by Ksenia H
When was the first time you wished for anything? Funny that, isn’t it? That we have been wishing for one thing or another almost all of our lives.
A toy from the Argos catalogue at Christmas. A good part in the school play. Cake for breakfast. Being allowed to go to the cinema on Saturday. Finally getting asked out by someone you’ve fancied for ages.
We want things for ourselves, and other people want things for us. Decent grades. Completed homework. A part time job. A university place. A good career.
Sometimes, somewhere along the way, we become mixed up in all of these wishes. We find ourselves tangled in a web of expectations-of-expectations. Hard as though we may try to figure out, no longer do we know what we truly want, let alone what others might want, and which of the two we would opt for given the choice.
That place of confusion is one in which I have treaded much water in 2016. Honestly, treaded puts it lightly: realistically, it has often been a deeply desperate struggle to stay afloat, to swim – the question is, where to?
There is a point where our wishes really unravel, where they recede into something intangible and illusive. ‘I wish I knew what to do.’ ‘I wish I was more successful.’ ‘I wish I didn’t worry all the time.’ ‘I wish there wasn’t something wrong with me.’
Our wishes turn on us, or more like, we turn our wishes on ourselves – we let them paralyse us, we become unable to make decisions, powerless over taking action and numb to feeling joy – all because we simply do not know: is this what I want? Is this what I should do? Is this right? Will it make me happy?
What I know now is that not knowing is what they call life. There is never one answer; life is too complicated. Life can neither be answered by a single wish, nor with infinite wishes. The former would miss out far too much; the latter would grant us more than we could ever hope to understand.
So what do we do now, now that we know there is no answer? First, I believe we must let ourselves simply be. Be the person that we are right now, accept them. For much of the fear, sadness and hate that is in this world comes from being unable to accept what we are now, and in so doing, we begin to demand of others that they change for us. Only if we can accept ourselves, can we accept others, and let them be with us as who they are too.
Then, I think, we must redefine the question.
‘What should I do?’ becomes ‘What should I do today?’
‘How can I be happy?’ becomes ‘How can I be happier now?’
‘Why can’t I be more successful?’ becomes ‘What are my biggest successes?’
In trying to unlock the paralysis holding me rigid this year, I decided I must start somewhere. And so I have founded Not Such a Bad Day, a charitable project asking people to donate £2 to charity and seize one opportunity they are fortunate to have – whether it’s calling their mum or booking a flight to a new place – in the hope that they will rediscover positivity and spread it to others. Supporting others to have better lives is a big wish of mine, but sometimes it’s much easier to say than to do, because when we don’t think that we’re OK ourselves, helping others becomes a distant prospect – mentally, physically and emotionally.
Not Such a Bad Day hopes to get round that by giving anyone an accessible stepping stone; the permission to start with just one thing, in order to help themselves and help others. Often, that one thing can help reveal further sources of strength – support available from others and more opportunities to go after.
As part of Not Such a Bad Day, I am working through 100 days of pledging £2 – the cost of a cup of coffee – daily to War Child, a charity I have chosen due to the growing humanitarian challenges facing vulnerable children in 2016. I, like everyone else, am human, so there are days when I feel tired and a lot less inspired to see the opportunities that might make the day Not Such a Bad Day. However, this project is not about forcing anyone to be happy on demand – it’s about dedicating just a moment to considering the comforts you do have (take that cup of tea, or mug of hot chocolate for example), at the same time as thinking a little more about who might need your help to have the same fortune.
I’m sort of done with wishing. Instead, I’m focusing on letting myself be, and letting people around me be themselves. Listening first, then thinking about what I bring to the table – and always seeking that one good thing I can do, rather than the hundreds that I can’t, or haven’t.
Ksenia H | @thelifedegree
Ksenia writes at www.thelifedegree.com and is on a quest to get more people having more good days through her Not Such a Bad Day campaign. Most of her time is spent asking questions and figuring out how to do more good.