This past year and a half has been a lot. It’s made me take a hard look at myself and ask a lot of questions that, for a long time, I couldn’t answer.

The past month or two, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting and focusing on how to be a better human — and by “better human”, I mean someone who is better at managing their emotions, thoughts and actions.

Maybe you could really benefit from hearing my mindset shifts or maybe you’re already a perfect human who has it all figured out. Either way I’m going to break down some of the key shifts in mindset that have changed my course over the last month. Here’s hoping that something here will also help you. *clinking of glass as we toast to it*

Before I dive in, I do want to give a big shout-out to Sabastian Enges. He has a lot of YouTube videos that I would highly recommend watching. I will link a few here in this article where he explains things better than I can.

The stuff I’m going to discuss is related, but not identical.

It is what you make of it.

I can’t count how many times I’ve said “it is what it is”. What you say, both to yourself and others, has a big impact on your outlook and how you handle your life. That’s why so many people use affirmations — they are coaching themselves into having a better perspective.

Here is a video where Sabastian talks about how our body language, spoken language (including thoughts), and focus/attention affects what we notice and fixate on:

I’ve been thinking about this these past few weeks, yet I still caught myself getting so upset at work this past week. I completely forgot about all of the value that my job has for me, and I was incredibly tempted to quit. At one point, I said to a coworker “it is what it is” to which he replied “I prefer ‘it is what you make of it’”.

I sat with that for the better part of the day. I realized that I had been focusing on the imperfections and stressors and negatives because that’s what I’ve trained myself to do in every job I’ve held. Since then, I’ve been repeating “it is what you make of it” to myself as a little mantra.

Discomfort is frequently a representation of success.

When I get sore from a good workout at the gym, I am not bothered by the discomfort. I find pride in it, in the days following, because of what it means — what it represents. When I get sore, I know I pushed myself. I know that my muscles are growing. I know that I did something right and well.

The same could be said for many other forms of discomfort and pain, but I usually don’t acknowledge it.

★ Pain from a loss of a partner or loved one shows that you were emotionally available and that you opened yourself up to an opportunity to feel something wonderful and have wonderful experiences. And every time that you open up after experiencing loss is a demonstration of strength. (This is not to say that people shouldn’t take the time needed to mourn the loss, merely that eventually opening back up is a sign of strength)

To me, emotional strength is optimism in the face of adversity — creating joy for yourself in moments of pain and/or being vulnerable and open to things despite knowing or having experienced the potential pain.

So when you feel pain from a loss, you can also feel proud for having the courage to let the ties bind.

★ Failing or embarrassing ourselves in our attempt to do something shows that we are pushing ourselves to grow and learn. If you never fail, you are only doing what you are already capable of. Growth and learning happens when you try to do something that you can’t yet do, and you keep trying until you make progress.

★ Honesty can be uncomfortable: admitting that you’ve made a mistake, being genuine about things that make you self-conscious, and (being honest with yourself) taking a hard look at yourself and questioning if you are actually as good as you think.

In being honest, you are vulnerable and risk being hurt by the repercussions. That discomfort is also a sign that you’re honest when it matters most, though.

Being honest when it’s easy is never the concern. People want you to be honest about the things that are not easy to fess up about. It’s the hard moments that define whether you are truly an honest person, not the other 99% of the time.

I am resting on my laurels.

I didn’t realize it until that pessimistic moment with my job, because I don’t consider myself to be a pessimistic person. But I do have ways in which I am resting on my laurels, and we probably all do, or at least most of us.

There are certain qualities and character traits that I take pride in. I know I do better with some things than those around me, but in that margin, I’ve grown lazy.

I’m not talking about knowledge or career skills, here, which is where I hear this phrase used most often. I’m referring to communication skills, optimism, empathy, lack of defensiveness, listening skills, focus, respect, honesty, coach-ability, etc.

I think I’m good at some of these, and I am to some degree, but, as with anything, I should be working on becoming better.

Here is another video of Sabastian where he talks about being honest with ourselves:

The last thing I’ll say on this one: the ways in which we are not how we think of ourselves are basically blind spots, so it will likely take a third-party to point them out.

There are a number of other ideas that I’ve collected to do better in life, but I’ll start with just these three for now. I have to take Milo (my cat) to the vet soon.

I encourage whoever is reading to take the time to actually reflect on how these ideas could apply to different areas and interactions in your life and then find ways to practice using those implications. Growth doesn’t just happen with exposure to the right ideas — it’s the act of very intentionally analyzing how those ideas are/are not being practiced in our own life and then setting aside the time to practice implementing them.

Keep it sunny,



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    • December 19, 2023 at 5:22 am - Reply

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