Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lesson of the Day: Keep Calm and Carry On

After two nights of less-than-great sleep, I found myself a little antsy yesterday. It doesn't help that on Monday I'll be heading back to the States for the first time in over three months. I know that in the grand scheme of things three months is tiny, but the past three months have proven to provide exponential personal growth in my life. I've learned more in these past three months than I have in my past 27 years of existence (and I'll continue to learn more and more!). As I drank my morning coffee, I could feel my emotions getting the best of me. So I stopped, reflected, and realized that I was reacting to exactly what I had learned in my time abroad...managing emotions. Here are my thoughts on it...

Life is a series of experiences. We've been taught by society, media, parents, etc. to categorize these events as either "good" or "bad" depending on the emotions that take shape as we experience them. However, what if we looked at each situation differently? What if we viewed each experience as it came to us and eliminated the overwhelming emotional component automatically attached to each? Then, we could automate a "positive" reaction (sans emotion) to every situation instead until it becomes a habit.

I learned early on that when it rains it pours, both negatively and positively. We've all had those mornings in which we miss our alarm, the shower is cold, it's pouring outside, we're late to our important meeting, and on top of it, we forgot to lock the door on the way out of the apartment. Instead of getting caught up in emotion and letting the momentum of the "terrible" day ensue, I've learned to stop the negative momentum before it really starts to take motion through emotional self control. If I miss my alarm, instead of running around with my head chopped off, I calmly contact whoever needs to be notified that I will be late. Then, I think to myself, "What if the reason that I woke up late is because I need to talk to a stranger today that I wouldn't have seen had I been on my normal train?" Things in life happen for a reason. I don't fight this reality anymore. I embrace every experience as part of my journey and have positivity on autopilot, which leads to momentum in a more desired direction.

Furthermore, through our experiences we make decisions. If we harbor emotions from previous experiences, then we end up making poor decisions and let these emotions prevent us from doing really great things. Then, our next step is off-kilter due to the emotional roller coaster driving the decisions being made. Every day we're given a choice. We either go one route or another. If we've already incorporated emotional self control into how we react to experiences, then this technique will carry over into our sound decision-making, thus putting us on track to follow the best path set out for each of us.

In Fall 2012, my experiences and sound decision-making led my path thousands of miles away to Australia and New Zealand. Sometimes I look back and wonder what would have happened had I not made the decision to travel for the past three months. I wouldn't have met all the amazing and inspiring people that I did, I wouldn't have found out what it's like to be truly happy and how to maintain that happiness even when I go home, and I wouldn't have had all the unforgettable experiences I did. Yes, when I go home, there may be roadblocks in my path, sleepless nights, and days of emotional overload. However, I am now equipped with the tools necessary to overcome each of these obstacles. I'm lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel for three months, and I completely understand that not everyone can take off this amount of time from their life to travel and self-reflect, but that doesn't mean that you cannot grow as a person. You can be anywhere in the world and have the same growth experiences I've had. It's all about one's state of mind, not geographical location. It just so happens that most of my growth occurs when I'm traveling.

I guess what I'm trying to say is work on controlling your emotions. Life's best decisions are made once you gain the maturity and intelligence to take emotions out of it. I'm not saying to become a robot and guard all emotion from leaking out; I'm saying acknowledge and dissect why you feel a certain way before acting on every emotion. Next time you find yourself in a stereotypical "bad" situation (e.g. bed bugs), see how you can change your frame of mind and take something positive from the experience. Life gets a lot sunnier if you do :)

1 comment:

  1. That is very well said. As someone who has been changing their perspective, it does make a difference when you encounter difficulties to look at them as learning opportunities or even as another door opening. I'm glad your antsy feelings lead to such a great post. I'm also ridiculously excited that you are coming home :)