Happy 2016 beloveds!
I hope that you have all had a fruitful 2015 and are ready and refocused to achieve the things that make you excited and fulfilled this upcoming year.
Over the last 6 months, I have encountered many learning moments both at work and personally while living and working in a completely new country. In a nutshell, Malaysia has been good to me and has taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. While people and institutions are different, the hospitality and kindness of locals and those who have been here for a while still feel very familiar. It is so comforting, especially on the hard days where we inevitably get homesick. All in all, it has been one hell of a busy, crazy ride, but I made it through the first semester with minimal damage and am only feeling more motivated to kick that second semester in the ass (or let it kick mine again … tomato, tomatto!).
While I would love to recap my last 6 months, which would have mostly been about work and short travels here and there anyway (ps. Southeast Asia is beautiful), Miss Sweet Brown says it best …
Due to tax jail, I had to cut my holiday short at home and come back to KL a week early. While I so would have loved to stay home for the full three weeks, I am grateful that I got the week to clean up my house, discover spots around KL I have never been to before (which are a lot), and do a lot of reading, writing, and reflecting.
This first semester and all of the new changes that came along with it really derailed me from things I love to do for myself such as playing music, working out, taking time to read, and most of all, write. My devoted readers have probably noticed too that my last post was my first week in KL and that was a while ago. It’s been nice to slow down finally and be reminded of what I need to keep myself mentally stable. I’ve felt moments of myself flying off the rails this last semester and am grateful for those who have been there to tell me to calm my shit. Sometimes you just need that slap in the face to tell you to calm the f*ck down. Or kittens. These damn cute kittens.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of ‘living in abundance’. I have asked a few of my friends what it means to them and it sounds like we all have similar descriptions.
Living in abundance is a mindset. Not necessarily how much you have, but how much you think you have. It is about appreciating and savouring all that you possess and fully being in the moment – with relationships, time with yourself, family, your body in the current state, love, careers, etc. Living in abundance also means being generous, whether it is with your time with loved ones, people in need, or being generous with yourself – a hard one that many have trouble with. Living in abundance is living with gratitude despite circumstances and getting curious about them. It is realizing the problems and confronting it with love and compassion.
Living in abundance is recognizing that you always have more than what you need.
As a society, we are constantly living from a space of deficiency – ‘I don’t have this’, ‘I need the next [insert brand]’, ‘this isn’t enough’, ‘I am not enough’, etc. Whatever it is, it seems that we are never satisfied even if we have achieved our previous goals. Smashing goals and making new exciting ones are what I live for, but we also cannot forget to appreciate and acknowledge what we have accomplished and who we are. There is nothing wrong with wanting to become better because that is how we grow and progress, but there is something wrong with feeling like whatever we have or whoever we are is never enough.
Brené Brown’s most recent book called ‘Rising Strong’ (highly recommended as with all her other work), mentioned whether or not we believe that everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment.
Without a doubt, thoughts and feelings of unjust may begin to surface due to the fact that it looks like we are not holding people accountable for their actions and may equate it to just letting them off the hook. I get it. But as a teacher, I have learned that more often than not, it is true.
Johnny did not do his homework because he spent hours on video games. Is he being the best student he can be? Absolutely not. Was it a choice? Absolutely. Was he being the best kid that he could be, acknowledging that he is still just a kid though? Probably. He probably does not know how to manage time quite yet nor has he realized the fact that he is going to fail with this continued habit. What happens to Johnny? He fails, gets punished big time by his parents (worst punishment for most), and suffers the consequences of his own actions.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt does not mean that they get away with consequences – karma is a sassy bitch – but it does mean that it’s their problem, not mine.
If it is really turns out that they aren’t doing the best they can in that moment with what they have, big whoop. At least I feel better about their perceived stubbornness, laziness, poor attitude, and an array of things teachers will get frustrated about. And this is not just in the teaching world, it applies to every single connection that we make.
Believing that everyone is doing the best that they can with what they have sets ME free and prevents ME from fighting battles I do not need to stress myself over. It is especially important for me to keep this mantra in mind because thinking this way allows me to become more compassionate with the people around me, especially students. It will allow me to continue to find ways to help them grow and work with them, rather than shutting them out and declare them hopeless.
Is it easy? Hell to the no. Especially when you really care and have strong emotions invested. At the end of the day though, for what? Life is too short and you don’t always need to be the one to help them through it. But realizing that will at least set you free and help you feel less angry, hurt, and/or upset. If you are the one who will be by their side to work with them, then it will allow you to get curious, rather than angry, and find more patience and compassion within you.
I truly believe that if people knew how to be better at any given moment, they would do it. A single mom would not sell her body if she didn’t have to, in order to put food on the table. An angry lover would not lash out at their spouse if they knew how to react more constructively. Nobody likes to fail. And I genuinely do not believe that there are bad people. Just people who do bad things because they do not know how to choose the alternative.
Bold statement, I know.
I do believe, however, that there are people who just don’t know HOW to do nor become better. And if they know and don’t do it, well then that’s on them.
But, what if we are all just trying to make it but don’t know how to?
I might seem naive, but at least I feel better about the world around me and can continue to live a life with love and compassion. It allows me to live more abundantly. My faith in humanity stands unwavered, my friends! The incurable optimist that I am.
If they knew better, they would do better.
They just need to learn ‘HOW’.
Mama Angelou said it so it must be true.
In the new year, I challenge you all to check yourself and take note of how you are living abundantly. And if you are not there yet, I challenge you to explore how you may feel more abundance in your life.
I also challenge you, when confronted with the opportunity, to choose to believe that people are doing the best they can with what they have. Notice how it will begin to transform your day to day interactions and maybe you will begin to start experiencing the world with more love and compassion as well.
Good luck, troops!
Lots of love and hugs to you all xo