Change your Perspective, Change your Life:
By the time we’ve hit middle age, we’ve suffered a ding or two along the way. While I would rather not go back and relive any of my hardships, the things I have learned from them have have shaped and improved my life immeasurably. As I reflect on my life’s biggest lessons, those which most helped me heal and grow, I have found that gratitude, compassion, curiosity and a sense of adventure have added deepened meaning, peace and dare I say it, joy in this middle aged woman’s perfectly imperfect life.
My daughter and I used to keep gratitude journals in which we wrote five things we were grateful for each evening. We reflected on the day just past and found within it treasures both large and small. When the recession hit, I found myself terrified as I watched my clients disappear, and my neighbors loose their homes. Two of my colleagues committed suicide having lost all hope of improving their circumstances in life. It seemed that every where I looked, there was loss, and yet, when I practiced gratitude, I found all sorts of things to be grateful for. My former husband still had a job, and we were healthy. We still had our home, food, clothes, friends and family. We had sunny days and picnics in the park. There were all sorts of things we could enjoy that were completely free. We found joy in the little things–things I never noticed before. Things that have made my life rich and much more meaningful. In upping my gratitude practice, I was able to appreciate what we had, and spend less time on what we’d lost.
I always thought I was different than others, incomplete or broken in some invisible way. I was hopelessly self critical and of others as well. I was sure that others were “better” than I was, and that I was somehow undeserving of happiness and joy. I drove myself on, never satisfied with my progress or achievements. I had not learned to love or appreciate myself, and was always devouring the latest self help book in hopes that it would be my salvation. That is, until I began to learn compassion, first for myself, and then toward others. Learning to forgive myself, to love even the things that seem broken is an ongoing process, but well worth the endeavor. Compassion lead to my ability to love myself, to see myself as whole and to a deepened appreciation and love of others. Learning to be compassionate has brought me a sense of peace.
They say “curiosity killed the cat,” but I have found such richness in curiosity. I love learning new things about the world, people and myself. My first business mentor encouraged me to always be curious, always ask questions, and be open to learning new things, It has opened the door to my learning more about people, about how things work, and why things are the way they are. I love hearing about what people do, what they are interested in and what makes them tick. I love watching nature, and growth and changing seasons. Being curious has broadened my perspective and helped me to find even more beauty in the world.
A Sense of Adventure:
As an introvert, I tend to avoid going too far out of my shell, but my dad loved adventure. His passion for photography, travel and nature took him (and his reluctant daughter) on all sorts of adventures. We once crashed a wedding while searching for a desert monastery in Abiquiu New Mexico, and learned how Jamaicans celebrated Christmas in Port Royal. We were always in search of the perfect Key Lime pie or a rare gargoyle he learned of while researching Cathedrals to photograph. While my adventures have been much more mundane since he’s been gone, there is nothing that lights my board so much as an adventure, whether grand or small.
Reaching out and embracing life again and again with gratitude, curiosity, compassion and a sense of adventure restores life’s richness, brings peace and fills the heart with joy.