Tuesday, 17 September 2013

When Life Doesn't Live Up To The Dream: The Problem of Our Generation?

Do you ever feel as if your life hasn’t turned out the way you hoped it would? Do you feel disappointed,
unfulfilled, and like you were lied to about your prospects? You thought that, by now, you’d have it all figured out – the dream job, the amazing house, the beautiful family – but, instead, you’re slogging away at a badly-paid job that you can’t stand, wondering where it all went wrong… sound familiar?

It seems that discontent is in the air these days; whether it’s riots, revolutions or discontent. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, travelling the world and coaching, there’s a feeling among people that they’ve somehow failed. They started out with great dreams, and somehow, life got in the way. Paying bills and just affording to eat takes precedence over everything else – a soul-crushing reality for those whose hearts are ignited by music, poetry, or, really, anything other than sales and data entry. You’re not alone if you feel that way. We were told that the world was our oyster. But it turns out that being smart, hard-working, creative, good with people and qualified is not enough. You toil through the job adverts, being put off by the word “experienced” on even the easiest-sounding job. You see things you’re more than qualified for, but you need some certificate you’ve never heard of to even apply. You find your dream job, but it’s an unpaid internship. You wonder how you’re ever going to get where you want to be without winning the Lottery or marrying someone rich.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Being Grateful Makes You Happier

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then you might indulge in the tradition of saying what you're thankful for before devouring the turkey and green bean casserole; a delightful holiday that I was mostly unaware of - apart from through episodes of Friends - until I started meeting Americans on my travels. Apart from being completely enamoured with pumpkin pie, I was touched by the idea of everybody going around the table, saying what they were grateful for. Surely it's a great way to make kids appreciate what they've got. But then - why limit expressions of gratitude to one day a year?

It turns out that gratitude is really good for us. Over the last few years, Positive Psychologists have found that people who are generally more grateful are also happier (or, to phrase it properly, have higher subjective ratings of well-being). Of course, you may think, those who have more to be grateful for would be happier, while those riddled with bad luck are far more likely to be miserable. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

When you feel your life is meaningless...

A little quote that might make you feel blessed to be alive...

"Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored
evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely-make that miraculously-fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result-eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly-in you.” Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

You're a little miracle. Don't waste it.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Stop the Shoulds: Wanting Luxury Without Apologies

Firstly – hello again! Sorry for disappearing for such a long time… but, in my defence, I was on my
The bamboo hut I "should" have loved...
honeymoon. Seven weeks in South East Asia! Well, now I’m back, and the post-holiday blues are threatening to set in, unless I get my arse into gear and start blogging… And what better subject to start with than travel?

I’m not exactly sure when the travel bug first bit me, but ever since I packed my bags and moved to Japan I could safely think of myself as somebody a little adventurous. While I haven’t travelled anywhere near as much as some of my friends, I have made it to 22 countries, most of them in the last three years. Like many travellers, I like to see myself as somehow better than your run-of-the-mill backpacker – somebody who doesn’t fall for tourist traps, who gets in there and experiences the “real” feel of a country, and who doesn’t need any luxury to get by. At least, that’s what I thought before I set off on my backpacking honeymoon.

Before setting out, I told my best friend that the majority of the honeymoon would be spent Couchsurfing, volunteering and generally slumming it. She was horrified – surely a honeymoon should be spent in luxury resorts, getting pampered, she argued. I refused to hear any of it – not only could we not afford five (or even three) star hotels; we didn’t want to waste our money on such excessive, unnecessary things as hot baths and soft pillows. We weren’t going to be part of the problem (and tourism DOES ruin local ecosystems) – we were going to save our money and get some real experience.