4 Things I’ve Learned as I Get Older

We learn a lot as we get older or HOPEFULLY we learn a lot. I’ve discovered four key changes in me as I age and it has really helped me shape a different perspective of the world.

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Release Yourself from Expectations

The way we perceive the world is, in part, based upon our expectations. As we get older, we gain life experience and tend to expect certain behaviors, good or bad, from society.

I’ve learned through jobs, friendships, and intimate relationships that I cannot go into them bracing for impact or filled with excitement. I have to go in with zero expectations.

As I was researching essential oils and mental clarity, I discovered the term “shoshin.”

There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” Shoshin refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject. When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open.

This is possibly one of the most important concepts to live by!

I constantly tell myself to go into every setting with an empty cup. If I go into a situation with a full cup, I won’t be present. I would have already walked in with a preconceived idea of what’s going to happen, how I’m going to react, and how things will end. My expectations would mentally prepare me to get rejected, not be heard, and to not get excited. Yes, this can be viewed as self-sabotage, but when you have these experiences multiple times, you brace for impact. There have been times when I’ve built positive expectations and thought of all of the wonderful possibilities only to have it get shot down because I was anticipating a better outcome.

With shoshin, you live your life with an openness which causes less anxiety. Whether you’re going on a date, you want a particular job, or something else you have a yen for, toss it into the universe and go with the flow. Conceive positive thoughts, but don’t fill your mind with the good or bad that may or may not happen. If it’s meant for you and you put the work in, it will come.

Keep your mind open, expect nothing, look for the good in each situation, but most importantly, keep your life moving.

The Constant Game of Regret

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Odds are, you regret more than one thing in your life. Whether it’s a previous relationship, educational choice, job, or that one moment when you should have said yes or no. We’ve all been there. As we live our lives, the constant game of regret is neverending.

Why do we regret so much?

If you’re lucky to live your life without regret, good for you. Many people aren’t that lucky.

Regret can eat at you longer than it should. You start to wonder, “I should have…” or “Why did I say…?” Your imagination starts to create different scenarios with outcomes you’ll never experience. These imagined outcomes fester in your brain and create alternate outcomes that stress you out more.

Constantly wondering “what if” drives us crazy.

Sometimes regret comes years later after you’ve had time to process things or during an evaluation of your life. This form of regret can cause temporary emotions, but since you’re so far removed from it, the imagined outcome doesn’t bother you as much unless the past decision is impacting your present life.

We can’t help but regret certain choices.

I’ve fallen victim to this mental deceit more than I’d like to admit.  I know how to find that one little thing that I could have done better and it annoys me.

Focus on the now.

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”

― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

So what’s the message here? We can’t rewind time. Regret isn’t always delusional. Learn from what you feel was a mistake, but don’t let it mentally destroy you. Sometimes there is an element to learn. To improve.

What’s done is done. It will be hard. Nothing is easy. We experience new things each day. Regret is bound to reappear, but stay focused on the positive outcomes from your choices. There’s always some good that came out of a decision. Whether that positive is large or small, it’s always present.

Regret is part of life. It’s normal. It’s annoying. In the end, it can be enlightening.

 

Your Job Should Not Destroy Your Mental Health

Your job should never destroy your mental health!

I work with an individual who is sweet beyond words. She does her job, gets tasks done on time, and never causes issues. The problem? She is overworked thanks to two individuals not wanting to pull their weight, people take credit for her hard work, and they go to her for everything. It has gotten to the point of her feeling stressed and going grey at 23-years-old. She has admitted to working from 8 am-1 am at one point and gets very little sleep because people ping her at all hours of the night. Since she’s a hard worker, she feels obligated to do the work.

I’ve witnessed her cry at work multiple times. She admitted to crying several times on and off-site. Some may say she’s simply emotional, but when you’re overwhelmed, your stress will reveal itself one way or the other.

I cannot stress this enough to people. Your mental health is more important than anything. If you feel yourself deteriorating, step back. Take a day off. Don’t answer emails, phone calls, instant messages, or text. There’s nothing wrong with having a “me day.” We all need them. There are several jobs out there that don’t believe in or practice a work-life balance.

Some people are so stressed and mentally exhausted that they don’t know how to function at work or cope with additional difficulties. This can often lead to suicidal thoughts or a sudden burst of rage.

Please, if you’re feeling mentally or physically exhausted, talk to your supervisor or someone higher up who will listen and express empathy. If you don’t have someone, it’s alright to call out.

According to one study, only 7% will use a sick day for their mental health.

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YOU are a priority! Take the day off. Make it a three day weekend. Make it a promise to yourself to focus on you and you only. It won’t hurt. The last thing you want to do is dread going to work before you go to bed or before you get out of it the next morning.

