The balance between striving and accepting
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Ahh, finding balance. It’s not easy! We live in a society that constantly tries to persuade us to do more, have more and be more... but what I believe we often need is less.
The more we crowd our lives with, the less room we leave for things that really matter to us. The more we strive, the less we accept what we currently have. The more we want, the less satisfied we feel with our lives.
For a long time I was focused on living up to external expectations. The idea that if I achieve X, I’ll be successful. But the problem I’ve found is that the goal posts are always moving. When we achieve X, we just want to achieve Y, and then Z, and then we start from A again... When will we be content?
Of course, setting goals for ourselves can be positive and motivational. But achieving more and more isn't everything, and, in my experience, doesn't magically bring us happiness.
I believe a balance between striving and accepting is healthy. This way we work towards things that are meaningful to us, but avoid falling into the trap of constantly increasing the pressure we put on ourselves. We appreciate the life we already have.
Here are three things I find helpful.
I try to reframe expectations of myself as opportunities to do things I ‘get’ to do, rather than things I ‘have’ to do. Life is wide open opportunity to enjoy and make the most of, and shifting our mindset can be a powerful reminder of this.
I do my best to appreciate how far I have come, instead of just how far I have to go. This isn’t an easy balance and I don’t always get it right. Who does? But coming back to the intention of striving less and replacing expectation with appreciation helps me whenever I feel overwhelmed.
Gratitude is a wonderful way to transform how you feel from day to day. By making a daily gratitude list, writing in a journal or simply thinking about things you feel grateful for, you can turn this into a habit.
When I practice gratitude regularly, I see more beauty and positivity around me. I feel more connected to others and enjoy the little things in life. I’m happier and healthier, and it impacts how I feel throughout the day.
Last but not least, recognise what you can and can’t control. So often we try to change things that are outside our circle of control, and it’s not helpful… Usually we just stress ourselves out and feel worse!
Consider what causes you stress from day to day. Are these things inside or outside of your control? If you can’t change them, accept them and let them go. Direct your energy towards what you can you can act on.
I believe finding a balance between striving and accepting is key to living a happy life. When we realise just what an incredible world we are part of and all the wonderful people we have in our lives, the weight of expectation just seems to lift. There’s so much good around us, and I believe appreciating this is a sure way to feel calmer, happier and more relaxed everyday.