Why you Should Be Thankful for your Difficulties

How many times have you found yourself cursing for all the bad fortune around you? How many times did you wonder why something had to happen to you? Did you feel sorry for yourself at the time?

If you ask me I would have to answer that it has happened many times. Yes, I have gone through some really hard times in my life. I remember myself crying, complaining to others, feeling sorry for myself for what I had to go through and wondering what I had done wrong to deserve all this bad fortune.

Anyway, I am sure I am not the only one. Actually, I am sure most of you have gone through hard times. Different experiences, different situations, different problems but you went through something. Even if you didn’t, you will. Count on it!

Feeling Bad for Your Difficulties is Normal

Sometimes we might be the victims in one situation and we might deserve, or even seek for understanding and sympathy from others. That is absolutely normal and understood. This is a human need.

“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”

Maya Angelou

Feeling bad when a new difficulty comes our way is normal. Difficulties are in fact challenges that shake our world and make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes people around us understand how hard this must be to us and even encourage us to continue feeling bad and sorry about ourselves.

Man sitting down on a chair feeling sad

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But, does the fact that our bad response to difficulties is understandable by ourselves and others actually help us?

Don’t get me wrong. We all understand that facing difficulties makes us feel uncomfortable and of course there is no reason to feel happy about it. Doing so would mean that we lose the whole point. That we overlook the problem, show denial and even feel some kind of toxic positivity. None of them is helpful in any way.

Difficulties will Never Stop

One thing is for sure. No matter how much we want to, no matter what we do, we can never avoid difficulties from coming into our lives. One way or another we always have challenges to deal with.

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We have no choice whether we will face them or not because we just cannot escape from them. The only choice we have is how we will choose to deal with them when they show up.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Winston Churchill

Some people choose to step away as much as possible, choose to play the victim, don’t deal with them nor search for a solution.

Some others choose to face the difficulty, embrace the new experience, understand the feelings generated while doing so and grow themselves through this.

Everyone has a choice to make.

You might also want to read “What is the right decision and how to be sure you make one” or “How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”

Barack Obama

Why Facing Difficulties is Important

1. Helps us Become more Self-aware

Going through difficulties helps us to understand ourselves better. We come in touch with our feelings, our true needs and internal strength. We understand who we are, where we are, what we are doing and what we are capable of.

“Expecting difficulties is wise, if that usually gives you the strength to continue, and foolish, if that usually takes away the courage to begin.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

2. Inspire Gratitude

When a difficulty appears we have the chance to appreciate everything we have and we were not paying enough attention to. Difficulties sometimes are a good wakeup call to understand all those we are missing when they are just right there but we are far too busy to see.

Man feeling gratitude for life and difficulties

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“When you meet obstacles with gratitude, your perception starts to shift, resistance loses its power, and grace finds a home within you.”

Oprah Winfrey.

3. New Experiences – Chance for Personal Growth

Difficulties are new experiences through which we usually learn new things, grow wiser and stronger. Difficulties come our way and help us evolve to a better version of ourselves.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

Napoleon Hill

4. Identify / Appreciate the Easy

Going through something really difficult helps us to identify the easy when we see it. We will be able to understand when things will get better since they will be easier.

5. Teach Responsibility

To successfully deal with a difficulty we should take responsibility for our actions, our thoughts and our emotions towards it.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

Appreciate the Difficulties

Difficulties in life no matter how hard they are can work to our advantage. Identifying difficulties as challenges and seeing all the opportunities they can offer us can change our way through life. Situations and circumstances will no longer have the same power on us.

stormy day as difficulties in life

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Without difficulties and obstacles to overcome life would be a boring flat line. Life has everything, sunny days and stormy days, pleasure and suffering , beauty and pain. Surviving the stormy days of our life can only make us stronger and ready to enjoy the sunny days to the fullest.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

Haruki Murakami

Why Fear Is a Bad Motivation Choice

Has your boss ever threatened you that if you don’t do what it takes to get the job done you will be fired? Have you tried to quit smoking out of fear for your health? Have you ever started a strict diet because you were afraid of what your body would look like with these extra kilos?

