The first thing I saw this morning as I powered on my laptop was this prompt. Although I see it everyday, it reminded me of an intense conversation I had last week with a friend about his life and how it is not what he wants it to be. There are two ways you can go with discussions like this, one is to listen and nod and say things like, “yeah, it sucks” or the other is to listen and shake your head and say, “change it.”
I’m not sure which is better. Although most of us believe our lives are good, occasionally it feels differently and that’s when you need a cocktail, a couch and some friends. It matters in those occasions to try to give some perspective but not a lot -- yes it’s true that being grateful is the best way to go but when you’re tired of having no personal space on the Long Island Railroad, it doesn’t help to be reminded of all the people in the world who sleep twelve to a bed. Besides comparing your lot to those less fortunate begs the question - Who are we to decide who is less or more fortunate? After all, happiness is relative.
The second approach, the “get off your ass and do something about it” is a little bit harder, especially if your friend is not looking for that kind of kick. People who need to vent don’t generally want solutions (ask any woman who has ever had to say to a man, “I don’t want you to fix my problems, just to listen to them!) If you’re fixer (like me) this is hard. I want to make it better – that’s my nature.
I’m not sure what the boundary is between listening and kicking someone in the butt. In my own life I am grateful for both as my process for change begins with venting, grows into disgust at the sound of my own complaining and evolves into making a change. I have always had a low tolerance for being unhappy for long stretches of time. This combined with my “fix it” quality eventually gets me moving in the right direction.
What is the right direction? Well it starts with being willing to change. Sounds simple but it can be hard. There are reasons you got to where you are and while some of those reasons may be easily understood some may be complex and require you to take a peak into that vast wondrous abyss of your past. You might have to slay a few dragons to get unstuck.
Here’s the good news, you can’t and don’t have to do it on your own. In fact, I strongly advise you not to. My theory is, if you’re a smart person and have had a problem for longer than you care to remember and haven’t been able to resolve it, you need help. Yes you need friends to support you but you need more than that. You need coaching, counseling, advice, whatever it takes to get you where you need to go. Oh and you need the courage to do it.
If you don’t know what you want, start with what you don’t want and go from there but do something! Gather all the resources at your disposal (remember the part about you being a smart person?) and solicit advice, ask questions, dig deep, slay the dragon.
Like the dawn of every new day and the humming of the computer booting up, change is constant and is necessary. We are the stories we tell, so tell a different story. I challenge you -- start now. Consider this your kick in the butt.