Passion Versus Peace

In the midst of life’s challenges and desires, there is always a subtle pressure to seek and do more whether we are aware of it or not. If people stopped doing things, what would happen to the world? Let me rephrase that – what if people stopped doing negative and destructive things and replaced them with positive acts and deeds? Good news instead of bad news. I think a lot of the choices we have and end up making in life depend on the quality and focus of our intention – what do we intend to happen?

Feeling restless and discontent is something I really don’t like feeling. I am not a person who finds it easy to settle down. I always have to be running around, doing new things and challenging myself. ‘This is too easy, I’ve conquered this, I need a new challenge, what can I do now?’

Is ‘easy’ a bad thing or does it simply mean we are not trying hard enough or pushing ourselves in the way we should? Perhaps we have all learned to fight contentment as it could mean we have nothing left to strive for, no more goals on the horizon. When people ask me what I’m passionate about, I don’t know what to say. I love life, I enjoy learning and exploring everything it has to offer but I don’t have this fervent desire brooding inside of me that seems to be needed to achieve things.

In a world where we all have to be passionate and driven to do well, is it any wonder we all feel restless and constantly worn out? Feeling and experiencing passion is amazing though. It really gives us the determination to succeed at what we do. The only problem is – it burns out very quickly sometimes. Rather than being passionate about what you do, I think it is better to love what you do instead.

Life seldom works out the way you thought it would. Plans and dreams tend to waver off course, just like a meandering river, the journey of life carries us through the choices we make. There is only the destination we choose for ourselves which means – life is in our hands. There is energy behind the flow of the river. If we combine our energy with a focused intention, we find more often than not that we will be able to achieve what we want. But that’s just it – what do we want?

Desire, lust and passion are intensely seductive and they have the power to consume and destroy. You can be enslaved by your desires and ultimately destroyed by them. Look at any addiction. (Watch Star Wars). It is filled with Zen wisdom! I don’t know what I prefer really. To be peaceful and content or to be passionate and driven. All I know is – I cannot have both. Perhaps we all go through phases where we prefer one over the other.

Love stands the test of time. Look at successful relationships for example – if love is the foundation, you will go the distance. Building a relationship on passion in life is like trying to build a house on a stormy sea. It just doesn’t work. The waves are turbulent, volatile and guaranteed to throw you all over the place. In a relationship, it may be exciting for a while but the excitement is eventually overtaken by exhaustion and tiredness as you try desperately to hold on to the passion which is energy – energy cannot be restrained. It changes from moment to moment. You cannot hold onto to it.

If there is anything in life we could say is certain is that nothing ever stays the same for long. Even if it does, eventually things will change. It is the nature of the world we live in. People come and go. Lives change and people grow. Surely to stand still is to stagnate? Like everything in life, it depends on how you look at things. If you feel stuck, perhaps it is all do with luck….

‘I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.’

(Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This says it all. So much in this world is uncertain even if we do plan things. Life can give you a hand that you didn’t expect. Time and chance have their role to play. Chances come and risks can be taken but you can still never know what lies ahead of you if you do take that leap and if you don’t. To me, contentment, happiness and peace are the main goals of life. What you want may not always be what you find. It could be better or worse than you originally intended depending on how you look at things. Are we all simply just ‘putting up’ with things and settling for less than we deserve in life or are we actually happy? Now that is a tricky one…

I’m going to go with peace.

Christina McDonald 2014.

Advertisements

I’m not perfect (nor do I want to be)

I’m not sure if it is because I am too tired (or getting too old to care anymore) but I feel as though the pressure to be perfect is just a crazy way to feel and live. I am all for high standards – don’t get me wrong – and it is extremely important to give your very best in life. If you stopped trying, things would just fall apart. Caring about what you do is paramount and sometimes, other people’s lives and safety depend upon it.

I just hate that feeling – you know – the feeling that everything you do hinges on being absolutely perfect. No mistakes, no errors, no room for failure. I make mistakes sometimes, even when I try not to. I’m not perfect – there!

Are there people out there who simply don’t mess up? How do they do it? Do they just cover it up superbly when they do make a mistake so nobody notices? (In other words – through ‘bull****’? I’m not saying I make mistakes all the time. Not at all. Sometimes when I do, I feel like it is the end of the world and it isn’t. I say to myself ‘Why did I do that, how stupid! I should know better than this!’ (And I should and do). So, why do I make silly mistakes then? Are mistakes the be all and end all? No, of course not. But – they feel like they are sometimes.

I don’t know about you, but I feel as though the drive for constant perfection in society is maddening. High standards, yes. Perfection – no (and it can sod off). The perfect body, the perfect image, the perfect holiday, the perfect relationship. The perfect amount of money, (Yeah, right).

The problem is when it comes to perfection, enough is never enough especially when it comes to materialism. You always think you can do better and have more, improve this, change that. To me, perfectionism is an illness perpetuated by fear that quietly resides in the psyche waiting to pounce the moment you feel just a little bit insecure or unsure of yourself.

(The fear of not/never being good enough – that is the driving force behind perfectionism – so we keep striving at all costs to prevent a realisation of this truth…that we might not be what other people think.

Who cares?????

I am not perfect and I don’t think anybody should feel guilty for it and feel as though they should apologise for their own perceived ‘failures’ and weaknesses. Realising you have a weakness is actually a strength because (if you feel you need to), you can then become aware of it and can change it.

When painting a picture and your paintbrush slips across the paper, do you score it all out, tear it up and put it in the bin? No. You simply include the ‘mistake’ as part of the creative process. You are the one defining what that mistake is. Perhaps I am also defining my mistakes – I am self-critical to the point where I can sometimes lose perspective of what really matters – the fact that I am human….

