I imagine everyone gets discouraged. Seems so normal. But ongoing discouragement is dangerous, needless and pointless.
When you are discouraged, do two things. Expand your view and act now.
Expand your view is evocative of a telescopic focus. A telescope can focus in very closely or pull out for the entire perspective. Toward the whole horizon, your entire horizon. The entire existence which surrounds you, not just a speck of your life.
There are worse mantras than Don’t Major in the Minors. When you expand your view, you are less likely to use your energies on things in life that are not important.
When I wrote about time management, your priorities and what is important in your life were maybe THE building blocks of time management. Urgent should not be in the front seat. Important is. Allocate your time against what you want. Put important ahead of urgent.
When I wrote about Newtons Laws of Motion, I compared his second Law of Motion with the force you put against external demands. Same thing. I suppose I am comparing the fading of discouragement to properly marrying what you do with what you want.
I suggest you pull back the lens a bit or if necessary, a lot.
Consider the millions who’ve preceded you. People who lived 2,000, 1,000, or 400 years ago. People who did not know anyone who could read or write. Maybe consider folks with no indoor plumbing. Think about that for a second. No toilet. No hot shower. No sink to brush your teeth. No running water. Nice to live close to a stream.
How about access to food? You live where there is a store everywhere, markets selling meat or vegetables or fruit or beverages. Most of mankind would never have dreamed of such riches. Most of mankind has had a very limited food supply in term of volume or variety. Think about the same meal every day.
Sure, you cannot afford everything, but it IS there. All you have to do is earn it and to do that you typically need a job.
And jobs here are everywhere, for any skill set and for whatever shifts you want. Cannot work on Wednesdays? There is a job for that. Most people over time have not had any input on what they did for a living.
People were born into indenture to man or field
What a world we live in. Our lives don’t know the plague. Malaria does not exist in North America other than test tubes at the CDC in Atlanta. Know anyone with polio? I do not.
Our poor have an obesity epidemic. Tell THAT to someone 1,500 years ago. To carry weight for most of mankind was the most obvious symbol of wealth. To be poor and fat was an oxymoron. Jumbo Shrimp.
Still discouraged? Maybe widen that lens more. Expand your view.
Consider other discouraged people? Caused by failure, or more likely failure to accomplish?
Peter Roget had OCD. Not the most charismatic fellow. He made lists. And more lists. His love of creating lists led to his thesaurus. He was 72 when he did that.
Or Joseph, of the many-colored coat. Joseph was thrown down a well by his brothers in jealousy of their dad’s love for him. Wanted him dead. Then the brothers saw an approaching caravan and decided to bring little Joey up and sell him as a slave. Might as well make some money off the kid.
I bet Joseph was just a bit discouraged.
I hope you know the ending.
Spoiler alert. Joseph does fine and exhibits incredible mercy toward his brothers.
Just because something has not happened does not mean it won’t. Just because you have never died, it does not mean you are immortal. Discouragement is dangerous, and needless and pointless.
It is easy to forget how small and insigficant you and I are when our immediate experiences are all so relatable. EVERYTHING that happens to us affects us. Yet our experiences are not even measurable in a wider perspective.
Consider the amount of time the Earth has existed. If we were to view today ss the end of a 24-hour clock, then Man would appear on Earth at about 2 seconds before midnight. Not YOU would appear, but that man would walk the earth. And all the folks who have lived, whose bones are now dust, those people at one time had eye sockets that lit up as yours do. They heard the sounds of birds and appreciated the beauty of a sky full of puffy white clouds.
And virtually every single one of them would have seen your life as one of immense luxury and ease. You would have seemed alien to them in your good fortune. Someone viewing you from the past would gasp at your luxury.
Yet while I’d think that would clear the sense of discouragement, what really emerges for me is the impulse to take advantage of this one shot I have at life. You and I are only on this rock one time. We have one chance to get this right. Getting this right does not leave much room for remaining discouraged.
Get backup if that is more appropriate.
Act Now. Many of you have more leaves on the ground than in the tree. C’est moi. Not ”young”.
That is not a reason to get discouraged. That is a reason to act now.
I started piano lessons about a month ago. I’m 60. My piano teacher is not referring to me as a prodigy and in truth I don’t think I am likely to be too good. But I practice and by practicing I know I will get better. Great? No. But better. And as I get better I will like to play more. Which means I will get better. Because I play more.
Basic habit-forming technique.
Back to that 24-hour day representing the history of Earth.
Think about our insignificance to this Earth in the context of those 2 seconds. Not only am I insignificant but mankind is insignificant. The Earth’s crust at times has been a mix of noxious gasses. With huge amounts of CO2 by the way. You did not have to measure it in parts per million like we do today. It was not a trace amount. (Editor’s note: CO2 is necessary for plants to photosynthesize, and as you might remember photosynthesis is sort of important to a green plant and to our atmosphere. Anthropomorphic global warming is a hoax.).
During the Ice Age Earth was a snowball orbiting the sun. Everything was frozen.
Conversely our North Pole was, for a time, temperate, with palm trees. Methane oozed from the oceans.
Those eras are measured in time by eons. You know what an eon is? An eon is a million years. When you realize time can be measured in eons you see your 82-year life span and the 30-day lifespan of a fruit fly are not so different. Context is everything. Maybe our life is as brief as a fruit fly’s.
Yet time seems easy to embrace when compared to the enormity of space.
Since the Hubble Telescope got far enough away for us to see red shifts, we know the age of the universe and its growth story. What is big? The universe is much bigger than that.
There are so many stars in the universe that their number would dwarf the number of trees on earth. Not worthy of comparison. Better to compare the grains of sand on earth, though still the stars win by geometric factors.
And they are so very far away. We measure their distance from us in light years. By the distance a beam of light travels in a year.
Think about how quickly your overhead light travels across the room when you flick it on. C’mon, you cannot even see it because it is so fast. That speed by the length of a year. And that is the measurement we use for distance. By light years! How big this universe is!
You are not an accident. With all the majesty that creation offers: the sound of a young child singing, the way your eyeball works to describe everything, the way that everything in nature meshes. There is a reason for everything.
The way all creation comes together and your part in it mandates you act now. You just CANNOT be an accident. You have free will. You think, therefore you are. You have a purpose. Or a bunch of them. And since you were put here with a purpose, there is no reason to be discouraged. You have a purpose.
Expand your view. Zoom that lens out far enough to see that what is discouraging you is dangerous and needless and pointless. And Act Now. Do not let discouragement cloud your existence.