helpgrowchange

Being an unlikely source of inspiration

Although I aspire to be an inspiration, try to help people solve their problems and write articles for this blog, it's just weird (and extremely humbling) when I hear how I am looked to for inspiration or guidance.

I'm just a guy trying my best to be the best I can be. I don't expect adoring fans or monetary donations or my name to be tattooed across butt cheeks. I just want to help.

It brings me great joy seeing the smile on someone's face after they've taken up a suggestion I made. It is fantastic to see how they find life just a bit easier, or are making a difference because of a conversation we had.

But it's not just about seeing what I've had a hand in, it's about helping others and how happy they are.

Helping others helps you

There is a TED talk by Michael Norton (watch it here) in which he talks about a study conducted around how you can buy happiness.

The study gave a little money to a number of people and asked them to spend it on themselves or spend it on someone else. After all sorts of measurements, it was found that when the subjects spent the money on someone else, they were 'happier'.

This is how I feel when helping you.

Thank you for having faith in me. Thank you for trusting in me enough to want to improve your life.

Follow your own advice

Every 2nd post I see on Facebook or Twitter is about self-advice. Articles and headlines such as "5 things for a better 2017", "Be kind", "13 things to stop doing to achieve greatness" clutter my newsfeed.

At first, I think Wow, so many people are bettering themselves. And then 2 minutes later they're posting crap again, or carrying on with their lives while not changing a thing.

How is your life going to get any better if you don't change anything?

"Nothing changes if nothing changes."

(Best. Quote. Ever.)

What seems to happen is people read these fanciful quotes and smile at some or other inspirational picture, have a brief thought about "yeah that's nice", and then they do nothing.

Nothing at all.

The next day they're complaining about some crap in their lives that they wouldn't be complaining about if they followed their own advice – the advice they shared on social media just yesterday.

Stand by what you say and put it out to the world.

Take control of your life.

Decide to make the change and own it till it's done.
(Or at least own up when you change tact again, but that’s a whole other post.)

It’s ok to be selfish sometimes

Remember the time when you took a few hours for yourself? That time when you did want you wanted to do? Left the children with the partner, or the house chores for just a little while? It was probably ages ago, right?

I think it’s about time you did something for yourself.

All these years you’ve given pieces of yourself to your partner, your children, work, the house. It’s been a never-ending maelstrom of ‘things that need to get done’. You’ve organised lives and ensured everything and everyone else is ok.

Everyone but yourself.

I think it’s time to change that. It’s time for you to rediscover yourself. It’s time to immerse yourself in activities that you want to do like crafting, going for a walk, or learning a new skill.

The household will do fine without you for a couple of hours. I promise.

Your family won’t think less of you. In fact, you might find the opposite. Because you’re taking time for yourself, you will begin to feel refreshed. As you accomplish your own personal goals, your confidence and self-esteem will increase. You will be happier with yourself, and in turn, this happiness will overflow into other areas of your life – like your partner, the children, and the house.

You will find that everyone else who you’ve been looking after for all this time can actually look after themselves (for a little while at least) – taking further pressure off you in which you felt you had the need to do everything now.

So, what’s it going to be today? Mop the floors or begin that new online course you purchased a week ago?

Apparently, it’s not that simple

After my wife read this post, we had a ‘healthy discussion’. It revolved around how being selfish is not as simple as I make it out to be. Her argument was that there is ‘Dad’s life’ and ‘Mom’s life’. And this solution of mine appears simple to me because I live a ‘Dad’s life’ where everything is done for me while I go about my business.

My argument with this statement is that there is only a difference between the two because someone chooses for it to be that way.

With a change in the way we think, a bit of planning, and some changes to the family schedule – we can fit anything in.

The point I’m trying to make in this article is that if a choice is made to do some self-improving activity, take action on it, work with your partner and give your family a chance.

No matter what might, or might not get done, you deserve to do what you want to do.

(and yes, my wife and I have ‘agreed to disagree’ on this point 🙂 )

Picking up past projects

I read an interesting article the other day about how Isaac Asimov could write as much as he did. One of the main points that struck me was how he wouldn't stay "stuck" on any one thing. If he did feel like he was stuck, he'd simply move on to another project he had on the pile.

With my renewed focus on writing and planning some future pieces, I decided to look through my unfinished projects to see if anything came up. This snippet of a fictional story I started about 2 years ago stuck out, which I think you might find quite interesting.

I would love to know what you think?

Sam couldn’t wait to get out of the soaking rain and into the air-conditioned train. She couldn’t handle the rain matting her hair and ruining the collar of her favourite work blouse. Once aboard the train, she located a row near the back of the carriage where a tired looking, dark haired man sat by the left window, trying to fall asleep. An old man in a beige trench coat sat at the right window. She decided to sit next to the old man, thinking that she wouldn’t have to contend with snoring, or awkward positioning from the potential sleeper leaning over in his sleep.

Sam usually didn’t mind sleeping passengers on her commute, she just didn’t feel like it today. She had had a rough night with her toddler. He had come down with a fever yesterday and tended to overreact when he wasn’t well. After being woken up throughout the night, Sam was not in the mood to contend with discomfort.

