The past few weeks in my life have been hectic. I work a full-time job, and teach classes (mostly software training) regularly at the local community college. In addition, I was recently approached for consulting work with another college.
With a schedule like that, I have narrow margins for “life blips“, which are – well – part of life! My mother recently had some health issues and was hospitalized for a number of days. This altered my usual weekly schedule and provided me some time to sit and think.
When I get stressed from being over-scheduled, I am tempted to complain; but I know that I am blessed to have such “problems” and quickly remember how truly grateful I am for all of them.
The nature of my work over the years has afforded me the opportunity to work with groups of people who are seeking career changes or simply trying to find a job. It is sobering work.
Any time that I am tempted to feel miserable about an over-scheduled week, I recall the faces of people I’ve met over the years who became frequent flyers at local job fairs. Many of them mid-career professionals, a good number had, at one time, been employed in solid and well-paying jobs that they left for some reason. They may have faced illness – of themselves or a family member – and had to leave their job for a time. Others were downsized or caught up in a layoff.
Some folks were trying to re-enter the workforce after borrowing money and slogging their way through a degree program, just to find that being a new graduate at 45 is a whole different ballgame than it is in your early 20’s. Regardless of the story, I know that any one of them would gladly trade their current circumstances for a hectic week juggling multiple, paying jobs.
Working with unemployed and underemployed mid-career job seekers, I have felt their desperation, and heard the resignation and doubt in their voices after repeated dead-end interviews. I have provided a sympathetic ear as they spoke about the salaries they once made and hope to again achieve and I have watched as they eagerly practiced elevator pitches and interview skills with recruiters half their age.
I hope that along the way I have provided good advice and encouragement that was useful to them. Something they don’t know is that they have provided me with a powerful life lesson. I know that regardless of how insane my life may seem at times, I am blessed beyond words.
No matter who we are, or what we are experiencing – in the midst of the hectic pace, the insane schedule, the exhaustion, the ridiculous demands whatever it is that we are complaining about (to ourselves or out-loud) – there exists, always, the opportunity for a “gratitude adjustment”.
Think about the things in your life that inspire the most complaints. Now, consider the other side of the coin: can you think of other people who would be happy to carry that burden, due to all the benefits that are also a part of the package?
When we can stop, look around and appreciate what may seem to be burdens, we will very often find that they are in fact blessings. Once we realize this, we are well on our way to experiencing true abundance in life. And so it is.
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