 

 

Are You Sleep Deprived?

When you are sleep deprived there are adverse effects that take place as a result. Sleep deprived individuals have trouble healing, focusing, and completing daily tasks. Sleep is essential to life and plays a role in many physiological and psychological functions such as tissue repair, growth, memory consolidation, and learning. Although sleep needs vary from one adult to another, experts believe that regular sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours per night) may over time have adverse effects on the brain and the body.

Getting enough sleep is a vital need for all of the organs to implement specific functions in the body. One of the benefits of sleep, in particular, is its restorative function. Sleeping is used to repair the body every day by putting it to rest. Also, sleep allows the body to stay more alert when you’re awake.

Conversely, sleep deprivation destabilizes metabolic activity. It increases cortisol levels (an in a hormone involved in the stress response) in the blood, affects the immune response diminishes the ability of the body to metabolize glucose and negatively affects the regulation of appetite. Similar changes are seen in people whose sleep patterns are disrupted, like, among others, in young children a case of illness. Normal body functions are disturbed b the lack of sleep, resulting in some metabolic consequences.

Effects of Being Sleep Deprived

The effects of sleep deprivation are easily recognizable: you are more irritable, you have a pessimistic attitude, you will have frequent mood swings, and you will suffer from stress and anxiety.

Similarly, sleep deprivation also affects you physiologically. It affects the sugar assimilation rate and can, therefore, lead to the appearance of glucose in the blood and an increase in your weight.

The negative effects of lack of sleep are also visible on the body temperature drop. This decrease can cause arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

One of the most severe effects of lack of sleep in a person is linked to his memory. Sleep deprivation can hinder the acquisition of short- and long-term knowledge and storage capacity.

Little sleep also affects your movements, it becomes slower. Similarly, lack of sleep affects the way you communicate. Your way of speaking becomes imprecise, and you present many difficulties to solve problems.

The long-term lack of sleep will also cause physical problems. In fact, many experts agree that sleep deprivation leads to the occurrence of tremors, increased perception of pain, exhaustion, intestinal disorders and an increased risk of suffering infections due to a weak immune system.

Appreciating the Little Things

It’s 7 am. The sunlight enters the bedroom window naturally waking a woman from her slumber. After a quick yawn and stretch, she heads to her bathroom to empty her bladder. Still physically and mentally waking up, she turns on the hot and cold water to create a comfortable temperature to wash her hands, face, and brush her teeth. 

Squinting from the abundance of sunshine beaming through her opened blinds, she walks into her living room towards her computer to boot it up. The desktop starts up immediately allowing her to hop on the internet and play the latest news vids. While catching up on what’s happening in the world, she opens her fridge to grab filtered water to prepare coffee. She scouts her selection of food deciding what will compliment her coffee. She chooses a bagel and cream cheese. 

As she awaits her bagel to toast, she sips on freshly brewed coffee while stepping onto her balcony to get some fresh air. The street is quiet with an occasional car or passerby. Her neighbors have unique schedules. Some have already left for work while others are still preparing for the day.

She hears the toaster oven beep notifying her the bagel is ready. Honey walnut cream cheese is slathered on the toasted bagel causing a sweet aroma to fill the kitchen. She grabs her hot breakfast and walks over to her computer desk. The day isn’t planned. There’s nothing on the schedule. She has the entire day to do whatever she chooses. Online shopping, laundry, write, head out with someone, exercise, or do absolutely nothing. The choice is hers. All she knows is it’s her day off, she doesn’t have to get out of her pajamas, and the coffee is truly hitting the spot. 

If you made it this far, this is what I do the first hour of waking up on my day off. You may be wondering what does my morning routine has to do with appreciating the little things. It has everything to do with the title. 

  1. I appreciate waking up in my bed with a roof over my head.
  2. I appreciate having a bathroom with clean running water.
  3. I appreciate seeing the sunlight beaming through my windows.
  4. I appreciate being able to afford the internet and a computer.
  5. I appreciate having food in my fridge and the option to choose what to eat.
  6. I appreciate preparing breakfast.
  7. I appreciate having a job that includes having a day off. 😀

You get the point. 

I didn’t want to do a simple list of things you should appreciate. I decided to go a different route. I guess I’m trying to be unique.

We’re so busy with our lives that we forget to appreciate the little things that are part of our daily routine, but ignored because of bigger things on our mind. The next time you wake up in the morning, have a day to yourself, or when you have a peaceful moment, pay attention to what you do and your surrounds. Appreciate the basics.

What are some small things you appreciate?