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Life’s Little Problem – Always Full, Never Complete

Life’s Little Problem – Always Full, Never Complete

Sometimes I don’t understand what my problem is; I always just want something more from life. I don’t know what I want and I don’t know why I want it, but I’m never really satisfied, not for long anyway. It’s like I’m frantically rushing to catch life’s flight, afraid that I’ll miss it, but I don’t really know what flight is it that I need to catch and I don’t know which airport it takes off from!

This need for more starts pretty early. In school it’s the marks –should be higher than the next guy, in college it’s the looks – should be better than the next guy, at work it’s the compensation package – should be fatter than the next guy. Life as a whole, well, has to be fuller than the next guy. Has to be at that maximum level of everything, but somehow, even when you reach that maximum, you start worrying about a new maximum, it doesn’t end.

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Sure, wanting more is a good thing, ambition makes the world progress, but why is there always this feeling of discontentment? Striving for the best is great, but why does it come with a constant restlessness and fear of missing out?

Why is life always so full, but never fully complete?

You know who is complete? A 5 year old child, just take a look at one – raucous  screaming, clothes in disarray, dirt on the face, running about stepping on people’s toes and making them jump (my toes still hurt from the one who stepped on mine today). So effortlessly complete. Doesn’t need to get anything, doesn’t need to be anyone. We were all there at a point in time, and then somewhere between 5 and 15, we became incomplete.

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We were taught that we need to do extra, to achieve extra, to stay ahead – but even as we learnt ambition, no one seems to have noticed that we also learnt that ‘we are not enough’. The more we learnt about all the things we needed to do and be, we also unlearnt how to love ourselves as we are. Even as we learnt to be at the top of everything, we forgot how to accept ourselves when we are not at the top.

We all learnt social etiquette, but we never learnt how to treat our own selves

I wonder, among all the math lessons we were taught, why didn’t they knock off one of those barely survivable trigonometry lessons and teach us how to love ourselves. Honestly, we need to spend some time on this one – ‘How to love the person you will spend the rest of your life with’ – guess who – YOU!

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People write a hundred odes to unconditional undying love for partners, for parents, for children, for friends, for animals – why not an ode to unconditional self love. We celebrate the fact that we can love the people in our lives irrespective of their flaws but we cannot even bring ourselves to accept our own flaws…leave alone love ourselves despite them. Of the hours and hours we spend obsessing over whether ‘XYZ’ likes us, we don’t even dedicate a minute to asking whether we like ourselves.

If we were to take all the adults on earth and give them a test on self acceptance and love – more than half the world would be sitting in detention trying to make up credit for the subject they just flunked!

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As long as we are failing at that subject, no matter how much we stuff our life and make it overflow with success and social recognition, our discontentment and need for more will not go. We will keep looking for that external validation – something out there that will help us feel like we have done everything we need to do, proven everything that we need to prove. Well, there is nothing out there and we know it. If in our heads we are not good enough, we will never feel good enough. One could win the Nobel Prize and feel great for a few days until that voice in the head starts whining again – do extra, achieve extra, stay ahead – you are not good enough!

The fact is simple enough – all we need, to be complete, is a little bit of love, to give to ourselves. A little acceptance for being average, even as we strive for the best. A little kindness towards our own failures even as we pursue success. All it needs really, is to look in the mirror every once in a while and say “Well lousy fellow, you need to stop lazing around, you need to stop messing up, you really need to stop skipping gym and eating those donuts – and – I love you.”

Featured photo credit: www.consciouslifestylemag.com via consciouslifestylemag.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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