Wherever I go I meet people telling me that they wish they were in my shoes. For me, my shoes are not as comfy as they think they are, but who am I to tell them that they are gravely wrong.
So I go through life, observe other shoes, and reciprocally wish to be in them rather than in my own. Why? Simply because it is in human nature to envy what you don’t have or what you aren’t.
One day I decided to quit this unhealthy habit of mine.
I started to observe my life, my actions and intentions, and tried to be grateful for what I have. My perception shift led to some interestingly revealing facts, that otherwise would have escaped my notice. As an English teacher I got the chance to contribute in shaping young minds, as a Business English lecturer I had the opportunity to learn from my adult students as much as I thought, as a university lecturer I experienced how it is to stand on the other side of the desk, as an English teacher for Spanish children I appreciated the wonders of sharing mutual linguistic background, as a writer I met the Holy Lady of Inspiration but I also stumbled upon the infamous Writer’s Block.
I experienced a lot, and people like stories about exploration, exciting places, meeting new people and developing own business. They like to hear heroic tales of people who made a difference or at least made an attempt to do so. If they hear a story of a failure they nod with understanding and resume to their daily habits with a sigh of relief that their life is marked by stability, but when they hear a story of success they look at the sky and tell whatever Heavenly Being they believe in that they do not bear grudge for their own misery but “God, how come that my life is so boring…”
We complain about boring, but the fact is that we like it. Boring is safe, familiar. It does not require from us any unnecessary and possibly dangerous actions to be taken. This is why people often choose to merely observe progress of some endeavour exactly for the sake of safety. They do not have to invest their time, feelings nor effort; they prefer to see the outcome and be able to gossip about it, purposefully avoiding uncomfortable topic of the whole path leading to its achievement.
Making a difference is not as difficult as starting to work hard on making it happen. Change is not instant, and I am of belief that this fact is the biggest demotivator that keeps people from even trying. Our contemporary times cherish all that is hectic, we live in a cult of instant: Learn Spanish in 3 months, 5 quick tips to make your love life better, boost your income within a week, lose 10 kg in 5 days… we are bombarded with messages that promise us perfect solutions that are almost immediate. Obviously we do not believe all this crap, after all, we are intelligent human beings… But our brain sensors are so used to being drowned in the flood of instant solutions that long-term change is just unacceptable. We are accustomed to quick results; waiting makes people impatient.
And I don’t blame people. I’m as impatient as a person can be. My mother always told me that someday my feverish character will set fire to something. I always saw it pejoratively, I thought she meant to hurt my feelings and accuse me of being irresponsible, but I grew to see it as my chance to develop my own self and people around me in order to infect them with overwhelming love of life, to help them see that improving your life with your own actions is worth your while since it brings many profits. You cannot wait until someday some Gandalf will knock on your door and invite you to an adventure. ‘Somebody is you and someday is now,’ as we learn from a motivational speech of Principal John Tapene whose goal was to energize teenagers to engage in life as vigorously as they can. He also said that ‘the world does not owe [us] a living,’ we have to start being response-able people who can take matters in our own hands and start fighting the best fight ever: own life.
After all, isn’t it how all those great biographies started?
Joanna Niechajowicz is a freelance writer who has recently started a struggle with developing a blog devoted to self-improvement (http://upwardswirl.wordpress.com/). You can also follow her on Twitter.