Matt Estes is a graduate student in communications at Auburn University and since I think he has a pretty good take of life and attitudes that often come at a later age and after much more experience, I was happy to exchange guest blogs with him when he suggested it. Since we have very different audiences from each other, we both felt that my older audience would appreciate hearing from his younger perspective whereas perhaps his younger audience would consent to put up with at least one more oldster “speaking from the voice of experience!”
He says this about himself:
“I am an aspiring novelist, and love to blog. I’ve got what I consider to be a pretty cool blog over at Mars Gone Mad, but then again, I am a bit biased. I do my own writings and photography, so please come get to know me. I also wanted to say a special thank you to Judy for letting me do a guest post on her amazing lifelessons blog. She’s much more popular than I am, so it’s particularly helpful to me. Anyway, she’s doing a guest post of her own over on my blog, so you should definitely check it out.”
This is Matt’s guest essay :
Three Ways to Bring Contentment, Despite Discontenting Circumstances
Being only 23 (which, from my perspective, is older than I’ve ever been), many people would not consider me an expert on life yet. I think that’s a fair argument to make, as I’m certainly not as seasoned as many of the older, wiser people that I admire very much. I mean, come on, I’m not the one with the blog called lifelessons. I simply haven’t lived enough to give lessons on something I’ve only experienced a third of. Still, being a graduate student, one thing that I am an expert on is pressure. Constant pressure. The pressure that each and every assignment could be the end. Miss one deadline, screw up one paper, fail to make one instructor happy for one day, and suddenly everything you’ve worked on for two years collapses out from underneath you. Everything you’ve worked for, your entire planned future, gone in a flash.
But isn’t that how it always is? Life always comes with its share of stressors, anxieties, and pressures. Like, for every year you are alive, each one comes with its own accompanying tension. It links together like a chain. Puberty, boyfriends/girlfriends, high school, jobs, college, marriage, career stress, failing health. Sure, it changes from person to person, depending on where you live, who you’re with, and sometimes how well-off you are, but it is always there. One problem after another forms the background music for each person in life, and it never seems to end. That’s why “it’s always something” is such a popular sentiment among people especially prone to anxiety.
But there are three things I’ve found that take the focus off the constant strain of life. If you’ll keep these key points in mind when the world shifts into a stressful phase, you’ll have a much easier time carrying contentment around with you while the rest of society admires your unquenchable joy.
- Realize the world is not out to get you.
The world is going through a phase where it’s particularly interested in things that are both dark and depressing, and while this may not be anything new – people thought the world wars and Cold War would spell doomsday – this is the first time I can remember that it’s been a running theme in our art. Surrounded by such dark, it’s easy to think the world is out to dispel the hopes and dreams of anyone living. It’s easy to lose that sense of optimism when you’re convinced that life is a fight, a competition, and the only way to live is to win. But people have developed to coexist, not compete. We do things for each other, not to get ahead, but out of an unexplainable sense of love. When bad things happen, that’s just the unfortunate consequence of a flawed universe, not a weapon targeted directly at you. Bad things happen. Good things happen. Both are guaranteed, but neither is fated.
- Resist the urge to complain too much.
The thing about complaining is that it merely feels good when you’re doing it. It’s all rocking, with no forward progress, because complaining doesn’t really do anything. All it seems to accomplish is the transfer of negative emotions onto your friends and family. And while they may lend a sympathetic ear, I’ve found there are far more effective ways to bring yourself out of negative situations. First, accepting your fate with intentional humility is an effective tool for growing your own character.
“This has happened to me, and it is not that big of a deal.”
“There are others who have it worse than me.”
These kinds of sentiments carry far more effectively than sounding the alarm. I assure you, the people that matter will notice you plight and try to help you the best they can. I think it’s okay to complain, but don’t take it to the extreme.
- Reset your surroundings by basking in the good things.
What I’ve discovered is that life is about the little things. And while it may be our goal and dream to achieve glory in this life, it is not a necessity. The glory will come when you least expect it, and fulfillment of yourself if far more important than the adoration of others. So, despite all the stresses that come with trying to get ahead in the world, it becomes important to take note of the little things daily. The things that provided you happiness when you were a child, before you didn’t have time to stare at a sunset gleaming through the trees. When you appreciated that all you needed was a family, some food to eat, and a great big world out there to explore in order to be content. When you were faster, but the world itself didn’t seem to move so fast.
The problem with an attitude that you must get something done right now, well before it’s due, is that the work will never stop. There will always something else to do, so the finish line is just an illusion. And so a world exists where people never take time to appreciate the little things… to appreciate themselves. They always plan to, but it’s a low priority plan compared to what’s due to your supervisor by Friday. You will simply never find contentment if you’re always sacrificing yourself in the process. So take time daily to just discover what life is outside the walls that contain who you are all the time. That looks a lot of different ways for a lot of different people, but one thing I do know is that it doesn’t involve crunching numbers on a computer screen. It involves getting out there… and it involves looking inside yourself. Those are the places you will find contentment.