think that space travel, visiting the moon and floating in the edge of space were considered human acts?

All the above ideas were considered not only optimistic or idealistic, but down right ridiculous. Unbelievable.

However, all the above are also examples of commonly accepted views or universal paradigms that have changed through our time, like moving from geocentrism to heliocentrism. Who knows what we will discover next. So if reality can change this way, in a universal scale, why couldn’t you change your reality? Change the way you perceive your life?

To do this, to make something realistic, to make your dream achievable, all you have to do is believe that it is realistic and achievable. Optimism and idealism are needed to create progression.

Of course work is needed too. But if honest, solid belief if your basis for this work, if you know and believe in your heart that you can do it, then it doesn’t matter how many times you find yourself flat on the ground. Because when belief is your foundation, you don’t turn your gaze to the smudgy, grey leaves when you fall. Or at least, you don’t keep it there. You keep it fixed on your goal, on your dream, and you make your way towards it. Even if it feels that for a moment, you’re just going crawling-pace. But you’re moving.

Your dreams can be your reality. Believe it. Do it. Never give up.

Have a realistic, fantastic Monday!

Photo of the artwork from: artfinder.com

How to beat the Monday syndrome

8 Oct

I bet we have all reached a point in life where we just look into the mirror or out of the window or stare blindly in front of us, dazed out, and think: “I just can’t go on.” The kind of moment when first it feels like a beautiful, perfect day, a wind in your hair like freedom, and you’re driving down the fast lane of your life 120 mph and laughing. Then BANG! You hit the brick wall of reality.

Maybe it’s something really big that sends your car spinning into chaos, or it might be something small. Exhausting period in work, a particularly hurtful misunderstanding or the nightmarish Monday when everything goes wrong. Or it might be the nagging feeling that nothing is particularly wrong, but something just isn’t right either. The feeling of ambiguity can sometimes drain us out the hardest, because while it might be nothing to worry about, just a passing feeling, it can cause us to lose our purpose. For all the worriers out there, I can volunteer to admit that I fit the last description. A problem the size of a fly can turn into a full-scale war of worries in my head. After dropping a pile of work papers, which I have been sweating over the whole day and just organised into their final form, I can feel  the ‘AAAAGH my life is falling apart!’ taking over. It might sound dramatic, but in that feeling it’s hard to remember it was just papers you dropped and messed up, not your  actual life.

Today has been one of those days for me. But this time, I decided not to give in. Instead, I wrote a little recipe that works better for me than Carpe diem does. This is for beating out all those rubbish Mondays:

First, stand straight. Don’t let your gaze drag at the ground. Look up. Look at the clouds.

It doesn’t matter if they’re rosy pink or a grim blanket of rain. Just look at them, see them moving in the wind. They might be grey now, but soon that passes too. Or they might be a pale pink only to be later dazzlingly gilded by the first rays of the sun. Just take a good look, and realise that the clouds up there are your life. They’re moving.

Now let go of the bullying emotion you have been holding onto. Blow it out, right into the sky. Look at it being carried away by the clouds, to be replaced by new things, always. The sky is never empty, it is an ever-changing canvas of your life. Look at your life moving on. You’re not stuck. To live in a moment, you just have to look up.

The clouds are beautiful, just like your life. If you can’t see it now, look again in half an hour and there will be a whole different landscape waiting for you up there. Life will surprise you.

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First photo: © daydreamdaisies, the second and third: weheartit.com

Quote

Feeling low? Get dosed up on inspiration and strenght!

6 Oct

With this:

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

-Samwise Gamgee, Lord Of The Rings-

J.R.R Tolkien must have been one of the wisest men who ever lived. Would love to have a tea party with him, Einstein, Rosa Parks, Da Vinci, Stephen Hawkings and Brian May.