If the answer to one of the questions above is yes this means that you have used fear as a motive for you to do something.

Fear is something normal and it is related to human nature. Actually, fear could be thought of as a defense mechanism that can alert us in case of possible danger.

If we see someone pointing a gun at us, fear would alert us to react in some way. We might for example scream, start running away, finding someplace to cover ourselves, attack the possible shouter or even freeze out of fear.

Although acting sometimes out of fear could turn out in a positive outcome, there are several other times that fear based motivation does not seem to work that good.

Fear Based Motivation in Workplace Environment

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Fear used to be a well-known practice in workplace environments, and in some cases it still is. It was a common belief that managers had to evoke fear in their employees in order to achieve better performance, faster and better results.

Employees out of fear of losing their job or being replaced to a specific position by someone else would strive themselves to make it happen. But what would the outcome be for an employee if he / she had to work constantly in an environment that is based in this kind of fear?

This kind of working environment is absolutely toxic and negative and nobody would be willing to spend his / her life in one. It is the kind of environment that actually inspires people to escape from.

This fear based tactics might provide short term results but long term the employees would be unhappy, full of stress and negativity and they will possibly deal with burnout. Fear could lead employees to panic, loss of their creativity and imagination and loss of their ability to learn.

Employees sooner or later would decide to explore their options and realize that there are also other choices available.

Unfortunately, hardly ever, employers understand that their tactic is wrong. They usually think that it was something that employees did wrong and that is why they decide to leave.

“There is a quarter century of research that shows how people feel at work has a direct and powerful influence on how they perform.”

Sigal Barsade

Fear Based Motivation for Better Health

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We all know stories of people who found out that their health is in danger if they continue smoking, continue having an unhealthy lifestyle, eating junk food and don’t exercising at all. In some cases they might even have had a near death experience, like a stroke or had to fight with cancer and finally recovered.

People who go through something like this, at least at the beginning, are passionate about changing their lifestyle and do what it takes to protect themselves. Out of fear of what might happen if they don’t they start exercising, watching after their diet and quit all their bad habits.

Fear in this case works as a motivator, and works well enough to start doing good things for themselves for few weeks or even months. But only that. Fear is an effective motivator for short term period while results only come long term.

Fear alone is not able to inspire motivation in long term and that is because fear when lasts for too long tires you and makes you want to give up on your goals.

Alternative Approaches to Fear Based Motivation

1. Hope

The “if you don’t do this you will get fired” could be easily replaced with “If you have this ready on time you might get a bonus – a raise – a promotion”. The first sentence evokes fear which results to negativity and stress. The second sentence evokes hope which results to positive emotions. Hope can breed happiness and confidence.

word hope written in caligraphic letters
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2. Love

 While fear might put you on the move to start something it will not help you keep going. Love on the other hand could prove to be the fuel that can keep the motive alive and help you keep moving. Quitting a bad habit because you love yourself and want the best for him is healthier than quitting it because you are afraid of a stroke, cancer or bad body looks.

woman doing heart sign indicating love
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3. Joy and Pleasure

Whatever it is that you use fear to motivate you try to find something that actually offers you joy and find pleasure in it. If the fear of bad health motivates you to exercise, find a form of exercise that you enjoy like dancing or even just walking. If you need to start eating healthier discover healthy foods that you like, yes there are some of those! 

Doing something out of fear or just because we have to will never offer us the passion needed to stay committed. Only if you start enjoying the changes in your life you will keep them long term.

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Conclusion

Fear is necessary to motivate you to protect yourself in case of danger, but fear is not a good motive when it comes to life goals or career goals. For long term goals fear based motivation sets you in a condition of constant fear and stress that could harm your body and mind.

Fear based motivation is strongly related to negative thinking. This means that is focused on the wrong thing or on what could go wrong. This kind of thinking prevents us from looking at the bright side of things, at what is right or what might go great.