“Good morning," said the old man with a smile as she sat beside him. Wow, what a voice, she thought to herself. She smiled and replied, “and to you”. “You look a little tired this morning, bad night?” he continued. Soothing, like honey on a warm slice of toast. “Yeah, my 3-year-old son is sick, and has a tendency to keep the household awake.” “That’s a shame,” he said. “I remember when my boy was that age. He would be very similar to your son.”

A crystal-clear image of a young boy emerged in her mind. This man’s voice. It’s rapturous. Why do I have such a perfect image in my head? The man continued with his resonating, pure voice “He would cry and cry. In his eyes, his mother was the only person who could comfort him”.

Just then, Sam was sure she heard a crying child – softly, almost as if it was at the far end of the train. The crying died down to a whimper, and a mother’s soft soothing murmur could be heard. Out the corner of her eye, Sam thought she saw a woman sitting in the empty seat across the aisle. She rocked gently, whispering soothing words in this child's ear. But when she turned to look, there was nothing. What the hell? She shook her head telling herself that the lack of sleep must be playing with her head.

The dark-haired, sleepy passenger across the aisle opened his eyes as Sam was watching. He glanced at the seat beside him, just where Sam's vision had been, shrugged his body uncomfortably, and closed his eyes again. Did he notice it too? Surely not, she thought.

Who is the old man? Why is his voice so captivating? Did Sam really see the woman and child?

Intriguing, I think I might just carry on this little project.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this snippet. 🙂

My family’s health and cherishing every moment

My friend has Hydrocephalus. I cannot begin to understand how hard it must be to live with something like that or any other debilitating condition.

I know of someone else who’s child suffered leukaemia, another person who’s wife is suffering cancer, and I’ve also worked with people who have keeled over with a heart attack or were killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.

These events and conditions of people that I am close to (and converse with on a daily basis) bring me to think about my own life and the health of my little family – and just how lucky and sheltered we are.

There is just no time to waste in our lives.

Every moment should be cherished.

But it’s not that easy, is it? Life gets in the way. Children whine, and bad customer service ruins our days.

It’s simply impossible to breathe in the moment all day, every day. I feel it, and I’m sure you do too. Everywhere on the Internet nowadays, we are being bombarded about mindfulness and embracing the Present. I struggle to do this all day.

What I have found, though, is if I consciously take a couple of minutes first thing in the morning and when lying in bed before I go to sleep, I find myself growing to appreciate a whole lot more in my life.

Make a conscious effort twice a day

In the morning I really concentrate on my first sip of water. I feel it across my tongue and travel down to my stomach. How the cold spreads across my chest. I truly try to appreciate that I am able to afford this drink and am able-bodied enough to lift it to my mouth.

I take just another moment to really feel grateful that all I needed to do was turn the tap and water filled my glass. I didn’t have to fight for it or walk 3kms or even boil it first.

Try it for a week. You might surprise yourself.

Then, just before sleeping, I tend to rewind my day through my head and highlight about 3 things I’m grateful for that happened. They are not always ‘big’ things.

Remember, it’s the small things that can be the most important.

For example, I might be grateful that we could afford a healthy dinner (and that my wife loves cooking healthy dinners ), or that I got a window seat on the train to the office, or that my house is still standing after the earthquake we had today.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to follow these articles plastered all over the Internet saying you have to do it all the damn time. Just take a little of your time each day to acknowledge just how lucky you are.

What I fear the most

What is it that you fear the most? Heights? Spiders? Being rejected? I fear looking stupid in front of other people. Yeah, I’m hesitant of heights, can’t touch any animal with 6 legs or more (or no legs for that matter), but the one that really keeps me in my shell is embarrassment.

This is usually encompassed in activities such as dancing, being silly, or attracting attention in public. I don’t know what it is, but there is just a mental block when it comes to doing something in public.

I’ll go crazy and use dancing as an example.

Dancing is ok if I’m performing the minimal side-to-side stepping, but anything more and I risk looking like an idiot. My two-footed failed jive will be the laughing stock of the dance floor. The legend of my drunken-like stumble will grow. I’ll be laughed at for years to come.

I know it is stupid to think this, I guess that is why it’s called an irrational fear, right?

Just saying that out loud sounds stupid. In other areas of my life I push to challenge myself – I take opportunities at the office, I randomly navigate new ways to a destination using my gut for direction, I show my true self through this blog for all the Internet to see.

Yet, I still can’t bust a simple move on the dance floor, or risk being generally silly in public. I must look composed and professional at all times.

I don’t think it’s a neurotic fear, one that will make me freeze up or pass out. I believe it’s just one of those things that I have just never been comfortable with, and over time it has developed into a fear.

There are those unfortunate people that have real, life threatening fears. The type that cause heart failure or worse. The fears in those people seem to be more deeply rooted in their souls. You can feel the fear emanating from them when they are faced with it.

It can be scary watching people when they are faced with their true worst fears. It is so unpredictable as to what they will do or how they will react. Are they going to freak out and run? Are they simply going to faint? Or will they confront it?

Human nature is unpredictable at best.

I really should confront my ‘fears’ before they really do grow into these gripping fears that will freeze me up, and not be able to react when the time is required. I wouldn’t want to be caught in a life or death situation and freeze up due to a stupid fear I have.

I’m lazy, though, and will probably not tackle these fears until absolutely required. That will be to my own detriment, I understand that.

But what is a guy to do?

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