Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good Things in Life

The world we live in often demands many things of us. Gotta get a good education so we can go to a good university and end up with a good job. We have to get a girlfriend/boyfriend, look good, socialize, be a shoulder to cry on, break up, make up, save money to go on holidays, blow our savings on that great pair of jeans...the list goes on and on. Sometimes the tangled web that is the world we live in can feel overwhelming to people. If you believe the stats, the rates of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses is skyrocketing. God knows I've fallen victim to it, and I know plenty of my friends have too.

Often, when I'm feeling overwhelmed/anxious/depressed/etc. I disappear into my own world and ignore what's going on around me. It's my way of processing everything going on around me at the time. I also tend to disappear into my own world after I spend time helping other people - not because it's draining on me but because I try to understand why people do what they do. However, I've begun to learn that if you're spending all of your time focused on something that you miss what's going on around you. Sometimes it's good just to take a step back from things and live for the moment.

A few years ago I was teaching at a catholic school in Kelso, on the edge of Bathurst. I attended a staff development day that was focused on taking care of yourself mentally. Although there are some people who think teaching is a 'bludge job', it actually involves far more work than people see. Even in the classroom, being able to teach effectively requires you to juggle multiple tasks, think on the fly and manage 20-30 children who can go from angel to hell-raiser in the blink of an eye. It really is important to just be able to take that time out for yourself.

One of the tools that we were given that day is to take time out to simply 'exist'. For an hour or so a day, we were told to just take time out and relax. It might be reading a book, going for a walk, having a bath...what matters is that you're taking the time out for you to feel good. I've started to realise how important this is - if you're always taking the time out for everyone else, then sooner or later you're going to be running low emotionally.

For me, it's about rediscovering that youthful wonder about life. Like when you first discovered chocolate fudge brownies, or swinging around on the clothesline in the backyard. I don't think it's so much the big things in life that make life good, but the little things. A few days ago, a friend of mine told me his visa application was improved so he could move to Australia to be with his loved one. He was so excited and bouncing off the walls...I couldn't help but smile about it. Even seeing snow at the first time on campus put a smile on my face. It's these little things that I find make life that little bit spicier.

A wise person once told me that life is about finding the balance between what you need to do and what you want to do. Hopefully some people can come away reading this with an idea about how to add a little happiness to their own lives :).