We are afraid of the outcome while we could anticipate for it. Things might go wrong, but things might also go great. Why should we focus on the negative and not see the bigger picture instead?

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”

William James

If you liked this post you might also like to read my post about negative thoughts or my post on how to overcome fears.

I would like to read your thoughts on this. Have you ever used fear based motivation for a long term goal? How did it go?

inspirational quote about fears and dreams
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Stop Avoiding Your Negative Thoughts – Learn How To Handle Them

Are you one of those who often start thinking of the worst case scenario for every single thing? Do you sometimes think that others believe the worst about you? You think that everything is either black or white and there is nothing in between? Do you let small things bother you and think about them for hours, days or longer?

Well, if your answer was yes to some of the above questions then you have negative thoughts.

I know what you might say. Who is this person who doesn’t have any negative thoughts?

The answer is simple. Nobody.

We all have negative thoughts and that is absolutely normal.

The thing is that thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more than that.

Scientists and researchers would oppose this opinion since it has been proved that thoughts interfere with the way our brain works and cause us bad feelings and emotions. Yes, thoughts can be the reason behind lots of mental and physical problems in the end. I do not disagree with that. I even admit it as a fact.

woman on the floor embracing her knees due to negative thoughts
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Thoughts do live in our head and the bad thing is that sometimes we all spend more time living inside our heads than in real life.

Sometimes thoughts are just like feelings. They come and go and they may mean something or may mean nothing at all.

I don’t know about you but for me there are those days that I wake up in a really bad mood and I just don’t have the courage to have any positive thoughts. I don’t feel like lying to myself that this day is going to be a great day. I am in my blues but I know that this is just a day and not my life. I just accept the fact that these days exist and I watch my thoughts. Yes, even the negative ones.

Below are some of the things that I choose to do to cope with negative thoughts and may be helpful to you also. I am not a professional, so these are just my suggestions as a person who deals with negative thinking from time to time. In case your negative thoughts are persistent you should consider asking for professional help.

How to Handle Your Negative Thoughts

1. Accept the Thought

Do not try to avoid or push back your negative thought. Try to understand it and accept the feelings that this thought causes to you. Give this thought some time to stay with you and embrace the feelings that are caused by it. Even if it makes you feel sad or angry, feel the sadness or the anger for some time and let it go away. It is just a thought, there is no reason to stay with you forever.

2. Be Honest with Yourself

Do not try to force yourself to turn a negative thought into a positive one. Your mind is smart enough to realize that you are trying to play with it.

If it is one of those days that you feel like a loser and your thoughts are like “I am a total failure”, “I will never make it in anything” do not say “I am the best” or “Whatever I do is perfect”. It would be more honest to say “I am smart enough and I try my best and that is enough”.

Trying to stop a negative thought and turn it into a completely positive one could even have the worst results. In some cases people who try to push anxious and negative thoughts down only manage to build them stronger until they all explode or come rushing out at once.

3. Share your Thoughts

If you feel like a negative thought returns again and again try to share it with someone close to you. When we talk about something that lives in our head we have to let it come out in words. Even translating our thoughts into words and hearing them provides us with another perspective of them. Not to mention that someone close will also offer us his / her perspective.

4. Be Kind with Yourself

During the days you feel bad and your mind is full with negative thoughts try to be kind with yourself. Make yourself a priority, try to work less hours or less hard than usual. Choose to spend the rest of your day doing things that make you happy like playing with your children or watching a movie that makes you laugh. You name it!

woman and daughter playing and laughing
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5. Take Care of Yourself

This includes your physical and mental health. Watch your diet. Junk food is ok once in a while but making it a habit is not. Make sure you have enough sleep and find a way to work out that you actually enjoy. A healthy body makes us feel good and positive about ourselves, contributing to a better mental health.

