Very often, when I arrive at a new place I curiously look around at the unfamiliar people’s faces trying to make out their personality and qualities in order to detect the most optimistic and vital people. I pay attention to their clothing, their facial expressions, their smile and the way they look around and make contact with others.
I notice how the hardships of life have carved wrinkles of tiredness on people’s faces. Too many people “survive life” rather than live life.
The countless tasks of everyday life wear us out and drain us from our vitality, our fun and our most fundamental sense of life joy.
We are often preoccupied with financial, health and career issues, as well as everyday problems which prevent us from enjoying the essence of life and its beauty.
Along the many years of teaching adolescents, I've always been astounded at their endless vitality, their creativity, their emotional force, life joy and their fundamental happiness and wonder how adults have lost all these along the way…
Is it because of our work? Family relations? Exigent kids? Strenuous routine? The burden of the mortgage and other financial problems? Exasperating bureaucracy? Obviously, all answers are correct and unfortunately, there are many other unpleasant factors which shape our adult life, but the outcome is the same in all cases: at one point or another, we all become weary, worn out and weakened. The spark of life in our eyes has vanished.
Allow me to take a pause from my personal outlook and focus on a wider historical, social and research-based point of view, through which I would like to convey my idea. Historical research have established the knowledge that there is no longer one single historical “truth”, but rather multiple historical “stories” or narratives related from different points of view.
As a science, History seeks to interpret sequences of events and facts so that eventually, one predominant, collective and hegemonic narrative (accepted as mainstream) is formed.
Alongside, other “stories” created by marginal groups offer a critical interpretation of the predominant narrative questioning its truths and fundamental assertions. Minority groups, women, homosexuals and other social marginal groups undermine the predominant narrative by introducing “new players” in the arena (well-known figures and facts) that so far have been silenced and oppressed both socially and politically.
The realization that our reality is not objective but rather subjective and that it is experienced by us through our own point of view is fundamental.
Anyone could interpret the same reality differently or even oppositely.
The way we interpret reality and the significance and associations we attach to the different events in our life largely determines our feelings, thoughts and consequently, our life quality. Let’s take for example, the way we deal with failure.
Some people will regard failure as a painful and distressing event.
It will put them in a gloomy mood, depress them for a couple of days (in worse cases, for a longer period of time), and hurt their self-esteem and self-confidence.
On the other hand, the optimist will regard failure as a mishap. Moreover, he will “learn his lesson” through analysis of events and by drawing the right conclusions.
He will turn failure into a new challenge, an opportunity to do things differently and more creatively.
He would probably tell himself: “If I had done nothing, obviously, I wouldn’t have failed” or “If I didn’t make mistakes along the way and didn’t experience failure, it would mean that I haven’t done enough to succeed”. Undoubtedly, such approach is likely to encourage him to develop his creativity and seek a new course of action.
The optimist will always look beyond the temporary failure. Failure and hardships are an essential part of any process of growth, improvement, advancement and becoming more professional in any field.
Too many people live with constant guilt feelings.
This is usually a result of education and social norms which set the accepted standards and dictate the "proper" way to behave.
We all act according to social and cultural codes in different circles of our life.
Yet, many of us feel we don't meet these expectations or criteria imposed to us socially, economically and professionally.
Once we get rid of these norms and make up our minds to act according to our conscience and heart, according to our inner truth, things will get easier and we will probably succeed in the life path we choose.
Many judge themselves and others according to the "life code" which dictates how one should behave, what one should say and in which situations, etc…Once we realize that such code is the product of our imagination, and that we should only be committed to our happiness and inner truth, we are likely to feel lighter and relieved from guilt feelings.
Many of us will then discover that our human conscience and intuitions are far more valuable and preferable to social or any other kind of norms.
The moment we cease to fear being different or unique, we can find happiness.
Sometimes we have the feeling that there is a small bothering creature behind our back observing and judging every move we make or every word we say.
Only when we stop thinking about this imaginative creature that ties us down, will we be able to feel free.
"Freedom" is an abstract notion that most of us have lost along the way due to our several commitments: to family, work, friends … However, these commitments are part of our life.
Freedom means to be free to feel the widest range of emotions, to live free of guilt feelings, of fear or pressure. It's to feel security, joy and peace of mind.
If we could stop our daily rat race once or twice a day, we would realize that our happiness is around the corner.
The change in our life will occur the moment we convince ourselves that what matters most is our feeling of happiness and freedom. Let's start loving ourselves now, let's find people around us who love themselves. If to date we have resented them, now it's time to change our approach and imitate them. Let's put ourselves in first place before all our tasks and commitments.
It will make life simpler, easier and more pleasant and it will help us stop the crazy race trying to please everybody around us.
It's not selfishness but a necessity in such a demanding world we live in, if we want to maintain our physical and emotional health.
Let's remember that "salvation" can only come from within and not from any external factor. Let's preserve ourselves, our soul, our health and life joy!!