“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Dolly Parton
Words of wisdom. The metaphors “wind” and “sails” represent life and attitudes. Life is out of our control in most cases. We cannot control the weather or other people. We cannot control world hunger, poverty, or any other of the world’s ailments.
The only thing we can control is the attitude or the way we react to outside circumstances. This response can be one of indifference, one of joy, or one of horror. Name an emotion and our reactions can be measured by them.
We can alter our reactions by focusing on what we can control. We can also limit what comes into us from the outside. Show me a person who is addicted to the news and I’ll show you a person who is paranoid, constantly upset, and a whole host of other mental maladies.
The key to adjusting our attitudes and maintaining our sanity is to simply focus on what we can control. If you have a job you dislike, focus on the things you do like. Focus on the work. Focus on the benefits you are getting from the job, the people you get along with, and let the rest go. You cannot change it. You can only affect how you feel about things.
I’m not suggesting becoming a hermit. There are many things we encounter by default. It’s hard to escape the news when it is on our radios, the Internet, and in most of the publications we read. Nowadays you can even see it on the televisions set up in the workplace.
It is also hard to escape a person you dislike at work, a poorly run company, or inefficient processes and procedures. You can try to affect these things, but in most cases, the hill will be too steep to climb. So, what do you do? Well, you can change companies. Or perhaps you could tackle the work at hand and make the best of your situation. You could find entertaining things to do after work. You could pick up a hobby or start a personal project that excites you.
At work, you do the best you can with what you have. You focus on the parts of projects you can affect. You learn to interact with people who you dislike by learning why they are the way they are and adapting to that. You make a proposal to the company leadership to change a process for the better. This is proactively attacking things you can control.
Or you could digress to the victim. No one likes you. No one gives you the respect you deserve. No one gives you an opportunity. No one cares. No one understands. You become like a paper boat on a pond during a windstorm, tossed and turned, flipped, and twisted with the ever-changing, uncontrollable winds and storms of life.
The choice is obvious right? Act on what you can control. Deal with that part of reality that you cannot control by making the best of it. We can’t control snow in April, but we can look at it differently. We can say to ourselves, what a great day for a nice cup of coffee and a good book. We can notice how nice it is to walk into a warm and comfortable office after negotiating the rain, ice, and cold. We can look out the window and realize we are not a soldier who is more than likely living in those ungodly conditions. We are in a warm office, with a computer, and a warm beverage. You see how the scene changes?
So, adjust your sails to accommodate the winds of life. You’ll find the ride much more enjoyable.
Until next time…