Today, I came across this picture and a video on the amazing YouTube channel Pick Up Limes and both reminded me of something that I really struggle with and as this blog was created so that I could open up a little more and maybe even inspire or help some other people, I figured I should maybe write a little bit about it.
Today is a gift
Maybe you have already read or heard the phrase `Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mistery, today is a gift, that´s why it´s called The Present´. I love it because it reminds me every time of how useless all the negative thoughts are that occupy my mind. Surely, many people can identify with that picture at the beginning, even though the thoughts that continually distract us from being present might be very different.
My personal problem is that I think too much about the future, that my mind is always making plans, always expecting me to do more and more. I can never really appreciate when I have achieved something. Maybe I have broken a habit that made me feel bad or finished a work-intensive project for school or I have learned about a completely new topic because of a good book or an online course. But somehow, I cannot appreciate that. I admire all the people who get things done, who set themselves a goal and achieve it, however I never notice when I do that myself. My mind is constantly occupied with finding the next challenge, the next project, the next big piece of work. The thought always is: `If I do this, then I will finally feel like I am good enough´.
If I do this…then I will finally feel like I am good enough
However, no matter what I do, I never get that feeling. On the one hand, that is because I compare myself with others, particularly with other people who are about my age who already reach and inspire so many people, who seem to have a big impact and at the same time to be completely at peace with themselves. In comparison to that, I sometimes feel like my life does not make sense, like what I do will never have a big and positive enough impact to `pay back´ the world for having allowed me to be here.
Maybe all of this sounds crazy to you, maybe even unthankful for all the opportunities I have. And I get it. It is just very hard to fight those negative thoughts and feelings. They are like a big, dark wave that swallows everything positive. Maybe some others can identify with what I have just described and I hope that, with this blog post, I can make you feel a little bit less alone and a little more important.
No matter if you are constantly distracted by thoughts about the future, like I am, or by thoughts about the past, you might wish to let go of them, to be more present and more thankful for every moment. Very often nowadays, on the internet, people present to you these solutions that are supposed to work wonders on every single one of us. That is not how it works. We are all very different when it comes to how and where we find happiness, but I think we all want to find it. And if you are like me, you want a list of things to do, and a schedule for exactly when to do what and you want the entire `recipe for happiness´ to work as fast as possible.
I am only now starting to realise that that is not how it is going to work, that I am not going to be happy if I establish the `perfect´ routine, including waking up ridiculously early, doing yoga, eating a bunch of berries, reading a huge load of books in different languages even though I might not even like the story, and at the same time squeezing in as much school work, online courses and voluntary work as possible. Even though doing some of these things might make you or me feel really good about ourselves, what is important is that we actually want to do them, that we feel like they bring value to our lives. An that is what I never understood over the past couple of years where I stubbornly tried to improve myself while actually ruining my happines.
I have always been a planner and an organiser and I could never help looking at the clock every ten minutes to make sure I was on schedule. And the sad thing about this was, that I was doing it even on the weekends or during the holidays, that all the things I `had to do´ were things that I forced upon myself and that I often did not enjoy them in the slightest. I do enjoy reading, learning languages, and informing myself about sustainability and the environment. But I also enjoy dancing, spending time with family and friends and going on walks. The effect of my obsession with becoming `good enough´ was that I forced myself to spend so much time doing certain things that I had at some point enjoyed that they started frustrating me and making me sad. At the same time, I was completely neglecting other things that bring me joy, like spending time with my family or dancing.
`Follow your heart´ might be hackneyed, but nothing could be more true
Eventually, all of this brought me to the point where I am now and I can honestly tell you that I am exhausted and do not at all feel like I am good enough or happy. Over the past months, I have stopped doing what I enjoyed and what I felt like doing and replaced it with a strict routine and schedule that have only made me feel less significant and less valuable.
What I am planning to do to get my mindfulness, my positivity, my love for life back is to start spending my days without constantly looking at the clock and with doing exactly what I feel will bring me joy in that moment. If you find yourself in a similar situation as me, I want to tell you that I understand, that I know how hard it can be to have all these expectations for yourself. We might not know each other but if we share this feeling of never being good enough, this feeling of emptiness and insignificance, we share a very heavy burden and we can try to overcome it together.
Try spending some time not looking at the clock, your schedule, or social media. Spend some time with yourself and with the people you love doing the things you love. Go outside, dance like nobody is watching, laugh and read a book or watch a movie you love. Life is too precious and too beautiful to be spent with toxic thoughts. YOU are too precious and too beautiful to let life slip through your fingers as fast as it often does without having enjoyed the little but meaningful moments.
I know it is hard sometimes to let go of all the negative thoughts that occupy our minds, whether they are about the past or the future. In this blog post, I have tried to open up a little, to tell you about my problem with always thinking that I am not good enough, that whatever I do will never suffice to have a big, positive impact and to make me happy. Some of you might be able to relate to that, others might more often be occupied with thoughts and regrets from the past. What we all have in common is that our minds make us forget about the present, about the beautiful things that are happening right in front of us and that we can be a part of. If we think too much about what we want to do or who we want to be in the future, we might miss ever having a real future at all, one in which we feel alive, loved and important. I see that the conclusion is getting way too long again ´:), so I am going to try to finally put it in a nutshell. I know it can be hard, but what is important is that you understand that you have to stop using the phrase `If I do this…I´ll be happy´ because if you do not, you will continue to waste your time with expectations for yourself that make you feel inferior and sad. Spend the moments of the present in a way that brings you joy now, not in a way that you think will at some point lead to happiness but that makes you sad now. You will be able to have an impact, to be a part of positive change, if you stop making plans for it and start today, as small as that start may be. Because remember: You may be small, but you are not insignificant!