Make the most of what you've got

29 March 2017
Hardly any of us have the life we dreamed of back when we had time to dream of perfect lives. When you grow up a bit you realise almost nothing is perfect and many things in daily life aren't even close to it.  When I look back on my life, I feel grateful that I've done what I've done, married who I did, gave birth to two fine sons, worked in jobs I found extremely satisfying most of the time, paid off debt before I got weighed down by it and worked out that using common sense to decide the way forward was, hands down, the best option. I'm also very grateful that I made the most of what I had because I think that's one of the main keys to living well and being content.

I fear that nowadays there is a yearning for what's out of reach. Instead of making the most of what we already have, we want what others have and sometimes go into debt to get it. We've forgotten that we can be happy in our own homes and that a life lived in a warm and secure home can set us up for success because we feel cared for and we're not stressed when we go to work and school. That warmth and security isn't a product of materialism and what's in the latest catalogue, it comes from the heart and from people who do the hard yards to encourage and build those feelings and values into families and homes as they mature.

A home is more than a dwelling. A home starts to develop when someone takes the time and puts in the effort to make the house clean, tidy, organised and calm. Over the months that follow, warmth and comfort start to linger as food is cooked at home, aromas greet the family as they come home from school and work, there is cold water in the fridge, hot water for tea or coffee, simple flowers on the table, a candle burning in a jar, and homemade biscuits or cake to be shared. Slowly, a feeling of peace creeps in quietly and fills every part of the home. And even if you're working outside the home, the aroma of a cooked meal can be created each day by being organised enough to prepare a meal in the slow cooker or by serving leftovers that just need heating up. None of this is bought on a credit card - it's all simple stuff made possible by spending time and effort.

Focusing inwards - into your own life, family and home, instead of outwards towards recreational shopping, paid entertainment and increasing debt, can mark a difference in your lifestyle that might change your life. And all these little changes might not look like grand gestures of common sense but they have the potential to provide the comfort and security you've been craving but haven't quite known how to bring into your life.  The trick is to do the things that make you and your family feel cared for. And that can be anything from having clean sheets and a made bed to being brought a cup of tea and being told to put your feet up while the washing up is taken care of. It is that simple.

Even though your children probably won't think of it as a gift, expect them to do their fair share. That starts when they're 2 years old and are encouraged to pick up their toys. You can build on that every year to include more complex tasks. If you have those expectations, when your children are teenagers they'll have the life skills they need to look after themselves; that will give them a feeling of confidence and that they're capable and clever. And despite what they think, having expectations of your children is a way of teaching them and showing your love. You can say "love you" every time you speak on the phone or leave for work, but you'll show your love by teaching them how to be the people they want to be. And that involves time and effort.

Once you start thinking this way, it will be clear to you which small steps will help you make a magnificent difference. It will be the ordinary everyday things, it will be building on what you already have, making minor adjustments in how the work is carried out, asking for help from family members, dropping other things that don't mean much and structuring every day to nurture your life instead of take from it. I can't tell you what will work for you because we're all different, but I do know that once you start thinking this way, and then start implementing your ideas, the way forward will become clearer.  Just make the most of what you've got and build on it every day.

♒︎♒︎♒︎  🐝 ♒︎♒︎♒︎