I remember years ago when I was applying for jobs after university, going through endless application forms and reading the requirements – ‘must have superb attention to detail, must be proactive, dynamic, a leader, a visionary, presidential material, quite simply – awesome, amazing and magical (of course, not forgetting to demonstrate excellent customer service, blah blah etc. Must, must, must must. Fine – I get it. You want someone who will try hard and do their best.

Reading those kinds of things just makes me not want to bother – why? Perhaps it is some kind of false sincerity on my part – having to care when I didn’t actually care that much. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think I’m alone here – most people want to do their best, earn their money and go home at the end of the day and forget the fact that in their 9-5 jobs, they are actually superhumans in disguise of a person who makes mistakes from time to time.

At least now I have a job I love and really do enjoy – thank goodness. Even when I went for flute lessons as a student, my teacher told me once when I was auditioning for an orchestral vacancy – ‘you cannot make a mistake at all here, there are over 300 candidates going for this seat and there is no room for error.’ Well – I went to the audition, made one tiny mistake and hey presto, that was that. (I tried not to, but I did). So myself, and 298 other candidates bit the dust. That’s the way it goes….

So, I guess the theory is – try not to make a mistake but if you do, just let it go and try not to let it ruin the rest of your life….it doesn’t matter if you screw up. Having high standards is perfect enough. Striving for perfection in my case is very self-limiting and completely soul destroying. I cannot do that but I am sure there are others who can.

Be creative, make music, paint and write, even though people may never appreciate it and be joyful for the sheer sake of it. Life is short and very precious. Don’t make unnecessary sacrifices for nothing. Just be and do.

In life, it only matters if you stop trying. Whatever happens, do it for you.

© Christina McDonald 2014.

Success is a state of mind…

When you believe you can, you will. When you don’t, you will not. It really is that simple. If you believe in something enough and you know you can do it, good things will come. It may not come instantly but eventually, with persistent effort, you end up achieving your goal.

There is no clear definite concept of success. It is a matter of priority only.

Being successful in society does not always mean from a material perspective. There are different kinds of success. Don’t think you will not make mistakes either. That is a massive part of the journey towards success. The trick is – even if you make a mistake, no matter how silly you think it is, move on, learn from it and keep going! Being able to learn and grow as a person is one of the biggest achievements in life and if you can do it…that really is something to be happy about.

Doubt is your biggest enemy. What is there to doubt anyway if you know what you’re doing? Faith in yourself is the key to everything. If you can prepare yourself for success mentally no matter what you are doing, you are halfway there. Belief is the driving force behind it. Look at how powerful belief is when it comes to religion for example…(and sometimes not in a good way). It is a very powerful tool for change and it should be used carefully and wisely. Belief is potent!

If you want to be successful, ask yourself ‘why?’ What are your motivations for success? Your personal reasons will give you an insight as to how you feel in relation to what you value and why. We all value different things in life but some things do not require us to give them a real sense of priority. If you want something, it is not always the same as needing something.

So – what is a priority on the most fundamental level?

Good health

To be able to live comfortably (having enough)

Happiness (and to be genuinely happy means you are grateful for what you have, not unhappy that you don’t have everything you want).

Good friends who support and cherish you for who you are

Someone to love and who loves you unconditionally

Good health, shelter, food and water – if you have that, then you are pretty successful I think! Some people don’t even have the basics while the rest of us have so much we forget what is truly important.

So – considering the above, would you say you are successful or unsuccessful?

I would say….successful!

© Christina McDonald 2014

Want success? Don’t stress out – chill out! 6 simple ways to work productively

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”
― Joanne Harris, Chocolat

Life is busy, stressful and chaotic. Tell me something I don’t know right? Sure it is. We fight constantly to get our heads above water. That promotion, that property, more this, more that, whatever dream we aspire to.

If I told you success was all about simplicity, perseverance and application, would you believe me?

It isn’t about slacking off. It isn’t about killing yourself in the process either. Not at all. It is all about applying energy and focus in the right way.

Be proactive:

The goal of success is a dream. A dream that needs your attention and focus to materialise. Doing something everyday, no matter how small you think it is, will take you one step closer to realising your goals.

Be realistic in your outlook:

Make sure your goals are actually obtainable. Biting off more than you can chew creates a lot of needless stress which is of course, a waste of energy. You need your energy to do things that are within your grasp and capability. It doesn’t mean you don’t aim high…just aim to do what you can.

Keep it simple:

The most fundamental and powerful rule of all. Don’t complicate things needlessly. Other people will do that for you most of the time. Have one main goal, find a way to achieve it within reach and most importantly, believe in it!

Be positive:

Even on the days where everything sucks (you’ll have some weeks like that too), keep going. Things usually get better and more postive in time. Just keep going and remember what Winston Churchill said:

‘When you’re going though hell, keep going.’

Don’t quit. Or if you do quit more often than not, quit quitting!

Take things in your stride:

Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t happen quickly. Nothing happens instantly. Good things, great ideas and grand plans take time to come to fruition. Small steps all the way will lead to the completion of the journey in the end. Before you realise it, you will have found the success you were looking for. Just be patient….

Relax:

If you feel wound up, tense and frustrated, you will not be in the right mindset. You will be negative and then you will start attracting the wrong energy. If you’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, you’ll easily relate to what I’m saying! There is no reason for it, you just feel ‘off’ for no apparent reason. Clear your mind, get rid of any negative thoughts and replace them with postive ones. Basically, positive things will happen when you feel positive and vice versa. Smile at someone and you may just get a smile back!

Don't be a grumpy cat....

Don’t be a sour puss….

<
Smile! – simple and effective….

© Christina McDonald 2014