The Things Which Matter Most

I have always lived on a budget, but this year has brought a great deal of change, tragedy, and joy to me and my husband. Tonight I came back from the grocery store, remembering how I used to think that chicken broth was a kitchen essential. We haven’t used chick broth in months. I used to think a lot of things were essentials, and take care that those things were always present or readily replaced. Beans, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, meat of some sort, salt, pepper, car insurance, access to a car, access to phone and internet. Things like that.

This year, I’ve been a teacher, and administrator, a laborer, and I just got done being a manager. We’ve moved across a continent and an ocean and decided to take up residence in a country in which we knew no one and were grateful we at least spoke English. I have a missionary cousin who is always going to strange and exotic places with her husband and kids, and they recently moved to a place where Spanish is the primary language even though they don’t speak it. We were fortunate to have borrowed some wise words from their multi-country travels.

The post I made on us moving abroad has been a relatively popular one on my blog, possibly due to people looking for advice in that regard. I don’t expect them to find this post, but I did want to say what I’ve learned you need to successfully survive life’s challenging times.

  • A calm heart. If you keep your emotions cool, if you listen to them and put a finger on what it is that is bothering you, and then find a way to address that issue, you have won most of the battle. Do not expect someone else to fix your problem, especially if you aren’t sure what it is. You are in charge of your own destiny, of responding to the world around you in a manner which produces a satisfactory result. It empowers you, embrace a calm heart.
  • Open ears, open eyes, and an ability to accept change. Change can be hard. It only gets harder the longer you resist it. Life is change. Each day you are a day older than you were in the last day, but you are also younger than you will be tomorrow. If you keep your heart calm and watch the world around you, if you notice what others are too busy to notice, you may see opportunities. This can be in conversation with a person whom you think has nothing new to say. It can lead to a new job. It might even just lead to a tasty dinner.
  • Acceptance of emotions. This is particularly true when your emotions are extreme. It is fine to feel angry, to feel crushed, to feel overjoyed. Feel them, but mind how you choose to exhibit them. Then let those emotions pass without guilt or regret.
  • A goal. You need a goal to try to accomplish. It may be the dishes in the sink. It may be going for a walk. It may be to not strangle that super-perky receptionist in the morning before you’ve had your coffee. Those little goals should build up to a bigger umbrella goal, maybe focusing on better health or on progressing your career.
  • Acceptance that the one and only thing you can change is your own actions and behaviors. You can’t force anyone else to act differently than they do. You can’t force someone to hire or promote you, to be kind in line, or really do anything else. But you have perfect control over what you say, what you don’t say, what you do, and what you don’t do.

Money comes and goes, but it particularly likes to go. Things happen to and for you. Try to morph the things that happen to you into things that happen for you, because isn’t that nothing more than perspective? This applies especially for the hard things. It’s fine if right now everything is not fine. It will be, in time, just maybe not right now.

These are what matter. It’s your perception, how you interpret the world, and how you interact with it. Obviously we have people we cherish, and they matter, too, but you only have control over how you interact with them. There are going to be times in life when it is filled with friends and family, and times when it isn’t. That is why I didn’t include people in the above, because sometimes they won’t have as big of a part of your life as you may like. Or perhaps you’ve seen too much of family lately. I’ve deliberately omitted material things, and I don’t think I need to explain why.

Just a thought from a person who has been there, but is not yet back again.

-Nicolette

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