I’m sharing this article that I wrote and was published in the May 2014 edition of Living Now magazine. The feedback I received was that it resonated with many and allowed them to make changes in their lives. I share this in the hope of preventing others from breaking a limb, or having a car accident, in order to learn the lesson of slowing down and putting themselves first.
Melonie found that, in learning how to STOP and give to herself, she could be happy and make more of an impact on the lives of those around her.
How can we be happy in today’s busy world?
by Melonie Taylor
How often do we hear the saying that times are tough? The economy is going down the gurgler. The situation with the asylum seekers is disconcerting and unsettling. Drugs are rife and the future is looking bleak. The government fight like cat and dog and the divorce rates are rising. How can we be happy in such a hectic world?
When I go for a walk every morning, I find it interesting to see people walking with headphones on, listening to music and looking so serious. They walk straight ahead, with straight faces, on a mission to get their exercise in. They get onto buses, off buses, and walk motionlessly to work. They do a day’s work and repeat the same steps, ending up back at home. In my home town of Ballarat in country Victoria, you say good morning to everyone whether you know them or not, whether you feel like it or not. Initially, when I moved to the city I didn’t say good morning. I ran ahead, eyes fixed, in a hurry to get my exercise in before work, in a hurry to get a faster time than the day before and always in a hurry to get things done. I didn’t say good morning because I didn’t want to look silly and, quite frankly, I was in too much of a hurry. If I wasn’t flat out, I wasn’t happy. I used to put so much on my plate that it’s a wonder it didn’t break years ago. I would rush around trying to improve myself each day and each week. I would work, study, train, socialise with each group of friends, see family, and by the end of the year crash into a blubbering mess. I would put myself back together over the holidays and then repeat the same sequence over and over again.
Then, one year, the best thing that could have happened to me was that my plate broke. I was rushing around working, studying, and training for a marathon, when I broke my wrist. The doctors gave me a certificate for two weeks, but in my usual style I kept rushing. I had a compulsory tutorial at university the next day and continued to work with one arm. Then, finally, whilst also trying to write an essay, I came crashing down. My body said ‘For God’s sake STOP’, and this time I listened. I listened to the message that I was being cruel to myself. How could I be happy? Start by being kind to myself.
I used to always take the hard road. If there was a choice between the easy road or the hard road, I would always choose the hard road. I was brought up with the belief system that, to achieve anything in life, you have to work hard. No reward comes without suffering and sacrifice. I was taught to give to others before giving to myself, and if you had anything left, you should give so more.
I didn’t learn the lesson when my grandfather died. He worked seven days a week, made lots of money, was known as “the miserable old bastard” and died without enjoying his family, enjoying his money or really enjoying anything. I realised that he was repeating the lessons that had been taught to him and passed on down the generations. He was doing his best from what he knew and didn’t know how to break the pattern. He didn’t know how to STOP and be kind to others let alone be kind to himself.
Once I learnt to STOP and I started giving to myself, I actually found that everyone around me flourished because I could keep giving without depleting myself. I learnt that, in being in a hurry, I was missing the opportunity of enjoying the journey. I was in a hurry to get to a destination which was leading down a road to a disaster.
I no longer crash at the end of the year and can support others in choosing the easy road. I now have extra energy to give.
When you lead by example, you shine a light for others to follow.
I learnt to live in the moment through discovering self-love and that life can be easy. Living in the past creates depression. Living in the future creates anxiety. Living in the present can allow the receiving of the journey’s many gifts. I now say good morning to others on my walk, and it puts a smile on their face when they are jolted out of their daily mission, which also puts a smile on mine. When we STOP and fill ourselves up , the overflow pours out effortlessly to others and starts a cycle of giving and receiving which significantly contributes to the world.