6. Connect with the Right People

Make your small community of people the community you want to be a part of. Get rid of people who put you down or make you feel miserable. You don’t need toxic people. Keep your loved ones close, enroll in activities that offer you joy, join the team you always wanted to. Enjoy your life with those you want to.

group of people gathered around, a small community of multiethnic people
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Conclusion

Negative thoughts are normal. We all have them and there is no reason to be afraid of them or to try to prevent them. We cannot stop negative thoughts from coming or choose not to have them, but we can change the way we deal with them and what else we choose to think of. After all negative thoughts are just thoughts, we don’t have to believe them.

I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains“.

Anne Frank

How about you?

How do you feel about your negative thoughts?

How do you choose to deal with them?

How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

When something bad happens to you do you always think that it is someone else’s fault? Do you feel like no matter what you do you have no control over what is happening to you? Do you usually blame others or your bad fortune for every negative thing that happens?

From time to time we may all act like drama queens, feeling like the whole world is against us, seeking for attention and sympathy. However, there are some people that seem to adopt this kind of behavior and mentality permanently.

I recently found out that there is a term to describe this kind of mentality which is called the “Victim mentality”.

“Victim Mentality. Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances.”

Mark Manson

What is the Victim Mentality?

Woman almost crying while making negative thoughts
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This term is not officially accepted as a medical term and actually most health professionals even avoid the use of it due to the stigma surrounding it. However, there are specific beliefs that people with victim mentality share and all of them are related to negative thinking:

1.       Lots of bad things happened to you in the past and lots of bad things will also happen to you in the future.

2.       Your bad fortune is a result of other people’s actions.

3.       Trying to change your fortune is worthless since nothing will finally change.

Negativity is so much easier to people with a victim mentality than trying to actually take action to save themselves.

Experts claim that the root of this mindset is in many cases an old trauma experienced at the hands of others. People who have experienced something similar are instinctively taught that they are helpless and unable to change something through their actions.

They tend to feel vulnerable and afraid. They don’t take on responsibility, instead, they blame others and refuse to take action while they prefer making excuses.

“I have no physical symptoms, but psychologically there’s this burden. I’ve got to get rid of it somehow. Of course, when I first went back to work I was scared the same thing might happen again. It takes positive thinking to overcome fear, otherwise you’ll carry around this victim mentality forever.”

Haruki Murakami

Benefits of Adopting a Victim Mentality

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It seems that some people who get by as “victims” are not willing to do anything in order to change even if they realize that other people around them are getting tired or annoyed by their constantly negative behavior. This happens because it seems that there are some benefits when somebody adopts the role of the “victim”.

1.       You are not accountable for your life: You take no responsibility for what happens in your life. Your life is the result of others’ people choices and actions and there is nothing you can do about it.

2.       Secondary benefits: “Victims” receive attention and sympathy from other people. In some cases they may also receive medication or funds. People who receive these benefits may not even realize it and keep feeling truly distressed.

3.       Satisfaction of unconscious needs: When you have a victim mentality you are in unconscious need of other peoples’ help, while you also seek for their validation. You play the “poor me” card which results in help and sympathy from others.

4.        No risks: Everything is other people’s fault so there is no need to actually take risks and be vulnerable.

How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality

As stated above it is absolutely normal to feel dissatisfied from your life from time to time and to seek other people’s attention and help. However, this is totally different from having adopted a victim mentality.

This is a list of signs that indicate that you might have adopted a victim mentality:

·         You believe that your life is against you

·         Your life is this way due to other people’s choices and actions

·         You cannot deal with the problems of your life and feel that you have no power against them

·         You have adopted a negative attitude and feel like your life is stuck while you can do nothing to change that.

·         You somehow even feel relieved and pleased when you feel bad and sorry about yourself

·         When somebody says an opinion about your behavior, even if it is an honest feedback you feel like you are under attack.

·         The people you attract are those with similar beliefs and attitudes towards life. They are those who complain about their lives and blame others.

·         It is hard for you to examine your life, make decisions and changes.

“I was a redhead and a middle child; both can make you feel excluded. It’s like fighting to be included, in the swim of things. After a while you start to develop a bit of a victim mentality, which isn’t great for a happy life.”

