It was a cold morning in early
I had a very sophisticated morning routine that consisted of taking a shower and having a cup of instant coffee. Next, I walked for about thirty minutes to get to my place of work. In this half an hour, I was learning English language, by listening and repeating short stories about pretty much anything. Other times, I was simply talking to myself. Every now and then, I’d receive an odd look from strangers passing by. I worked at a factory every day, standing next to a machine and cutting plastic extensions. It wasn’t the most pleasant job, but I had no choice but to learn to enjoy it.
I began to wonder how I could turn things around in my life.
I noticed that I was enjoying the tiny things like having a half-price pizza on Tuesday or just the fact that I had a chance to better myself. I guess it was then when I began listening to audiobooks like crazy. I really wanted to believe that my future could be better and I started dreaming about what then seemed to be impossible for me. You may think that there’s nothing special about dreaming — everyone does that — but for me, it was the hardest thing to do. My mind was consumed by negative and self-destructive thinking. The act of dreaming was like evoking mental pain and discomfort.
Later, I got into a ritual of going the seaside almost every day. There, we had a small and very old pier. I would sit there until I would get cold, thinking about what I’d like to change in my life. Different positive images were coming to me easier there, as I could quiet my mind when I was by the sea.
Life is 100%. Not less, not more.
Why do so many of us fall and get stuck into a trap of feeling bad about ourselves or our lives?
By default, life is 100% of goodness.
You can’t make it worse or better. It is what it is. And those who try to underestimate their own life turn out to feel depressed and not worthy of it because they deny what it truly is. A simple truth that life is… (feel the gap).
The trouble comes when we blur the line between what life is and what life situation we’re in. You see, there’s a very big difference between your current situation and your life. For example, you might be stuck in a job you don’t enjoy anymore, you may have just got divorced, you could’ve lost your job, or multiple events have happened which have made you question the quality of your life. If you’re like most people, you’d take these events seriously. You’d wonder why the the hell it was all happening to you.
But what you’re going to do next determines everything.
Do you slip away and start blaming yourself, others, or the situation? Do you feel regret? Do you deny all that happened? If yes, then you’re certainly confusing life with your life situation. And the longer you’re remaining confused, the worse it becomes, and the less chance you give yourself to actually get up and start working on things.
Recently, I listened to an incredible audiobook by Robert Greene, called The Laws of Human Nature. The author talks about the life of Anton Chekhov, a well-known Russian playwright, and how it was full of events which could have torn him apart and turned him into a depressed and desperate man. But despite his childhood traumas, life-long difficulties, and his deadly illness, he remained calm and kept a positive attitude towards life. He believed that we are in control of the interpretation of our own life events, and so strived to live according to this notion. In a letter to his troubled older brother, Chekhov wrote a piece of life advice which consisted of eight qualities every civilised person should possess. I believe this is especially relevant in this age of social media which, when not used properly, can confuse the hell out of you and make you feel like your life is a desperate effort for survival.
“Everything should be first-rate in a person, his face, clothes, soul and thoughts.”Anton Chekhov
It’s simply a habit
Look, almost everything we do as human species, including the stuff we think about, can be summarised into one word: habit. The reason I decided to make going to a pier a daily ritual is because I felt it allowed me to slow down and observe what I thought about and what I felt about what I thought. And that’s been the key to making the first step towards changing the way I felt about myself.
I’ve learned that change can only be initiated inside of me and not through the world’s validation. And it’s also a habit of seeking something that doesn’t exist in the lives of other people. A sort of confirmation that we’re good enough (feel the gap) when in reality, it creates the opposite effect. Without strength of the mind, we unconsciously compare, judge, and criticise, and God knows what goes through our heads when we scroll through our Instagram feed.
But how do we get over it? To answer this, you’d need to look at how you get over everything else in life. For example, how do you get over things like bad weather, a poor wi-fi signal, or being late for a bus? If you’re a sane human being, you’d realise that these ‘Firstorld Problems’ are nothing in comparison to what’s happening in most parts of the world, where having a glass of clean water is almost impossible. You’re lucky you were even born — think about it!
Similarly, think about yourself . How you dare to compare yourself to others and then wonder why you feel shit. And why, when bad things happen, you react to them like a tired toddler, crying because of s slight change of air temperature. Back in 2010, if I was to allow myself to think that living next to a cemetery, speaking no English, and working at a factory was my ultimate destiny then I wouldn’t be able to share this story with you.
Don’t be ignorant to yourself.
Compassion and gratitude for what it is, regardless of any situation, can open up a new perspective. And with its help, just like Anton Chekov, we’ll have a better chance to be present and to not overreact to everything that’s happening around us.