Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Empty Basket

If you are ever placed in a situation where you need to interact with people who seem less than friendly, then this post is for you.

Consider that you carry an invisible and empty basket with you.  When any positive interaction happens between you and another person it is like they are putting a beautiful egg in your basket.  When you respond positively back it is like you are putting one in theirs.  Where do these eggs come from?  They are in a pouch that you carry on your side, also invisible, of course.  

If you go into these types of situations with your empty basket and expect to leave with it still empty, then any eggs that end up in your basket will be a bonus, as will any that you give out.

This analogy came to me after a particularly difficult interaction in which I felt that I had failed.  I had gone into the less than friendly situation determined to look for and see positive, but I was not successful.  What I saw instead was negative, and it drained my energy for some time afterward in mulling it over.  Had I envisioned every interaction with the above analogy in mind, I would have left that situation feeling good about myself and others.  

Next time I am faced with such a situation, I will indeed take my invisible basket with me and expect to leave with it empty.  Any positive eggs that come my way will be considered as a treasure, and I will seek to also give those treasured eggs to others as well.  

This analogy seems much more appropriate for another holiday coming up next spring, but I felt I should share it now.  Perhaps someone out there has some holiday interactions coming up that this could help with.  

May we all seek to see the positive around us as we go into this holiday season:)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Learning to Live in Balance

Learning to have balance in my life has been an ongoing process for many years.  Even though I teach classes about living a balanced life, I am still figuring it out myself.  It comes in layers.

For many years I have been so busy that when I look at my calendar with every day filled in with many things, it is a bit overwhelming, yet all those things have felt necessary, like I had no choice but to do them.

Amazing how standing back and looking at life from a different perspective changes the definition of priorities and balance.

Two months ago I had surgery.  My doctor told me I could not exercise or lift over 10 pounds for two months.  That took exercise and babysitting grand kids, as well as many chores off my plate immediately and without my consent.  In addition, my recovery was much harder and slower than expected, so I spent a lot of time in bed.  My energy level was very low, so I spend a lot of time reading and thinking.  (and watching movies, which was super fun!)

When you step out of your life like that, it allows you to look at your life from an outside viewpoint, rather than from being in the middle of it.  I was amazed at what I saw and learned!

One thing I started doing was writing down my favorite thing at the end of each day.  I started this in an effort to focus on the positive.  I did this for two months.  When I went back and read all the things that I had written, nearly all of them were relationship focused, not task focused.  Surprisingly, I discovered that getting things done off a list was not what brought me joy and satisfaction.  This was especially interesting considering that I am have been such a task-oriented person in the past.  You know, the kind that makes lists every morning and then feels discouraged if most of those things are not crossed off every night.  What I realized was that while my life focus had been on getting things done, the things that brought me the most joy were from investing in relationships that matter to me.  This conflict of focus has kept me out of balance for years and I had no idea!  It was a true aha moment for me.

Now as I slowly add things back into my life with my improving health, I am making a conscious shift to make the things that make me happy my highest priority, which includes putting a few fun things as priorities.  And that endless task list... well, some of those things still have to happen, but how I feel at the end of the day no longer depends on what tasks I accomplished.

I have realized that being happy is the biggest factor in having a balanced life.  It is, in fact, the purpose of finding balance.  You don't need to have surgery to get a perspective shift.  Take the time to write down your favorite thing about each day before you go to bed.  Do this for a month.  You will find definite patterns that will lead you to know which way to shift your priorities to have greater balance and happiness in your life.