Shirley Manson

What Can You Do to Stop Being The Victim?

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What experts say on the issue is that the victim mentality is not something you are born with but instead it is a learned behavior. People learn to adopt a victim mentality through their social life and family. It could also most commonly be a result of a trauma.

There are some steps that could be followed in order to overcome the adoption of the victim mentality.

1.       Learn to be responsible: Take responsibility for your choices and actions. Of course you can never control others but your reaction to their choices and actions is still your choice. You are the person responsible for your life and her potential and nobody else.

2.       Practice compassion and self-care: The victim mentality is in many cases adopted subconsciously after a trauma in order to cope with it. Be compassionate with yourself and practice self-care and self-love while trying to recover. Use journalism to better understand your feelings.

3.       Say No: Learn to prioritize yourself and your needs. When you feel like you don’t want to do something it is totally ok to say no even if others feel like you’re letting them down.

4.       Learn more about the victim mentality: If you identified the signs pointed above across different areas of your life, you might consider learning more about it and how it affects your life. This could be done through reading articles or books or you may even consider seeking therapy. Educating yourself about the victim mentality will help you recover and prevent you from returning to the old way of thinking.

“Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

Bruce Lee

Have you identified any of the signs on yourself?

Have you met others with victim mentality?

References – Resources

Further information about the victim mentality could be found at the following links:

1.    https://www.healthline.com/health/victim-mentality

2.    https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-victim-mentality-5120615

3.   https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-a-victim-mentality

4.   https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/managing-victim-mentality.htm

What is Happiness and Will I Ever Reach it?

How pleased are you out of your life? If you were asked, would you answer “very pleased” without even hesitating a bit?

Honestly, I spent many years of my life without even being able to understand that I was not pleased with what my life was like. I guess the everyday routine took me with her and I did not even have the time to stand still and think.

The “Dream Job”

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For the last thirteen years I had been working as a business consultant. It started as a nine to five job with great career and financial prospects. I never felt really enthusiastic about it but, hey, the money was good and clients appreciated my work, so it felt like a reward.

Friends and family were happy and proud of me and my career in this “dream job” as it might seem like in their eyes. Finally, I could rent a bigger apartment in a nice neighborhood, I had enough money to travel and no need to have second thoughts if I liked something and wanted to buy it.

I guess you would say that that was great. And yes, I definitely liked the fact that I finally could live without thinking of my finances every single moment. That I finally could live in an apartment that I like, that I could travel and shop whenever I wanted to.

But I just couldn’t do it whenever I wanted to.

When the “Dream Job” Turned Into Nightmare…

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The nine to five job schedule very soon became nine to whatever time the job is done. Considering the fact that most of the clients I was working for were situated at least one hour driving away from home, that also extended my working schedule.

And the deadlines, oh the deadlines…. So much stress and pressure because we had to stick with the project plan and deliver on time.

So, I had a job that offered me financial security and the prospect of a better life.

But, I was renting a great apartment which I was actually using as a hotel since I would use it only to have a shower and get some sleep. I could travel, yes, and I would travel every time I had the chance. And this is something that I loved and I am grateful about.

The thing is that I constantly had the need to travel because I needed it as an escape out of the life I was living. I would shop and spend money not because I needed the staff I was buying but because I could.

And then bam!

The Coronavirus

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Coronavirus arrived and changed everything worldwide.

To all of us it was and in some aspects still is a shock. But the greatest change it brought to my life was that I stopped traveling and started working from home. Everything related to work was set up in just a few hours so the transition was quite fast and sudden.

There was no need to drive to the other side of the city, not even need to take off my pajamas in order to work. I found it as a great chance to finally enjoy my apartment and get some “me” time.

The isolation that came along with the lock down to me was not that horrible as it was to others. I have always enjoyed solitude and having such a busy schedule as I used to have did not offer me enough time to recharge myself.

Time to Stand Still and Look Inside

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It was at that time that I found the time to stand still and think about myself, my life, my needs and feelings.

Another thing that I did not mention, for which I am really grateful since my job financially allowed me to take it, was a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. I had really studied hard due to lack of time but by the time Coronavirus arrived I had already finished all my lessons and there was only my master thesis that I had to submit.

If it wasn’t for Coronavirus and the lockdown work from home status I don’t know if I could have ever made it on time and submitted my master thesis. While spending my time equally to work and studying during the first lockdown I realized even more how fulfilling writing is to me.

Time to Blog

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Even after the lock down had finished I never got back to the office, I kept on working from home. It was at some point during last March that I felt like I needed to communicate my writing with others and thought of starting a blog.

I had tried it again in the past but quit within days. I never stick to it long enough to understand whether I liked it or not. This time was different. As I said above I needed to communicate my writing. When you understand that you do something because not only you just like it but also because you feel that you need it, you do it under totally different terms.

Of course the job did not become less demanding, tiring or stressful just because I was working from home. But something had changed. Even if I felt exhausted I would still sit on my laptop for a few hours after work trying to find out how blogging works, write a post etc.

It was something new. It was engaging and it was related to what I love most, writing. I would spend hours trying to figure out things but the amazing thing was that I would not feel like getting tired.

I read about bloggers that manage to make a great income out of their posts and I honestly admire them. I hope I will be as good as them one day!

I know I know…. I have a million things to learn and should work really hard to get there.

The Decision For Change

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My job went crazy the last few months. There was a point that I felt like I was ready to collapse due to stress and too much pressure, so I decided to resign. After all, it was not like I ever really liked the life I was living the last 13 years of my life. I am grateful for all the things it allowed me to do and have but no, I cannot recall even a single moment that I felt happy in it.

I am also grateful about some people I had the chance to meet but I strongly believe that you never really lose those you care about. So I am not sad about it. I will be in touch with them. Not every day in touch because I have to but now and then in touch because I want to.

I don’t know what I will be doing from now on. I will definitely be blogging more because every day I realize how much I like it. Apart from that, whatever happens I decided that I will not let myself be carried away again by any routine. I will be sitting still and listen to myself and its needs.

Time is precious to be wasted in things that don’t offer us any joy at all.

“Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress – the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”

Mark Manson

What does find yourself mean?

And my question to all of them is:

When have I lost myself and I have to find him?

I think that “find yourself” actually means never forget about yourself. Never forget the things you love and make you happy. Don’t get distracted by the everyday surviving struggle and forget what’s worth being alive for.  

We all do that. Many of us from time to time have to keep a job that we don’t like because it pays our bills. Will we ever be truly happy in this job?

I don’t think so.

Will we ever become successful in this job?

I don’t think so either. And that is because I think that nobody can become really good at something that he does not care enough about. 

We say to ourselves that this job is just a temporary thing while we will also be working on writing, painting, or whatever you want to fill in. But, while doing this temporary job we manage to have an income, we plan things based on this income, and as the time passes we might have more people in our lives depending on this income. 

After a while, the everyday routine which initially included, apart from the 8hours temporary job, at least 2hours of daily writing or painting has to be broken. Something should be replaced in order to do the other “important thing” that has to be done. And of course that cannot be the job that pays the bills.

You say it’s ok. It doesn’t matter if I don’t do my writing today. After all, this will not be happening everyday. But it does.

And all of a sudden we come to realize that one afternoon that was supposed to be the exception lasted for years. In some cases for too many years.

Another thing is that we all, more or less, feel the need to please other people. I don’t know why. I guess it is human nature. We tend to feel the need to please our boss, our family, our friends and loved ones. But while trying to please them all we forget of all the things that please us.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t say that pleasing others could not also mean that we get pleasure out of it as well. It is much different when you spend time with a loved one, and of course you love the time spent with him/her, than trying to become someone you are not just to fulfill the expectations of parents, friends, lovers etc.

I guess that what I am trying to say is this.

Please do everything you can to always, ALWAYS remember yourself, the things you love and please you. 

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.